Anna-Wili Highfield is the Sydney based artist behind these magical sculptures made of torn paper, ink, watercolour and thread. I was so intrigued when I first saw them that I had to find out more about them. Luckily for me Anna-Wili happily agreed to tell me more! So to you Anna-Wili, I say a BIG thank you for taking the time to do this interview and for sharing a bit of your creative world with us!
Could you tell us a bit about your journey in becoming an artist and if your father’s background in puppeteering influenced your desire to make and create art?
My father is a puppeteer. I think that watching him make his puppets and at times helping, allowed me access to a less conventional way of making art and exposure to more mature techniques at an early age. He taught me about colour and highlights and form and although my work now is stationary, perhaps his puppets have influenced the sense of movement and life I try to give my creatures.
I just made some puppets for Monkey Baa’s production FOX with my husband Simon Cavanough (a props maker). This was really fun.
What’s the inspiration behind your paper sculptures?
The first inspiration is nature. I’m a figurative artist but I’m not really interested in depicting people. I like to make a portrait of a creature and try to capture the life in that animal. The next inspiration is the medium. I don’t do any planning or drawings because I like the materials to dictate the composition and form. I like materials that have a resistance to them, so that you can be lead by the material. I think more exciting forms are created this way.
When did you begin working with paper?
I wanted to make something for my baby. I found some paper to make a Fairy Wren. At the time I used coloured paper and glue. I loved the medium and gradually my technique evolved to cotton paper and sewing instead of using other adhesives. My friend Bianca Spender commissioned a horse for her clothing boutique and I decided to make it from paper. I love working with paper. I’ve found the medium that suits me the most.
Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects we should look out for?
I have just installed some pieces in a show curated by Australian stylist and author Sibella Court in the Anthropologie gallery in New York. I will be making a few more Australian birds for another show there in July. At home I have commissions lined up for the next few months. I love working by commission. It’s really nice to make something especially for someone.
Are your works for sale and if so where can they be purchased?
I mainly work by commission by people contacting me through my website. The pieces on my site are previous commissioned sculptures. This works really well for me. Some artists hate commissions but i love freedom within a box.