Lonnie Hutchinson’s artworks are intricately patterned and delicate; at first glance they recall the time-consuming sewing, crochet, knitting, and quilting that saw female hands kept busy with (unpaid) “women’s work” for the home. The material Hutchinson has chosen to use however, is neither fabric nor wool, but black builder’s paper. She takes a purely functional and mostly unseen element from a masculinised industry and turns it inside-out, exploring the medium’s decorative potential as a feminised art-object.
The materiality of each work is an immediate focal point. The dull tone and flattened sheen of the paper act as a foil for the structural integrity of the material. Textured cut-outs and concertina folds transform the flat paper planes into sculptural forms that slice through three-dimensional space. In addition to occupying space, Hutchinson’s artworks use absence as part of their structure. Black is traditionally the colour of emptiness but in these works, black signifies presence and solidity. The voids in these works are the places where black does not exist.
These negative spaces are not absent of content however. Each empty area operates as its own frame and reveals glimpses of a shadow-world existing behind each artwork. The shadows are transformations of the original pattern: they are an intrinsic part of each work’s narrative but their physical presence is transient, subject to the vagaries of light and movement. They are in-between, simultaneously of and not-of the art-object.
Like lace curtains, Hutchinson’s works simultaneously suggest and hide a view; we are left considering what is the aspect being framed - are we looking in or peering outwards? The motifs she employs are familiar and personal, and the titles of the works suggest an easy intimacy. The entwined foliage of A Remnant From Home evokes the longing for and importance of place and the stacked and conjoined figures in Seeking and You Never Know Dear remind us of the familial structures which link us to the past, present and future. Lonnie Hutchinson’s paper hangings offer a metaphorical window into our own experiences of the world: as we look out, we look in.