Creative Spotlight: Paula Batt
I was born in Belfast in 1975, and now live in Bangor, County Down, where I work from my bright yellow seafront studio. Here I am resident artist with Project 24, better known locally as ‘The Art Pods’ – which are 12 brightly coloured, ex-shipping containers, which have been repurposed as artist’s studios.
I have been hand cutting my original hand drawn illustrations for almost 5 years now and I am entirely self-taught. My tools are minimal; mainly, a pencil, paper & blade. My process is quite organic, working from a rough brief or idea and just going with the flow! I will start off with a big blank sheet of paper and start to freely draw in reverse. I usually like to combine words with pictures, making sure each part of the illustration connects to another, and then when I’m happy, I’ll carefully cut out the illustration using a surgical blade.
Sometimes, I like to add colour and depth by filling in my papercuts or making multiple layers and build them up a bit like a theatre set. Some of my work can take as little as 1 hour, but other work can take 50 hours or more, depending on size and intricacy.
Why do you do what you do?
I have always been creative – it’s just what I’m about! From an early age, I’ve seen art in almost everything that surrounds me. I have always had a fascination with how things are made and always had a knack for teaching myself different processes. I have always learned how to do things in an unconventional way and I am very resourceful. I believe that creativity is something that is innate – something that can’t be taught or forced.
Most of my work is centred around nostalgia; I love how a poem, song or even an old letter can transport you back to a certain place in time and how these things can bring about strong emotions.
Some of my more commercial work features well-known landmarks and scenes and I love how these pieces find themselves on the walls of people who may have long since left their homeland and act as a little reminder. I like how my art can connect people and how it can communicate sentiments that sometimes the spoken word cannot. My art fulfils my need to connect me to the people around me and allows me to play a small part in bridging gaps between people, space & time.
Following my love of poetry, I like to try and write my own – but I’m certainly no Shakespeare! My dream project would be to illustrate a book; either to accompany my own words or someone else’s, but I am very open to any exciting projects that may come my way.
I am inspired by lots of different people and things – from traditional papercutters to 1960’s pottery; from old lino cut prints to being inspired by Henri Matisse after visiting his exhibition in Amsterdam last year. I feel art is everywhere, you just have to look and use your imagination…