A NATURAL INSTINCT
Designindia|Designindia 114
Nibha Sikander’s 3D figures of birds and insects are intended to draw attention to the wonders of nature. She tells Sonalee Tomar of ‘The Indian Curator’ how she was drawn to the art of paper-cutting.

Take us to the beginning of your story.

NS: I started cutting paper over 15 years ago and when I first started, it literally involved taking a single piece of paper and cutting it into abstract forms. This developed into more stencil-like forms using colored paper. Almost six or seven years ago, I developed this technique of laying paper from the top and adding thicker paper in-between, to add more body and make it more relief sculpture like.

Tell us about the evolution of your practice over the years.

NS: I find that my work itself speaks to my commitment to paper. Each work takes me several days to complete and is a complete immersion in the paper, and the papercutting process, which has allowed me to reach this level of technical ability. I feel that paper has the ability to be flexible as well as stiff when required, which really does help me in the process of creating my various natural forms.

What were your biggest learnings and hiccups along the way? Which is the most memorable moment?

NS: I guess I would have to highlight the technical side of my work. I do learn and discover new things as I work. As I work, in this case with birds, moths and insects, I make mistakes. When each work progresses, I am able to correct my mistakes, and sometimes I can add or subtract the paper as I go along. It is this process that I enjoy the most when I'm working.

The hiccup came when I opted to pursue Visual Arts (Painting) at the Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara, and felt like I had to conform to the structure of painting with watercolor or acrylic or oil. I struggled to find a way to incorporate my paper-cutting technique into such a rigidly structured undergraduate degree. Though I did experiment with paper a bit in the fourth year of my Bachelor’s and my Master’s as well, upon graduating I gave up other mediums to focus on paper.

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