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This Artist Turns Leaves into Patterned Works of Art

With a fine blade, Nina Pearse creates freeform motifs from Mother Nature.
All images courtesy of the artist

Taking simple leaves and cutting directly into their surfaces, Sydney-based artist Nina Pearse creates sculptures so delicate they appear to be designed by Mother Nature herself. With a fine blade, Pearse creates fluid, freeform motifs by making precise structural cuts. Similar to architectural modeling, each decision is made with direct precision and planning, as Pearse cuts away the plant's green tissue, creating meticulous structural patterns.


With their delicately cut geometric designs, Pearse's leaves look as though they were constructed from paper, and not from a brittle organic material. Her artwork mirrors what leaves look like when they are decomposing: when their colorful tissue fades and underlying skeletal structure becomes increasingly visible. "I feel a powerful sense of wonder in regards to the natural world and have always been inspired by dried skeletal structures of leaves which have fallen off the trees during autumn and winter," Pearse tells Creators.

"This beautiful natural lattice demonstrated an opportunity for me to work on actual leaves, allowing me to realize nature's capacity for reinvention," she explains. Pearse began paper cutting during her final years of high school and has, since then, transitioned to using leaves as her primary medium, creating original works of art that not only have a permanency but that cannot be easily replicated.

An architecture school graduate, Pearse is inspired by the minimalism, logic, and often cubist composition of modernist buildings. "I think that a lot of design which I studied at university is evident in my work," says Pearse. "Richard Serra and Peter Zumthor are two of my favorite contemporary designers, both demonstrating uncompromising and minimalist design. The clean lines and simplistic design of influential designers such as Gerrit Rietveld and Marcel Breuer have always influenced my work and designs."


With the continuous advancement in technology and laser cutting techniques, Pearse believes that there is great empowerment in original blade work as hand-cut objects can't be easily replicated. "By solely using paper and leaves, I want to challenge my viewers to explore the dividing line between manufactured man-made forms and nature," Pearse explains.

Unlike with painted or pencil-drawn works, Pearse cannot cover up any errors; she must begin again and start her process from scratch. Initially drawing triangular and rectangular shapes over specific sections of a plant, she then carefully cuts her designs into each leaf.

To enable her leaves to stand the toll of time, she preserves them, and then dries them for six months, before finally framing them. She says, "It's a very slow process, but I love the idea of using a completely natural material to create art. Some species of leaves gradually change color over the years, creating an ever-evolving piece of nature within the space."

To view more work by Nina Pearse, click here.


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