One of my earliest memories is the smell of paint and glue, that school smell, reminding me of the place where we were first encouraged to use our imagination to produce art works. I remember coming home from school proudly clutching pasta and pulses collages which used to grace the kitchen wall until the bits fell off.
The art of collage-making is far from dead. It can be used to make collages of photos on students’ walls, and compiled into self-designed calendars. You can use a host of things to make a collage.
The word collage comes from the French word ‘coller’, which means ‘to glue’ something, usually on strong paper or canvas, using a selection of objects of your choice.
You can use handmade paper, torn into strips and sections of silver birch bark to create a background. Dried flower petals or dried autumn leaves can look stunning.
It’s a good idea to keep old postcards, wrapping paper, photos from magazines and newspapers. Crepe paper, die-cut shapes, paper craft items, shells, buttons, mosaic stone tiles, wooden craft sticks and coloured paper can all be used to make stunning collages.
Yellow Moon has a great selection of items to use, including glue and paper, feathers and self-adhesive acrylic jewels, which come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. But if you look on the crafts section on eBay, you can find all sorts of things for sale which could be used for the purpose. They can be bought for pennies online.
Last year’s collage exhibition at the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA), which traced the use of collage in British art, had objects ranging from rose petals to elephant dung.
History of collage
Collages have been around for centuries. The ancient Chinese used collage techniques when paper was first invented around 200 BC. The Japanese made it popular in the 10th century, incorporating it with their calligraphy skills in their work. Victorians popularised decoupage collage. Collage art was used to illustrate books in the 19th century. The famous artists Picasso and Matisse created some wonderful collages during their career.
Picasso and Matisse
Picasso was the person to actually coin the term collage at the beginning of the 20th century. His collage work includes a chair cane design on his 1912 piece entitled Still Life with Chair Caning. Matisse created his stunning Blue Nude II in 1952, using a cut-out collage technique.
Create your own masterpiece with some of the materials suggested. It’s a great way to keep the kids occupied on a rainy day. Encourage them to tear or cut shapes to then stick on paper, creating their own artwork. Let their imagination run wild to express themselves in a very creative way.
If you want to have a go yourself, you could organise a craft session with your fellow arty friends. You never know what hidden talents might surface.
Vivienne Egan writes for craft company Yellow Moon.