Collage: a double-take

glenn ibbitson fashion shoot

“Fashion Shoot” 33x22cm

glenn ibbitson blue nude

“Blue Nude” 84x56cm


I Initially adopted collage to sidestep a period of artists block; using high quality, full colour, glossy magazine print as source material. Used primarily as a mosaic technique, the paper selected was chosen only for its colour and tone. The paper-punch collages represent extreme examples. This tight control over the medium relaxed once aspects of the actual printed imagery were absorbed into the compositions. Increasingly, the success of a work hinges on one fragment of torn paper, which provides that special intersection of textural or colour juxtaposition, not evident when originally embedded in the printed page. It cannot be manufactured; it is discovered, and usually only by accident. Its incorporation represents the point at which the composition assumes a life of its own and deviates positively from the original plan. Surfaces are constantly adjusted through a series of overlayerings, and areas of particular detail are more painstakingly constructed with smaller paper fragments. A unique characteristic of this form of collage is the variation in focus which one is able to achieve by combining the printed image edges with the physical tears of the paper fragment itself, producing ambiguities of form and space.

January 2008

glenn ibbitson studio floor
“Across the Studio Floor”  84x56cm

glenn ibbitson sequencer

“Sequencer” 35x45cm
glenn ibbitson Icarus

“Plunge: the fall of Icarus” collage and applied origami   80x50cm

“It is the juxtaposition of contradictory means through which the collage is built which interests me.”
Using the high quality, glossy print of lifestyle magazines, a piece of sky from a fashion-shoot backdrop may become the pearly shadow across a leg; a fragment of pleated drape is transformed into a section of regency balustrade.
The fragmented construction is utilised to infer a narrative content; elusive and somewhat disquieting. The human figure stalks these works, but as a presence only half grasped, on the move: emerging from, or retreating back into interior shadow.

Contemporary collage? Look on the internet. Collage is mired in an easily wrought international style of surreal juxtapositions with little modulation and less thought. The medium’s most apparent feature is also its greatest weakness. There is little or no integration of its individual elements. Composition and theme are dictated by the component fragments -not by the artist. The medium seems to have barely graduated beyond the level of a mid-teens level art class execise. The results suggest piles of magazines, apair of scissors and a pot of paste on a classroom deskby a window looking onto a bedrizzled Friday afternoon playground. Roll on the weekend…
Collage could be so much more than this Just because the materials are ready to hand, the artwork need not be so crass. Lets face it, the medium of oil painting is simply coloured mud and basic chemistry. Yet in the hands of gifted painters, it has been utilised to to map and navigate the vastness of human experience.
Is paper so resistant a material that only the very few can master the obvious discrepancies of scale and colour printing discordance between fragments?
Is collage regarded as a secondary discipline because of a perception that it is not a colourfast material? If cared for and protected in the same way as watercolour, a collage should have a comparable life-span.
I came across these collages by Glenn Ibbitson recently. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at; mixed-media paintings or digitally manipulated photographs? they imparted that slightly unnerving feeling one experiences upon entering a populated space, where the first few seconds are spent rather anxiously scanning the room for a familiar face. In those few moments, surveying a wide field of variable focus, certain textures and shapes assume an unwarranted significance because they may offer familiarity. Gradually, elements ease into focus and begin to make sense in their allocated space. Precisely how these images worked on me.
Christa Aachen: review October 2008

glenn ibbitson stripes

“Interior with stripes” relief collage 40x40cm [irregular format]

more work at:


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