by Sara Khan
Last year we saw women from around the world coming together to respond to decades of sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault. From the Women’s March, #MeToo campaign, and Weinstein effect in 2017 to the Time’s Up movement at the Golden Globes and the Baftas. 2018 shows no signs of stopping and will be the year of women.
As we mark a 100 years’ anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the UK, we will be celebrating the works of progressive female artists and makers pushing boundaries within their work to create dialogue.
Poppy grew up in West London and is the daughter of actress Anna Chancellor, “Duckface” in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and poet Jock Scot. She is a London-based illustrator and papercut artist who has worked with brands including Adidas and Cath Kidston. Poppy hand-cuts intricate and contemporary designs from a single sheet of paper. Her work tends to features traditional papercut characters such as animals but her recent pieces have more of a contemporary feminist edge.
We met with Poppy to discuss her passions, work, and feminism.
What led you to become an artist and maker?
My family were always encouraging, especially as a child. My mum even let me draw on the walls. Being self-expressive, messy, and creative was intrinsic to growing up and being heard. I felt at home in the art room at school and always dreamt of having my own studio.
What are the main themes in your work and why are these important to you?
I love the relationship between positive and negative spaces. Working out what to cut and what to keep. This is one of the reasons I like to work with black paper as it helps me to identify shape more easily. I enjoy how text and the figure work together, and I think the words you use can totally change the feeling of an image.
Do you feel the issues you raise in your work are relevant today?
Female strength and body positivity have always interested me. I feel in love with early Greek sculpture at school and focused on classical nudes at the Royal Drawing School. I felt quite detached from these images and wanted to create an updated idea of young women, minus all the formalities, and just relaxing with her friends.
Can you tell us a bit more about your latest work?
I wanted to papercut my take on The Three Graces, a sculpture by Antonio Canova. The theme of sisterhood is always reoccurring for me so I knew which lyrics I wanted to use. Mixing classical compositions with modern imagery combines all the things I love and what I aim for in my work.
What are you hoping to evoke in the viewer through your work?
I aim to be light-hearted, cheeky, and reflect on my own feminine experiences through my work. I'd like the viewer to see it first as an image and secondly as a papercut. It's the reality of the piece being cut from a single piece of paper that adds a sense of amazement.
How much does gender influence your work?
I've always been drawn to images of women. I either admired them and wanted to be them or had seen aspects of myself in them. I enjoy making images which give me confidence and appreciate my own form. I like the idea of women believing in their own beauty and that they can be their own Venus like goddess just as they are.
Do you think now is an important time for women in the arts?
I think we are experiencing a moment of change. Women are speaking up in all areas in society and the creative industries will lend a hand in having those voices heard. Supporting your peers in the arts and beyond is hugely important in creating a foundation for change.