THIS CONTENT IS ALSO AVAILABLE IN INSPIRE ISSUE 42 FROM 2012
Working from her studio in the English countryside just outside Manchester, UK artist Helen Musselwhite is never short of inspiration. Every morning as she walks her dog, nature provides all she needs. “I’m a country person,” she says. “It’s in my blood. It almost feels like a sixth sense.” Musselwhite’s great-grandfather was a thatcher, her grandfather a shepherd and her father a farmer.
“I find the natural world very moving,” says Musselwhite. “If I didn’t walk every day I’d miss the slow creep of the bramble rose, or the way a new leaf unfurls.” This attention to detail is evident in the ethereal pieces she creates by carefully cutting layers of paper into delicate, whimsical designs influenced by the scenes and creatures she encounters. “There’s so much horrible stuff in the world, so in my work I try to recreate the beauty of the countryside,” she says. “My world is lovely.”
Musselwhite’s work with paper has evolved as she experimented with different media throughout her career. Soon after leav-ing art college, she made wooden furniture. She moved on to making jewellery out of sheets of silver. “It can be expensive to make a mistake in silver, so I made patterns out of paper first,” she says. “As I practised cutting my pieces I realised how nice it was to work with paper. A blank sheet is such a humble thing, but it holds so much promise. I can do so much with it.”
Since focusing on paper six years ago, Musselwhite has acquired an agent and become a favourite of design bloggers. Her work sells in galleries across the UK, and commercial clients include Stella McCartney, Random House publishing, Audi, Nokia and Smythson of Bond Street. “I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I love,” says Musselwhite, who credits the Internet for some of her success. Of course none of that would be possible without her talent as an artist.
TEXT RACHELLA SINCLAIR