Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXLIV: Vanessa Stone

(Vanessa Stone)
Vanessa is a real moonraker, being born and brought up in a small Wiltshire village near Salisbury. She attended La Retraite Convent School and Salisbury College of Art before going on to study at the Uk’s only Carpet and Rug Design degree course in the Midlands. She graduated in 1990 and worked freelance designing textiles and rugs.

A move to Letchworth Garden City in 1992 brought marriage and regular exhibiting of embroideries, banners and papier mache pots across England. She regularly ran workshops and residencies at local schools and museums and completed two post-graduate Artists in Schools (Primary and Secondary) Diplomas at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She produced lots of private commissions during this time and made a large banner for St. Botoph’s Aldgate in London.

A break of five years to bring up two children was followed by a complete change of direction. Vanessa had a eureka moment! She looked at some stencils she had been making in a whole new way - that they were the artefact and not the textiles made from them. They became her object of desire! Cutting into paper was a technique that gave her the balance between pure line, design and meaning. So free and yet so controlled.

“I love working in the black paper. Cutting into it with a sharp scalpel is so delicious. As I cut away the image is revealed more and more. The knife lets it out – lets it exist. I suppose it’s like stripping it all away – cutting through all the distractions to get to the real heart of the matter: pure form and what it feels like to be alive. The pieces are statements of fact. The stark black and white lets the unspoken be spoken through image and text.”

Since then Vanessa has not looked back and fully specialises in cut paper. Her work has developed over the last three years to cover broad themes of love and passion, architecture, paper prayers and creatures. And the techniques have developed too to combine bold colour layered under the cut back paper. She exhibits regularly and often runs workshops in schools and museums and is represented by Byard Art in Cambridge.

Email: or

What made you decide to start blogging?

About a year or so after getting my website up and running I felt I wanted to get people looking at my work to also get a feel of me as a person. I think it adds more depth and makes even more sense of what I make if you get to know me as a person.

What is your best blogging experience?

Reading blogs that expand my world.

And your worst?

Not understanding how to access interesting things on Twitter rather than hearing about what someone has had for breakfast. I really do think that’s a case of life being too short.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

The blog entry that talked about my decision about whether or not o do more erotic based work. I had stood on the fence for a long time and writing about it on my blog made it clearer in my head as to which way to go.

Favourite blogs?

I love reading the good ones on the BBC website as they can be really enriching and educational. I really like Razia Iqbal arts one. Robert Peston’s one did actually get me to understand what on earth had happened to cause the financial crisis of today.

What inspired you to start paper cutting?

I used to make lots of textiles but was always looking for a technique that would eliminate as much of the surface texture as possible. I did some stencilling as part of that exploration and just looked at the stencil and thought BLIKNKIN HECK! !! That’s exciting. The line I could get was just like nothing else.

Do you have a particular favourite amongst previous works of art you have made?

I have made quite a few of buildings and punts and boats around Cambridge now and one of them I thought was the nearest I have got to the perfect balance between the shapes, the cut line and the colours. And it’s very simple just five punts floating on the water.

On your website you mention a love of buildings. Do you have a favourite era and if so why?

Art and crafts is beautiful, especially with its sets of sixes and nines of windows and details. Its details of hinges and carvings are beautiful but at heart though I am a classical girl and prefer symmetry and majesty. My favourite of all however? It has to be Georgian. All that balance and refinement – gorgeous.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Any of the Scandinavian countries.... and Venice!

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I would like to go to Holland again to see that huge amount of sky again. I get near to a landscape like that when I go into Bedfordshire and I just smile and smile when I am there.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I am a big fan of William Wilberforce. I admire him a great deal.

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Picasso for being a dogmatic genius for my art head and my father for struggling on in spite of the ravages of Parkinson’s. Its a terrible disease.

Favourite Bond movie?

It has to be Casino Royale with Daniel Craig. That scene with him walking out of the sea in those Speedos is completely unforgettable.

Favourite Doctor Who?

OOOh easy - Tom Baker. I grew up in the 70’s!!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

f you mean ice cream – a weird thing happened about two years ago and I just didn’t like it any more.... but I love mint chocolate... especially if it’s very plain and snaps in your fingers.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

An older Johnny Cash - though not saying The Beatles or Elvis does seem criminal.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

I love Cambridge and Oxford – but I like adventures and seeing new things... so would have to be Barsby...I will have to Google earth it now...

Favourite national newspaper?

The Times

What would you say your hobbies were?

Riding my bike and madly watching films.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Argh! That’s hard. Books would have to be the Pullman trilogy of His Dark Materials, The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico and poems by e e cummings.

Music? Not counting music that is bound up with memories of my children... then Allegri’s Miserere, Mozart’s Requiem and Whole Lotta Lovin by Led Zep.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Great to see this serious up and running again.

A good one too. I can't say I enjoyed Casino Royale for the same reason though. Oh ok then, maybe a little bit...