Sunday, 17 April 2016

Tate Modern Flea Folly Architecture Course

I completed this artwork last summer and only realised recently I hadn't blogged about it.
The work was the final outcome of a six week course that ran at the Tate Modern with the architecture firm Flea Folly Architects.
We visited the Tate Modern galleries to get inspired after being directed to selected Surrealist works and a range of beautiful architectural etchings by Russian paper architects.

The Flea Folly Architects set us a brief to create a building from an old book. Pascall and Tom had bought a crate of used books and gave each person on the Tate course one each. Using the title and content of the book and works from the Tate as inspiration we were given full creative freedom to produce a building from the book to create a paper town.

Using paper cutting, folding, tearing and other techniques everybody set upon creating their own building based upon their book. We were encouraged to use the theme of the book to denote the buildings purpose / outcome. The book I was given was a biography of a Victorian war veteran Charles Gordon called, Gordon; Martyr and Misfit by Anthony Nutting. 

The content of the book was pretty heavy going but the gist of it was that Gordon was involved in the Civil war and then suppressing rebellions in China and also military exercises in Khartoum and Sudan. Needless to say the overall theme of the book was war and conflict. I decided that the book would have the purpose of military defense.

After playing around with paper folding and pleating using pages from the book, my initial thoughts were to create a defensive wall around the paper village. I started to cut into the walls by removing keywords from the text. I saved the words (I wasn't sure what I would do with them in the early stage) which later I glued onto thread that was used as a communication devise for the village. The many maps of military events in the book were manipulated by cutting away sections of the map to creat delicate almost 'stained-glass' looking pages. I interspersed these in the concertina-style defensive wall to add interest and serve to link the themes of  conflict, defense and travel to the village.

Here are some photos of my finished 'book-building' alongside the rest of the village. We displayed them in a room on the upper floors of the Tate with far-reaching views across the Thames - a perfect backdrop for the imagined village.

The rest of the books worked so well together to create this collaborative paper sculptural piece that looked amazing. Check out the photos below:

This 'waterfall' book was one of my favourite interpretations! Such fab use of highlighters!!
Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience and I would definitely return to the Tate Modern for a different practical workshop course.

This post is linked to #handmademonday organised by Julia of Sum of their Stories.


  1. Wow, that sounds like an interesting course, love how all your pieces worked together.

    1. Hi Louise, yes it was great fun to do and really made you think about the concept of space, architecture and paper craft. It was fantastic seeing how our individual book-buildings turned into a village!

  2. So lovely to see Brodsky and Utkin still celebrated. I saw their work in NZ in the 90's. So dream like that I sometimes wondered if I ever really went to the exhibition. What a wonderful town to create. Reminds me a little of Shaun Tan's work too.

    1. It was a really unique and fun experience. I had not been aware of Brodsky and Utkin until I attended the course - they are really cool! I will check out Shaun Tan's work too - always great to get new inspiration.

  3. What an interesting project, I love how everyone's different work all came together.