Sep 14, 2011

PROFILE| Richard Sweeney | Something we use everyday

Richard Sweeney, Partial Shell, water color paper 2010

For something we use every day we don't quite often see paper in such a way as Richard Sweeney uses it. Born 1984 in Huddersfield, England. 

He discovered a natural talent for sculpture at Batley School of Art and Design in 2002, which led him to the study of Three Dimensional Design at the Manchester Metropolitan University, where he concentrated on the hands-on manipulation of paper to create design models, which ultimately developed into sculptural pieces in their own right.

As students we use paper every day, yes we learned how to fold paper air planes in elementary school, but Richard Sweeney has taken a part of our daily lives and made it into something much more. The simplicity of the medium is greatly emphasized by the complexity of his work. As art students we can appreciate how clean this white paper is. As you can see from above the use of light and shadow are used to create more depth to his work. He created the Partial Shell through hands on experimentation by just plain old folding paper, and through this manipulation it was observed that through repetition, a curved line could be formed.

Through the repetition of a curved line, folding patterns are drawn by using a template, the resulting forms from which were inherently unpredictable. Thus, the three-dimensional outcome is not predetermined- a new form is discovered with each unique folding pattern- and several variations of form can in fact be produced from a single pattern through the manipulation of the paper when wet-folding.

Richard Sweeney, Gerald
In collaboration with Liam Hobkins, he created his mascot, Gerald, for Lazerian studio. This is a computer generated dog that is printed out onto A1 paper that is folded to form a dog. There is a do-it-yourself on how to make Gerald on the Lazerian website. Lazerian is a creative practice started by Liam Hokins in 2006, the practice consists of  three designers, Hobkins, Sweeney, and Jason Chart Davies. Although the practice creates mostly household furniture works, Sweeney's works are utilizing properties of a mundane every day material to discover unique sculptural forms.
Richard Sweeney, Tetrahedron 2006
In his Modular Forms in Paper collection he states that "when faced with a flat sheet of material, there is no obvious indication of how it can be manipulated in to a three dimensional object." I think that statement is very true, it is easy to create something on a sheet of paper, but difficult to make something out of a piece of paper. The three denominational model's are made using repetitive geometry, curved lines and modularity. These sculptures were not pre-determined they are all purely experimental. His work is not limited to sculpture he also does photography, craft, and graphic design. His most recent exhibition is the Block Party: cutting beyond the garment is touring exhibition from the Crafts Council that previews at designjunction, Victoria House, Southampton Row, from the 22nd to the 25th of September, as part of this year’s London Design Festival. Which features his Angel figure. This work caught my eye because I did not view paper in this way, hopefully you can now view paper in a new way as well. 

-Jessica A Guerra

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