Experiments in paper sculpture

Working with the Chicago-based graphic design company, Samata Mason, the idea was to produce a set of photographs for the Strategic Hotel annual report that would reflect the core values of the company.

My interest lies in material, and the methods of manipulation which make the best use of the material properties, so I aimed to create three dimensional representations of the ideas of beauty, luxury, taste, service and design. 

My working process is essentially experimental, I tend to let the material dictate the forms rather than forcing it to do something. Working in this manner with paper allows for the generation of many ideas in a short space of time, which can be developed into quite elaborate forms over time. It is almost like a process of evolution – I work on many different strands at the same time, and they tend to interweave and complement each other. I keep all of the models, no matter how rough, and I sometimes come back to them, cutting them up or refolding them, sometimes until there is nothing left of the original – but I document the whole process with photography throughout, as I consider everything to be of equal importance in the process. This also allows me to think about potential compositions for the final shoot. This set of images provides a snapshot of the working process, of ideas at various stages of resolution. 

Once the models are fully refined, I often photograph them against a plain, white backdrop. This has the effect of removing any sense of scale, so there is an ambiguity about the imagery – these could be perceived as colossal architectural structures, or as minuscule electron micro-graphs. Using all white also places full emphasis on the forms and shapes of the pieces – Iight and shadow reveals their tactile surfaces. The sculptures and the photography are both important in their own right, and I believe that the photograph should reveal as much information about the three dimensionality of the piece as possible. With Strategic Hotel, I gave the imagery quite a soft feel, akin to the hypnagogic imagery experienced before sleep – it is delicate and ephemeral.

Richard Sweeney www.richardsweeney.co.uk


Richard Sweeney was born and raised in Huddersfield, England. A keen academic, he was pressured to apply for Oxbridge by his college tutors, but instead opted to pursue a career in the creative arts.

From 2002-03, he studied at Batley School of Art and Design, discovering a natural talent for realising three dimensional form through hands-on material exploration.

Richard has just finished studying Three Dimensional Design at the Manchester Metropolitan University. He has found a niche working with flat sheet materials, manipulating form through the use of hand-craft and CNC manufacturing techniques.


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