Meet Nicole, our latest Paper & Cup artist - and barista!

Ali Rawlings from our social enterprise Restoration Station met with Nicole, our Paper & Cup barista and artist, currently exhibiting her fabulous ‘popup’ art in our not-for-profit coffee bookshop in Shoreditch.

“I worked for the Spitalfields Crypt Trust during my year off after leaving school. I was one of seven who worked on all the different projects at SCT, so we got a really good overview of the whole trust, all the work they did and all the different stages that people go through in their recovery.  It was a very good insight”.

So what made Nicole want to come back?  “The people mostly. I think the organisation is doing such a good job bringing people together and helping them. I learned and gained so much from my colleagues and the people that use the services. I have always liked working here so when they opened the café a couple of years ago I found out there was an opening, applied and got the job”

I think the organisation is doing such a good job bringing people together and helping them. I learned and gained so much from my colleagues and the people that use the services. I have always liked working here so when they opened the café a couple of years ago I found out there was an opening, applied and got the job.

After leaving SCT, Nicole studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths.  After her degree she travelled for a year to Australia, staying in Melbourne for much of the time and then New Zealand, Poland and back to England.

Nicole gained a lot of inspiration for her pop- up art from travelling. She said “I am really interested in architecture, not so much that I wanted to go into working in that field but I do love making things and I love paper. So I spend a lot of time cutting out architectural objects with a focus on detail.  The ones on display in the café are pop-ups, even though they are installed in a frame they would in theory fold together as a flat piece of paper”.

 The exhibition was set up right after the London Bridge attack and a customer pointed out that she really liked the title, that we need more bridges – physical or not - to connect with people and not drive ourselves apart.

The pieces in the exhibition at the Paper and Cup are very delicate and intricate. I asked her how long one piece takes to make?  “It depends, if I just make up a new kind of city, that can take a couple of hours but if I base it on places I have visited then it is a bit more complicated. I take photographs of buildings. Then it needs translating into a kind of 2D-sculpture, to pop-up from a flat sheet of paper.

The pieces in the exhibition at the Paper and Cup are very delicate and intricate.

Because the pop-up will obviously not have four walls like the real buildings do, that could take a day or two.  Cutting is fairly quick, but then folding is tricky again, because you need to make sure it folds at the right spots and not just in between”. Sounds like an exact science “It is a bit mathematical, yes, you have to be very precise and patient.  It was hard when it was sunny recently not to wilt the paper with my hot hands.  It’s quite a challenge but good fun too, I enjoy it”.

So now you are back and at Paper & Cup, are the same people still here from SCT?

“A few yes, and then some lovely new people as well. It is great to see former colleagues. It makes you realise that people are happy to work here. The charity has been going for over 50 years now, and I think that is because it’s such a wonderful place to work”.

It is great to see former colleagues. It makes you realise that people are happy to work here. The charity has been going for over 50 years now, and I think that is because it’s such a wonderful place to work”.

We wandered over to Paper & Cup to get a good look at Nicole’s exhibition up front and get some insight into her creative processes.

There is a beautiful tiny industrial pylon impossibly created, in fact it looks carved from paper and installed inside a large Victorian glass dome. Nicole made this in Melbourne and brought it back into the country in a spice jar.

It has been bought by a couple who are friends of Nicole’s,  as it reminded them of travelling through America. That is the beauty of the tiny paper models: they are made from a sheet of plain paper, yet they invoke memories and stories of the places that inspired them.

We picked out a few other pieces, some typographical and some architectural pop-ups, and talked about them with Nicole - see below.

Nicole Buning’s exhibition is at Paper and Cup on Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch until 31 July.

Nicole Buning’s exhibition is at Paper and Cup on Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch until 31 July.

MELBOURNE

“This is a concertina work with just 3 pages, each with a pop-up of a typical Melbourne residential house.  I cut out all three from one long sheet of paper, so I hadto be careful not to make any mistakes. I just love the houses that they live in there. They look so romantic. They are not old if you compare them with Europe, not at all, yet they nonetheless have these feelings of nostalgia”.

And then they built them bridges to connect them while the water was rising – “That was kind of an experiment of the medium; pop-ups on either side of the frame, and it creates this street in between, or it could also be a river.  The exhibition was set up right after the London Bridge attack and a customer pointed out that she really liked the title, that we need more bridges – physical or not - to connect with people and not drive ourselves apart”.

GAN CANNY

“They say this in Newcastle and it means “Take it easy”. It’s such a beautiful phrase and it is mind- blowing how it seems to be enclosed in this region and it doesn’t travel out.  A lot of people from London didn’t know the saying and this piece became quite a talking point. When I came to London I my friend from Newcastle taught me this one straight away, so for me it seems very everyday but turns out it’s not at all”.

SWEET AS

"That’s a bit Cockney isn’t it? ”I think ‘sweet as’ is often used in New Zealand and Australia, and you don’t have to have a comparison to how sweet.  It is just ‘sweet as’, that’s enough”.

One thing I noticed about Nicole, she must have a lot of patience…”I think so.  I think that is one quality you need.  It can get frustrating at times but it can also be quite meditative too, a good exercise to help you to breathe, stay calm and take your time”.

Thank you to Ali - our features writer and member of our recovery community -  for the interview.

Find Nicole on Instagram

www.nicolebuning.com

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