A Delicate Matter?

The Enchanting Worlds Conjured Up with Paper Sculptures

“As a sculptural medium paper is a beautiful paradox,” Toronto-based artist, Cybèle Young tells us. Her work brings paper to life, not by drawing or painting on it, but instead by making breathtakingly intricate, often large scale sculptural ‘communities’ out of it.

“There are limitless sculptural possibilities using the simplest of tools – and a perceived delicacy, when in reality it’s very strong and resilient.”

This contrast seems to delight Cybèle, as she uses this most humble of materials as building blocks for imaginative, whimsical worlds. Each of her works seems to have a distinctly narrative quality, which makes intrinsic sense given she is also a published author who illustrates her own books.

Her process of taking inspiration from seemingly mundane everyday experiences and transforming them into little fairytales has that unmistakable quality of evoking childhood experiences when you are lost in your own imagination. Cybèle recently featured in a solo exhibition entitled Some Changes Were Made at Forum Gallery in New York.

We were keen to delve deeper into Cybèle’s fantastical world:

The Plus: How did you first come to work with paper?
Cybèle Young:
I have vivid childhood tactile memories of using rice papers from Chinatown.
I came back to paper first at art school through printmaking where I discovered the beauty of Japanese paper, then in my early 20s when I had to create a sculptural practice that could accommodate my life as a new mom. Being accessible, versatile and affordable, the medium satisfied both my creative and practical needs.

TP: How do you transport the works for exhibition?
They are really very strong. I mount them in archival museum frames, but have also been known to tuck them in my pocket or a sandwich bag!

TP: You describe your works as ‘communities’ are you more of a benevolent dictator or are they democracies?
They feel like democracies. I wish I had more control in advance, but letting go is the only way to tap in to what needs to be said.

TP: Did you have a favourite illustrated story as a child?
The Borrowers was a favourite for obvious reasons, and Tomi Ungerer’s Crictor – pitch perfect story, beautiful line drawing, and a loveable snake.

TP: What’s the art scene like in Toronto?
The art scene is alive in unexpected people and places. Not necessarily where you’re told to go.

TP: Are you working on anything currently?
Miniature self-destructing kinetic performances – paper sculpture inspired by Jean Tinguely.

All images © Cybèle Young, Courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York.