Spring into these beautiful paper designs

The intricately detailed and colourful world of nature is perfectly captured by artists – AND SISTERS – Clare Scholes and Joy Stewart
Martina Gemmola

Handfuls of delicately painted and individually cut paper feathers and petals swirl across the workspaces of paper artists – and siblings – Clare Scholes and Joy Stewart.

Despite them living on different continents, it’s impossible – even to the sisters – to tell who made what. The pair’s creative business, Mondocherry, was formed 10 years ago when the sisters were based in Brisbane.

Papercut artists Mondocherry
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

Who: Clare Scholes and Joy Stewart of Mondocherry.

What they do: Hand-cut and painted paper art.

Where: Melbourne, Victoria.

Why they do it: “I think if you’ve got a creative soul, you need to get it out there,” says Clare.

Hand-cut and painted art by Mondocherry
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

With Clare now in Melbourne and Joy in Singapore, each series of artworks begins with a verbal idea, without sketches or anything else visual. “The picture in our head is often very clear and compelling,” says Clare.

“We’ve been creating together for so long we can almost read each other’s mind and we seem to instinctively agree on when an artwork is finished.” They speak to each other up to six times a day and, at a certain point, share photos to make sure they’re on the same track. “People are often fascinated by the way we collaborate on our art pieces,” adds Joy, “but it’s a process that feels entirely natural to us.”

Papercut artwork by Mondocherry
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

Inspired by the colours and textures of nature, particularly bird life, flowers and landscapes, every feather, petal and leaf is finely cut and painted by hand. “Even the feathers that are layered are perfectly cut to the end,” explains Clare. “It’s really important to us that they’re complete, beautiful feathers – that they’re works of art in themselves.”

The paper is brushed with watercolour both before and after cutting, and touches of acrylic paint and metallic details are added, resulting in luscious, tactile pieces ready to be mounted.

Mondocherry's exquisite paper art
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

As Mondocherry has clients all over the world, the sisters post each other pieces to be assembled and framed by whichever one is closest to the buyer. They also opened a Mondocherry shop in Melbourne’s Malvern almost five years ago. “We wanted to be able to tell more of a story,” says Clare. “We needed a place to showcase our art alongside other beautiful and inspiring products.”

Mondocherry's paper artwork
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

Neither Clare nor Joy have any formal art training – Clare studied science/law and Joy considered a career in education before they embarked on their creative journey. “No business or art degrees,” says Clare with a laugh. “Our education initially took us on a completely different path! However, we grew up in a very creative home with amazing parents who fostered our artistic ideas and imagination. So it didn’t surprise us that we ended up here.”

(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

It was after making their own fabric artwork embellished with sequins and beads that the pair decided to pursue their work professionally. “Someone saw the almost-complete piece at Joy’s house and asked if they could buy it,” explains Clare. “They told a friend, who commissioned another, and from there it gathered momentum. We consider ourselves so fortunate to be able to do what we love.”

Mondocherry papercut artwork
(Credit: Martina Gemmola)

That same artwork also sparked the unique name for the business. “The first fabric we worked on was a cherry red print named ‘Mondo’,” remembers Clare. “So we used to refer to it as the mondocherry. After racking our brains for the perfect name for our new business, we just thought, ‘Why don’t we call it what we’ve been calling it all along?’”

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