Purpose Driven Paper Art by Patricia Mitchell

Fair warning, this first image might make you shudder or perhaps your reaction will be like mine... one of total fascination.

square collage of paper cut butterflies and dragonflies layered with beetles
 A cluster of cut paper butterflies and dragonflies mingle with preserved beetles.

I'm endlessly impressed by those who have the patience to cut and fold to the extent that Patricia Mitchell of Hampshire, England does to create beautifully framed shadow box collages. But when one is as passionate about subjects as she is, energy flows and the result is statement art. A botanical, zoological and humanitarian paper and mesh artist, Patricia's assemblages draw on travel experiences and conservation work in Africa. Large scale works are commissioned for display in retail spaces and hotels, and are available in fine art galleries.

paper cut collage of elephants and foliage in neutral colors

Via her website: From the magic of a murmuration of starlings, the plight of global deforestation, a myriad of majestic African animals, to abstracting the beauty of the blooms of an Easter Lily cactus, to even a colourful selection of bees, dragonflies and beetles – every piece Patricia sculpts from paper comes with thought provoking connotations.

circular handpainted dimensional paper butterfly collage in white shadow box

Patricia, would you be willing to share your process with those of us who are also makers?

Cutting paper: when I first started, the process was so long and laborious. I used to cut by hand! So the time it took to create a piece versus the sales price just didn’t make sense. I invested in a cutting machine and now draw the shape, scan and silhouette it on my PC, scan, resize and multiply on the cutting machine, prepare the paper, line it up and press the button. I still have to guide the paper whilst cutting and cut the detail in my hand, so it’s still a process - but my hands aren’t as tired and achy now.

folded paper rocks from atlas pages arranged as collage on a square, neutral background

You create found paper origami, such as the 100 cm square piece, Rock My World, above, and Walk of Life, below. 

Origami is a hobby and I use it as a therapy. I suffered two significant family deaths in three years so origami became my comfort blanket. The shoe piece took 80 hours to make, over two to three weeks. People knit, or scrap book, stitch or bake cakes ..... I do origami in multiples! I find it a great comfort. The slippers are incredibly fiddly, but great fun to make. The origami rocks were also fun and it was really interesting to see how that piece evolved.

square collage of miniature origami shoes folded from patterned papers 

How are your hands coping with the demands of repetition?

My hands are a mess - I could look after them better. Manicures happen before holidays when I don’t work, but I have studio hands for the rest of the year. Paper makes your hands dry so I just use cocoa butter - nothing special. I do have chunky fingers - introduce me to an artist with beautiful hands? Our beauty lies within. I love what my hands can do!

ivory paper cut jungle animal collage on grey background

Visit Patricia Mitchell Design to see more of her altruistic work including abstract aluminum mesh and gold elephants that address poaching. (Longtime followers know that a metallic flash will always lure me in.) Keep up with new projects via Patricia Mitchell Design on Instagram where you can take a look at the elephants on display at a luxe hotel bar.


Ann Martin
Ann Martin

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