Space Face

Here’s my latest papercut head in the Exquisite Corpse collaboration with Peter Lloyd.


I always loved playing with my Mr Potato Head when I was a kid. I thought it was great, the variations you could get by simply changing the arrangements of the same few elements.

On the web, people present themselves the ways they want to be seen. Images are photoshopped, or even stolen to give new identities to those who want to present themselves as being more attractive than they really are. (Or think they are!) Nothing is as it seems. Straight women have online identities as gay men, and silver-backs enter chat rooms masquerading as teenagers.


So here we have a face made from a vintage space-age ‘Mr Potato Head’ box. (And yes, there was such a thing, and I found a picture of one on Etsy!) Here the man/woman of the future is a series of disconnected parts put together to suit the mood of the moment. It’s retro, with the hipster’s post-modern nod to a naive past when we all thought that by the twenty-first century, space travel was going to be the equivalent of the rail network.


Instead we remain earth-bound, though we use satellites as the highway to carry our endless chit-chat. We present ourselves at a distance. No direct contact, just images and words through the ether. Moreover, when the box has been emptied of all its plastic parts, it’s just a void with a picture on a lid. Hey ho!

I have no Mr Potato Head any more, so now I play with Mr Peter Lloyd. Our scalpels are sharp and so are our wits, and our heads are full of pictures.


Peter Lloyd: All that thinking, all those connections and personal observations tied together, practically and conceptually in the scaffold of a simple Papercut. What other process would allow us to knit these disparate thoughts together into one unified image? What a weird, surreal thing you have created, unlike anything I’ve seen you make to date… you’re there Clive…

Clive Hicks-Jenkins: What have you done to me?

Peter Lloyd: It’s what Bowie would have wanted!

Clive Hicks-Jenkins: Then all is as it should be. (Sigh!)

Below: the cut in progress


After making a swift sketch of the layout on the black paper, I launched in with the scalpel. Had I thought about it too much… which bits would be black on white and which the reverse… I think I never would have even started. Instead I cut away like a man demented. I find it’s the same when reverse-cutting blocks for printing. If I think too much about the process, I just get tied up in knots. Sometimes I find it’s best to work out the problems while getting on with the job. Too much planning can knock the momentum and energy out of it. If it goes wrong, you can always make another.

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10 thoughts on “Space Face

  1. Never had a “Mr. Potato Head”, but plenty of “Cooties”, which is perhaps why my descriptions of things tend to use the word “insectile” quite a bit…I hear that Mr. Svankmeyer is working on some sort of bug film….homage to the “Cameraman’s Revenge”?
    BTW, thanks for your site/blog, etc…truly inspiring to this here artiste…

  2. I had a Mr Potato Head kit, when I was a child, which dated back to the 1950s and was given to me by a friend of my parents. This was before the plastic head was introduced, so it meant raids on the vegetable rack were necessary!!

    I think you might enjoy this Mad-Men style vision of the future – 1999 (AD) – which was made in 1967. It’s surprisingly prescient in places, although they failed to spot the importance of the keyboard/keypad/phone to future communications, instead knobs loom large! Oh yes and women still know their place!!

    • Ah ha, this week has undoubtedly kicked off with a serious bout of nostalgia. Those Mr Potato Head boxes I posted at Facebook had me hunting Etsy like a truffle-hound. (Etsy was where I found my boxed, mint-perfect 1960s Visible Man, sent to me from the US by the shop-owner who’d struggled to account for all the pieces, but couldn’t be sure the set was intact. It was.) No such luck today. Space Potato-Head is proving elusive.

      The link you sent proved an interesting distraction from what I should be doing, but now I must get back to Hansel & Gretel. Out with the Space-Age-Potato-Robot, and in with Jelly-Babies, Liquorice Allsorts and Gingerbread Zombies!

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