Interview: Pamela See
Luca Curci talks with Pamela See during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2022, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Pamela See is an Australian artist who practices a contemporary form of papercutting. Her style resembles Foshan Papercutting which is endemic to Guangdong Province, the home of her maternal grandparents. She graduated from the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, for the first time in 1999, with a Bachelor of Visual Arts. She completed a Doctor of Philosophy at the same institution in 2020. The research focused on post-digital applications for papercutting. This involved translating her motifs into an array of media including digital animation and video games, cast and laser-cut bronze, and monumental sculpture. Through the support of the Brisbane City Council and the Australia China Council, she studied papercutting in several regional centres across China during her twenties. At the age of twenty-nine she also received support from the Australia Council for the Arts, which enabled her to undertake training at the University of Massachusetts in drawing. Since 1997, she has exhibited in Australia, North America, Europe and China. This includes contributing to exhibitions at Arteriet in Norway, The Museo Gustavo de Maeztu in Spain and The Qing Tong Museum in China. Her artwork is also held in a variety of collections such as the Huaxia Papercutting Museum, National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial.
Luca Curci – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
Pamela See – When I was in my early 20s, I moved to a regional area in Central Queensland. Although I was trained as a painter at art college, I started to do papercuts because I was bereft of a studio. I used to do papercrafts during gatherings with my extended family. Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was a global paper as an independent media movement raging from the late 1990s to early 2010s. Subsequently, I began getting a lot of requests to exhibit. I then went to study the technique in China. My family is manufacturers, and as such it was natural for me to transition from paper into industrial media such as laser-cut acrylic, bronze and stainless steel. I presently produce artwork in a broad range of materials and scales from intricate artist books to monumental sculptures.
LC – How is your creative process?
PS – All of my artwork begins with the material of paper, which I cut using either scissors or a scalpel. Sometimes, I create papercut installations, the longest of which was 9m. Other times, I digitally trace the papercuts into a scalable vector graphic, which can then be translated into a myriad of materials ranging from ceramics to animation.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
PS – I am fortunate in that papercutting is recognised by ethnographers as a repository of maternal tradition. In China, between the fourth and twentieth century, many women recorded their stories using this medium in lieu of being able to write Chinese characters. Subsequently, most of my compositions are allegories which reflect my daily life.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
PS – I am not normally drawn to open calls nor large group exhibitions. However, I was very excited when I saw The Body Language. Over the past few months, I have been struggling to deal with the changes in my body. Being in my forties, I am coming to terms with a loss of fertility.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
PS – I have to say that the team at ITSLIQUID are incredibly accommodating, supportive and responsive. Subsequently, this exhibition has been a wonderful experience.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
PS – Yes, I believe it provides an opportunity for our artwork to be introduced to a different audience.
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