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Horrorgami: Turning A4 Paper Into Haunted Houses

by Olly Ricketts
31 October 2012 2 Comments

As deadly as a paper cut and more frightening than the Adam's Family, Marc Hagan-Guirey tells us about his spooky origami artwork...

A4 paper is not usually renowned for its eerie qualities. A paper cut can bring a tear to the eye; words on a page can bring rejection, heartbreak or, most usually, inform you that your disposable income for the month is 67p, but it is not generally considered a particularly spooky resource. 31-year-old Marc Hagan-Guirey (based in London, originally from Northern Ireland) looks set to change that in the coming weeks with his Horrorgami  exhibition at London’s Gallery One-And-A-Half. Horrorgami sees Hagan-Guirey recreate 13 iconic horror movie locations using a technique called Kirigami (similar to origami, but involving both folding and cutting paper). Each piece uses just a single piece of A4 paper. Though only 4 pieces have been revealed in advance of the exhibition  - The Shining, The Amityville Horror, The Exorcist and The Addams Family –  the results already look to be spectacular; so much so that this week the project’s website (www.paperdandy.co.uk – Marc works under the moniker Paper Dandy) saw its 100,000th visit.

Despite having some knowledge of the machinations of the industry through his work in advertising, Hagan-Guirey is nonetheless surprised by the momentum that the project has gained:

“Yeah, [I’m] absolutely blown away by it all”, he explains. “Because of my background in advertising I know that things don’t just happen, you have to start feeding it yourself. In July I started just contacting a few different magazines letting them know what I was doing, and I thought it might interest them with Halloween coming up, but it’s got a life of its own. You hope that you might do something that catches on.”

Catch on it most certainly has. Among the 100,000 visitors to the site are the likes of The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith and Chris Addison from The Thick of It. Given Marc’s obsession with horror, however, it is perhaps unsurprising that he is most gushing when describing praise from people within the industry:

I sent a Tweet (not actually to him) asking ‘how much longer do I have to wait for Bryan Fuller’s reboot of The Munsters? Can’t wait to see it’, Hagan-Guirey recalls. “He [Fuller] then tweeted back to me saying that it’s ‘not long now’ and that he loves Horrorgami, and said that I’m a man after his own heart. After I literally jumped up and down on the spot, he emailed me and sent me some stills of the new Munsters, so I sent him [images of] the Munsters Horrorgami. We’re hopefully going to meet up for a drink and he’s talking about buying the Munsters Horrorgami.”

The exhibition features locations from 13 different movies spanning the eclectic horror genre, from the relatively family-friendly likes of Beetlejuice and Ghostbusters, to the truly disturbing 1973 classic Don’t Look Now. The pieces truly come alive in their back-lit display cases.

“They’re really high quality”, Hagan-Guirey explains. “I’ve spent a small fortune on these cases but they’re completely worth it. They make the piece.”

Perhaps the most impressive element of the work is that all 13 pieces have been produced using a single sheet of A4 paper. Would it not have been far less stressful to just use A1?

“I like the challenge of trying to do a representation of a building on just a sheet of A4”, declares Hagan-Guirey. “Because I’m quite limited with what I can do with the paper it’s kind of up to the person that’s looking at them to fill in the blanks using their memory of the film to paint the bigger picture. I think that’s why everyone who has seen them in the flesh has turned to me with a big grin on their face, saying ‘this is amazing; I really remember the film and I remember this bit and that bit’; it’s such a compliment that people have that reaction.”

Small though the works may be, it’s immediately evident from the works’ sheer amount of detail that a huge amount of work goes into each one. After watching each film several times (“I’m like a method actor!”), the work begins in earnest with him producing several sketches. From these, Hagan-Guirey produces myriad prototypes, before very deliberately leaving the piece for several weeks. Upon returning to the work he takes a plethora of photographs, which are studied for any changes he feels are required.

13 pieces, each an edition of 13, requires…lots of time and effort. But it doesn’t end there, as Hagan-Guirey explains:

“There are 13 in the series but there are probably 20 altogether. The other seven didn’t quite make the cut. I was going to do the castle from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I did a model of it and it wasn’t recognisable enough. You only actually see a couple of shots of it in the film. I then went back and started thinking about the classic Dracula, and went back and watched the original Nosferatu. There are several different castles that people associate with Dracula. You could make anything and call it Castle Dracula and people would only really have to take your word for it.”

Castle Dracula was replaced by the aforementioned Don’t Look Now, a piece of which Hagan-Guirey is particularly proud. The research for this particular work was not without its drama, however:

“A friend of mine has two kids, and they’d never seen it before”, remembers Hagan-Guirey, somewhat sheepishly. “I was really excited about watching these two kids shit themselves – but we got halfway through the film and I realised that there’s a really graphic sex scene in it! So I was the one sitting there awkwardly, thinking ‘oh no they’re going to have to see Julie Christie sucking Donald Sutherland’s toes’…that was a horror of a different kind.”

All 13 Horrorgami are on display at Gallery One-And-A-Half (http://www.one-and-a-half.com/) between November 1st and November 14th. You may never look at the humble A4 – or indeed Donald Sutherland’s toes – in the same way again..

The Origins of Horrorgami by Paper Dandy from The Headquarters on Vimeo.

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Ian Long 12:20 pm, 31-Oct-2012

Great article can't wait to see these in the "flesh". I really like the Shining one he has done.

James P 4:11 pm, 31-Oct-2012

Definitely going to go to the exhibition. Maybe for his next trick he can try and recreate the sex scene from DLN in origami...

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