Discussing 'Bloom' with Danielle Sullivan

Bloom. Floral paper art installation.

Dyffryn is delighted to be hosting the latest installation by local paperwork artist, Danielle Sullivan. The piece, entitled 'Bloom' was erected in June 2019 and aims to encapsulate the natural beauty of Dyffryn through an intricate floral display made using old books. Before creating the display, we asked Danielle about her work and exactly what visitors can expect from her latest creation.

How long have you been using paper as a medium for your artwork, and what has inspired or influenced you?

I started using paper as a medium during my final year at University in 2014.  I was researching everyday objects at the time as I was interested in objects that could be re-used and re-interpreted to symbolise something new.

I was given a pile of second-hand books which were stowed away at my Nan's house.  It made me think of how books are often disregarded or forgotten about after they’ve been read.  I began creating experimental sculptural pieces from the books, symbolising botanical forms. 

My first installation was ‘Regrowth’ – a piece made entirely from second-hand books that resembled a sized-to-scale garden, that visitors could walk through.  This installation was exhibited as my final piece for my degree, and I have since created site-specific installations and sculptural pieces for different galleries and venues.

My work is inspired by nature and the idea of taking something that already exists and using it to convey a new meaning or purpose.

How long does it take you to prepare and build one of your installations?

Everything I create is either hand cut or hand folded – so creating large scale work usually takes a while!  An individual flower usually takes around 30 – 45 minutes to make, and I try to create most of the sculptural, detailed elements before building the piece in situ.

The installations are mostly site-specific, so the build time depends on the size of the space. 

I sometimes sketch down my ideas on paper, but I mostly let the piece lead me while I’m building – the installations are never final finished pieces, as they’re aimed to represent a new lease of life for the book – they could keep growing!

What aspects of Dyffryn are you most hoping to capture in your work, and what aspects will you use as inspiration?

I’m really looking forward to using one of the rooms in Dyffryn House that’s a little rough around the edges, which currently, isn’t open to the public.

The project will give visitors the opportunity to see the room in its natural state, with exposed floorboards and torn wallpaper, that’s bursting with history and character.  ‘Bloom’ will complement the natural beauty of the space, filling it with entwined vines, weeds, foliage, and wildflowers.  The installation aims to connect the outdoors with the indoors and will symbolise the growing beauty of Dyffryn House – past, present and future. 

Visitors will see dahlias, rose vines, and wildflowers growing from floor to ceiling – flowers that can also be spotted in the gardens.

How would you hope visitors will react or feel when viewing the installation?

I hope that the visitors will see the beauty and charm of the room in its natural, deteriorated condition – and how the installation compliments and emphasises this subtly.

The artwork is made from second-hand books that have been disregarded, thrown away or left to rot - no longer loved.  The detailed botanical elements in the work, symbolise the details of literature that have been hidden away in the pages - that have now been re-opened and re-imagined in a new form. The new lease of life that has been given to these second-hand books acts as a metaphor for the reopening of this room.  Once a dressing room that’s been out of bounds from the public for many years - now open.

I hope that viewers will notice this underlying message and see that the installation aims to convey the ongoing redevelopment of Dyffryn House – capturing its beauty and connecting the past with the present and future.