Friday, October 14, 2011

Beginning ~ with filigree-handled scissors

Imagine starting your life's work at seventy-two.  At just that age, Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (May 14, 1700-April 15, 1788), a fan of George Frideric Handel, a sometime dinner partner of satirist Jonathan Swife, a wearer of green-hooped satin gowns, and a fiercely devoted subject of blond King George III, invented a precursor of what we know as collage.  One afternoon in 1772 she noticed how a piece of collored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium.  After making that vital imaginative connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-Acto blade (she'd have called it a scalpel) or a pair of filigree-handled scissore — the kind that must have had a nose so sharp and delicate that you could almost imagine it picking up a scent.  With the instrument alive in her still rather smooth-skinned hand, she began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geraniun petal shape from the scarlet paper.

Then she snipped out another.

And another, and another, with the trance-like efficiency of repetition — commencing the most remarkable work of her life.
The Paper Garden: An Artist (Begins Her Life's Work) at 72 ~ by Molly Peacock, 2011, biography (England)

Adding to what I've already told you in a library loot post, I admit I've already looked at all the colorful flower mosaics — or "mosaicks," as the artist would say — but I have not yet read the book.  I can't imagine doing such intricate work with scissors, though I'm almost the age she was when she invented the art of collage.  I'm very impressed by her work.

Katy at A Few More Pages brings us this Friday meme about Book Beginnings.  Browse there to find interesting books for your own reading list.  Click here for today's list, and don't forget that Katy and all the contributors (including me) love comments.


Helen's Book Blog said...

Those images are amazing!

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

This sounds so fascinating! Who knew how "collage" came about...and what an intriguing book this must be.

Thanks for sharing.


E said...

Beautiful images, and I suspect there will be some interesting history in there.

Katy said...

Wow, those are such beautiful creations! I can't imagine the painstaking concentration that would require!

Thanks for putting that book on my radar, and thanks for participating in Book Beginnings!