Beekman 1802 is devoted to all things “heirloom”, and in some sense this is a romantic way of saying that we value permanance.
We love going through old buildings and houses and seeing built-in cabinets or light fixtures or windows that were created specifically for that place. Craftsmanship aside, their value is intimately related to the place in which the reside.
We apply this philosophy in how we adorn our own home. If we are good stewards, the house will be here another 220 years, and, hopefully, pieces of our history will, too. (The Table we added to the dining room is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.)
We recently had artist Thom Mullins create an installation for the curved wall that serves as the backdrop for the main staircase in the house. It is tailored to perfectly fit the space and out of context would lose much of its meaning.
Thom works in paper-cutting, and generally his works are traditional silhouettes, but for this piece we drew inspiration from the grid method of drawing–where an image is broken down into small squares and the focus is on drawing a very minute part of the whole image. When all of the small squares are combined, the subject becomes apparent.
After walking around the farm and taking hundreds of photographs, Thom constructed a panoramic scene of the farm with the house reflected upside down in the pond.
Then he broke the scene down into it’s parts and started painstakingly cutting each element out of thin black paper. With over 70 panels, the project took over 2 months to complete.
“Hardly a traditionalist, I use my laptop to create detailed images and boil them down to high-contrast black and white images or silhouettes. The illustrations become the base art for my cuttings. With some cuttings, I aim to have the piece be one piece of paper, with details cut away, leaving on sheet of paper. With other projects, particularly ones that float between glass, I step outside the box. For the Beekman Project, I wanted the Beekman Mansion to appear white against a silhouette of trees, clouds and sky. So the shadowed areas of the railings and windows were free-floating cuts of paper. This allowed the mansion, which is painted white to remain white in the piece, instead of making it appear black.”
He uses a small blade to make the precision cuts required for the balustrades of the house. Even the artist’s signature is delicately cut out of paper.
“I placed a goat overlooking the property, since goat-milk products have become the mainstay of the farm. And of course, the farm’s real diva, a llama named Polka Spot was featured.”
The artist even captured a rainstorm passing through the distant valley, something that we often sit on the back porch and watch.
A view of the installation from the downstairs central hallway. As the sun moves throughout the day, the colors reflected in the glass of the frame mirrors what is happening outside. Because the wall is curved, light penetrates the glass and reflects off of the light color wall behind, making the piece seem illuminated.
A view of the installation from the top of the stairs. A wall that was once unmemorable now is a focal point as you pass from one level of the house to another.
Artist Thom Mullins preparing to install the last frame. The installation process took 4 people over 3 hours to complete.
Of course PolkaSpot had to be problematic.
About the Artist
Thom Mullins, a city-boy at heart, lives in the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, northwest of Philadelphia. He was born in London and has lived all over the world. He has been a graphic designer and journalist for some twenty years, having published several magazines showcasing the arts.
“My art work is influenced by my travels throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. My designs touch upon unique ethnic and cultural storytelling traditions, which often include papercuttings. You see papercuttings in Chinese (Jianzhi), Japanese (Kirie), Thai (Nang Yai papercut puppets) Indonesian (Batik), Mexican (Papel Picado), and European traditions. Right here, the Pennsylvania Dutch, have an art form they call ‘Scherenschnitte.’ There is a natural connection between this art form and my work in silhouettes, and tone-on-tone designs. My work pays homage to these classic design traditions, but I aim to give everything a modern twist.”
Visit his website to purchase some of his work or to inquire about commissioning pieces for your own home.