Lucy Jean Green specialises in kinetic paper sculpture. Building on found and vintage objects, Green adds to the objects’ story. Each piece performs a narrative rooted in fact or folklore, acting as a small stage for the story to be presented to an audience.
Tell us about your creative process
I usually start by looking for inspiration from the natural world of birds or from mythology and folklore stories surrounding them, or sometimes a bit of both. Once I find my source of inspiration, I begin to look at the structure of the creature and explore how to create the form using paper. The next step is if I want the piece to move, how do I want it to move? And how do I create said movement. This is usually the part that takes the longest to get right but I enjoy experimenting with different mechanisms. Once all of this is done, it’s time to find the right frame, make the box to fit it and start cutting and adding all the layers of card. Then once the bird is mounted and working correctly, the piece is finished!
Describe where you do most of your creative work
I do most of my work in my studio, a room full of bird tests and organised chaos! But my brain never switches off, I’m always creating new concepts for pieces in my mind no matter what I’m doing, so you could say I do most of my creative work in my mind, then my hands follow on.
What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on
I think the most exciting project I’ve worked on was the work I did for my degree show in 2015. This was when things started to really fall into place in terms of my practice. I had created a large framed owl piece, with a small motor built in that flapped the wings of the owl. When the show opened I didn’t expect such an amazing response to my work, I left the show feeling so positive and excited about the future of my work, and I think because of the positive attitude it gave me, I’ve been able to accomplish so much more.
What made you decide to become an artist
I don’t think I ever really decided to become an artist, I’ve just always done what I enjoyed and it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve stopped to look around and realised, hey… I’m an artist.
What are you currently working on
Currently I am working on commissioned work for people who I met at the Parallax Art Fair in July, and also some new work for the next Parallax Art Fair in October. I’m also working part time as a prop maker for a few CBBC and CBeebies programs.
What are the key themes in your work
Fact and folklore that surround birds.
What would you like people to notice in your work
I’d like them to notice the stories behind each piece.
What attracts you to the mediums you work in
I love working with paper because of how versatile it is, there are so many different ways to band, shape and fold it to make different structures. It’s also surprisingly strong but always looks delicate.
What equipment could you not do without
My trusty scissors and a pencil.
Who or what inspires you
There are many artists and practitioners that inspire me greatly, but I’d have to say my main inspiration is the natural world of birds, they fascinate me to no end and captivate me with their quirky personalities and amazing beauty.
Does gender affect your work
I wouldn’t say gender affects my work, however, people are still surprised and impressed when I tell them I did all the mechanics in my work myself.
What’s your favourite gallery, or place to see or experience art
I think the V&A in London is my favourite place to experience art, because you can see art from throughout history, how it changed and varied through time and from different cultures, it’s so inspiring to see how creativity has always been so alive all over the world.
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be and why
There’s so much incredible art out there, how can I narrow it down to one!
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be, and why
I’d love to collaborate with Leonardo Da Vinci and work with him on his flying machine, I’ve been told the way I create the flying movement in my work reminds people of his flying machine, so I’d love to be able to work with him on one of his famous works. I’d also love to pick his brain as I bet there was a lot going on up there!
Is there an artist, movement or collective you’d like to see re-evaluated, or a contemporary artist who is underrated
There are many automata artists such as Keith Newstead, Paul Spooner and Tom Haney who I feel are so skilled in what they do and create such captivating and interesting work, as do many other automata artists. Because I am in the field of automata myself, I have found all of these artists that are well known, but not as well-known as they should be. Automata as an art form can look simple but underneath it if so complicated and takes a lot of understanding of how things work and move and I definitely think it is under-rated. Not just because I am in the field, but if I wasn’t, I don’t think I would know the wonders of the automata world!
What’s your favourite colour
My favourite colour is green
A video of Lucy Jean Green’s exhibition ‘Aves’ from earlier this year.