On Friday 27 May, Rheged’s Gallery opens its very first Paper Art Exhibition – ‘Matisse and Contemporary Paper Artists Exhibition’ – the largest exhibition of its kind to come to Cumbria. Curated entirely in-house by the Rheged Gallery Team, it includes 35 pieces by Matisse as well as some of the best Paper artists in the country.


‘Drawing with Scissors’, a Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition, focuses on Matisse’s late works from 1950-1954. The exhibit takes pride of place in a dedicated room within the exhibition. It features 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs produced by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in the last four years of his life. Confined to a wheelchair or his bed, he took to ‘drawing with scissors’ – cutting shapes out of paper, which had been vibrantly pre-painted with gouache by assistants and were then assembled into abstract or figurative shapes under his direction – arguably the most famous of which is Nu bleu II (Blue Nude II), 1952.

Alongside this, visitors can expect 200 artworks by 42 leading British paper artists – many of whom are members of the highly respected Paper Artist Collective and exhibit all over the world. Notable names include Rob Ryan, Lisa Lloyd, Helen Musselwhite, Pippa Dyrlaga and Paperboyo, while homegrown Cumbrian talent is represented by Emma Boyes, Tracey Escolme, Elizabeth Sharrock and Mark Gibbs plus a showstopper centrepiece by Kendal-based paper artist, Amy Williams.  Many of the works are for sale and showcase the full spectrum of paper art mediums including animation, origami, fashion, collage, 3d sculpture and paper cuts.


Rheged’s Head of Programming, Claire Logan-Stephens commented:

“This is an exceptionally exciting exhibition for us. To be able to showcase leading Cumbrian and UK-wide paper artists alongside the genius of Henri Matisse is a true honour. We’re absolutely delighted to have Amy Williams back at Rheged with a truly spectacular centrepiece to the exhibition which will no doubt stimulate conversation, but more importantly, inspire visitors of all ages to have a go at paper art themselves.”


Back In February 2022, Rheged put a nationwide call out to professional paper artists asking for proposals for an installation which would be a centrepiece with a Cumbria connection, a talking point and a contemporary companion to the exhibition. It also needed to inspire a make and create area, where all visitors could learn a paper craft skill.


Worthy winner, Amy Williams, a visual artist living in Kendal, won the commission with her very original idea of exploring Cumbria’s identity and heritage through a series of paper wigs and headwear.  Each one reflects an industry for which the region is well-known. Amy has made nine different pieces exploring industries such as paper making, wool, shoe making, ship-building, pencils, mining, and tourism.

And finally, the exhibition includes a ‘make and create’ area sponsored by James Cropper speciality paper of Burneside where the whole family can try their hand at paper art. In addition the team have scheduled a programme of adult and family-friendly artist-led workshops to explore and experience various techniques in more depth.


The ‘Matisse and Contemporary Paper Artists Exhibition’ is open daily from Saturday 28 May till Sunday 4 September, 9am – 5.30pm. Pre-book a timed entry ticket online at Rheged.com or buy your tickets at Rheged’s main ticket desk – adults £3, children £2.


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