Origami has been Gill Pyke’s passion since childhood.
By day, Gill (aka Catamation) works in the digital world as an illustrator, animator and designer, and at night she has a not-so-secret life as an analogue artist, making miniature insects, flowers and plants in origami. “Brisbane has such an awesome variety of insect life and tropical plants that’s it’s a constant source of inspiration for my drawing, printmaking and origami pieces.”
Not surprisingly, another of her loves are Issey Miyake Vogue dress patterns. She says of them ,”They are like sewing an origami project. I have a maths/science background as well [from studying Industrial Design], so I’m fascinated by mathematical concepts such as the ‘golden ratio’. And I use a lot of mathematics and geometry in designing new origami folds.”
A brief browse through her pieces will reveal that not all of them are made from plain paper – many are printed with patterns and text that are utilised to enhance the work. She explains that all of the paper stocks she uses are made with a high percentage of recycled content. “I also like to experiment with what I find in second-hand stores and flea markets [but] no books are harmed in my process – I only use books that can no longer be used as books.”
Gill remembers a childhood that was filled with drawing and painting, along with a large variety of other creative activities.
“Everyone in my family has a hobby or a craft. We weren’t allowed to watch much television when I was little so I’ve always been doing something. I got my first sewing machine (battery operated) when I was about 4. Mum used to buy large rolls of paper from the newspaper company and I would make paper clothes, colour them in with crayons then staple my younger sister in to them. When I got my first car I decorated it with paisley shapes cut out from book covering contact. I’ve painted sneakers and had the whole house smell yucky from hot rubber while I heat set the fabric paint by baking them in the oven. I’ve bought old plain dresses from the op-shop and screenprinted or hand drawn designs on them.”
In fact, there were so many activities in Gill’s family home, that when her parents wanted to renovate the kitchen, she felt a bit melancholy and sentimental about it. “The saddest part of this was replacing the old bench top. It has drill holes, burn marks, cut marks and lots of other memories and scars from all of the crafty projects we’ve done over the years.”
Other family members have been influential too. “My nana taught me to cross stitch/embroider, crochet and knit when I was quite young. My dad was always working out in his shed with wood and metal (I helped when he made a wooden boat/yacht or two, as well as making a few electronic projects like an electronic piano). Mum was always sewing, and did some leatherwork and macramé. And we did a bit of origami on rainy days, amongst tie dyeing and all sorts of other things.”
But she never mastered felting. She laughs, “All the attempts I’ve made to felt have ended in disaster. Didn’t really solve the problem – just set the project/s aside” – along with a whole bunch of other stuff! She admits her biggest problem is “storage. I have so many craft supplies and half finished projects.” [Me too, Gill, me too.]
Such a busy life of ideas and making is reflected in her current workspace, which she describes as “A very large desk with all sorts of shelves and drawers and jars stacked up in a corner. A large bookshelf to the right with a heap of art books, paper supplies etc. A cluttered wall space to the left covered in postcards, photographs, drawings etc (my wonderwall). And a window directly in front of me, that overlooks the neighbour’s tropical garden.” Sounds gloriously full!
Gill exhibits regularly, and sells most of her work through galleries in Australia and USA. If you are lucky enough to live in Brisbane, she also has a stall at the craft markets there. If you can’t get to Brissy, she has a small selection of work available through Etsy here. You can also find her on Facebook.
And in case you’re wondering, all her pieces are coated with epoxy varnish to ensure durability. And I really can’t get over how precisely perfect they are.
With thanks to Gill for sharing her words & images here.