Polly Verity is an artist based in the UK.
Her paper sculptures explore patterns and shadows, and are complex and varied, from organic crumple forms to elaborate tessellations, often including curved folds. Her sculptures depict mythological and imaginary beasts and creatures.
Influenced by 3D wireframe computer modelling techniques, her building process is aimed to successfully capture the creature's essence in 3D, while preserving the fine and translucent qualities of the paper formation.
Her artwork has been displayed in several exhibitions in Europe and the United States.
Daughter of artists, Polly Verity grew up in an environment where there were plenty of art materials to hand and she was encouraged to experiment. Her step-grandfather, Eric de Mare had written a book “Your Book of Paperfolding” in the 1960s. Later on, when she was about 8, he gave her a copy. This inspired a journey in paper, the idea that you could transform a flat sheet into three dimensions was very exciting. She has been experimenting with paper ever since.
Whereas origami has been practiced for hundreds of years, a pure abstract tessellated form is relatively recent with the Bauhaus first experimenting in 1920’s. Polly’s paper folding designs follow this more recent investigation and because there were at that time no books written on the subject, she has been helped along the way by some very brilliant friends in the origami world.
In the late noughties Polly happened upon something that she likens to a spontaneous university of geometric origami. These were halcyon days of folding and discovery. A small pocket of like-minded folders from all over the world (Japan, America, Brasil, Europe etc) came together on the internet to share images of their folds and ideas. It felt like a specialised University course of tessellations and corrugations forged in real time, as it went along, by its students. This time led on to Polly attending the Origami Convention in New York (OUSA) for a couple of years running where she was lucky to meet and share ideas with international folders from around the world who are at the top of their class. Polly’s folds are mainly abstract geometric repeat patterns, each created just by folding a sheet (no cuts). There is an infinite variety of forms that can arise from this method and Polly chooses folds that are particularly photogenic and striking due to the dramatic effects that are created when light (particularly a side, raking light) hits one of the pieces. Polly usually works in a white paper so there are no distractions for the eye in the medium itself and the white paper shows off the sharp form to best advantage.
The process is as follows:
The paper fold is initially eased into shape by hand onto a small piece of paper. Then the paper is opened out and the lines carefully, mathematically transcribed into a computer line drawing. Once this drawing is refined and tested and with the repeat tessellation computed, the line data is sent to a desktop cutter that cuts very slightly into the paper in order to score it. The paper is then folded by hand along these scores. Each sculpture is made from one sheet of paper with no cuts or glue.
Some of the designs are used for dresses, the artist creates paper dresses that due to the nature of the paper, can usually only be worn once. Polly has created paper dresses for weddings, performance and for photo-shoots.
Recent developments have seen the artist/designer begin to work with curved folds especially curve fold repeat patterns. This has produced some surprising and exciting results.
In the early 90s Polly became self-trained in 3D computer modelling. This involves a process whereby a virtual 3D wireframe is used as the basis for the 3D models. For the mythological creatures, she thought of using wireframe in the same way but in real-life. Manipulating materials in a hands-on way was very refreshing. “You have to be observant all the time, each line is just as important as another. Like computer lines, the wire is relatively easy to “undo” if I get something wrong. I mostly get my inspiration from the spirit of the thing that I am making. If I am working on a creature then I have many views and images as well as sketches to work from but I chose images that really reverberate on both a guttural and other-worldly level”. Early 80s computer graphics are her influences such as Steven Lisberger’s movie Tron and David Braben and Ian Bell’s 3D wireframe game Elite. Very simple visual information is all that is necessary and so the intension is to pare down as much as possible to the essentials. In the early 80s it was essential to get the code as tight as possible to save precious memory and this aesthetic has been taken on board in real wireframe. The structure is cold formed from pure silver wire by carefully wrapping wire around itself and the elements built up to describe the external contours like a delicate exoskeleton, then fine paper is applied to create a taut translucent skin. This is a technique that Polly devised herself.