Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Paper Garden

I am reading a book titled "  The Paper Garden"  by Molly Peacock.  I want to own this book !  It is not only interesting but just a beautiful book !   It is about a woman named Mary Granville Pendarves Delany who lived in Great Britain in the 1700's and at the age of 72 began her "career" as , what we would today call,  a paper collage artist .  She noticed one afternoon that a piece of colored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium.  She began cutting petal shapes out of the paper and her fascination began.  She called these creations  "flower mosaicks"  and completed nearly a thousand cut-paper botanicals in the next 10 years.  Remember, she began at age 72.  That is amazing, not to mention inspiring !
She always painted the paper on which they were mounted with black watercolor and..."once dry, she'd paste onto these backgrounds hundreds ....of the tiniest dots, squiggles, scoops, moons, slivers, islands and loops of brightly colored paper, slowly building up the verisimilitude of flora"  ( p.4).   Mrs Delany's niece donated hers works to the British Museum in 1895 where they are bound in leather-edged volumes and seen by appointment!
"The Paper Garden"  credits Mary Delany with the rudimentary creation of collage at a time when paper of all kinds, including wallpaper, was handmade.  She actually did use some wallpaper but mostly she would paint rag paper with watercolors and cut the pieces for her work from them.  Here is an example of one of her most famous and most popular images - Damask Rose.  Mrs Delany was 80 years old when she completed this !

The author counts 71 pieces in the main flower .

Mrs. Delany is said to have poured herself into this endeavor as  
" employment and amusement"  to fill the void after the deaths of
her beloved sister, Anne, and her husband, Patrick, whom she called her best friend.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the book but am already tremendously inspired,  since I too have started on an artist's journey rather later in life than most.

  For more on the life and works of Mary Delany you can follow this link :