The First Cut

The First CutAndreas Kocks, In the Beginning, detail, 2007

 Claire Brewster, The Harbingers 2, detail

The Judge 2010, Justine SmithRob Ryan, Map Of My Entire Life, detail


  • Friday 5 October 2012 - Sunday 27 January 2013
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • FREE

31 international artists who cut, sculpt and manipulate paper, transform this humble material into fantastical works of art for our stunning new exhibition.

Wonder at giant sculptures inspired by far away galaxies that spiral from the wall, explore a walk-through forest of paper trees and marvel at miniature worlds that explode from vintage staple boxes or emerge from the page of a book.

Flocks of birds and butterflies cut from maps appear alongside artworks that feature dark fairytale imagery. Guns and grenades fashioned from paper currency and sinister silhouettes comment on social, political and economic issues.

Gallery of Costume

At the Gallery of Costume fragile paper dresses and shoes, as well as sculptural dresses fashioned out of maps and money respond to the historical costume displays and grandeur of the Georgian setting.

You can also buy highly desirable limited edition work from our exhibition The First Cut: Editions, on the ground floor of Manchester Art Gallery or buy online here.

Special events

We are running an exciting programme of events and activities linked to the exhibition. Please see the Events tab for more information.  

Manchester Art Gallery Friends can enjoy an exclusive curator-led tour of the exhibition and see Rob Ryan in conversation on Friday 5 October, 1-3pm. More details of this Friends-only event and how to join the Friends are available here.

Tour venues

Djanogly Art Gallery, Nottingham
20 April - 9 June 2013

Southampton SeaCity Museum
11 October 2013 - 12 January 2014


In The Beginning, (detail) 2007, Andreas Kocks
The Harbingers 2, (detail) Claire Brewster
The Judge 2010, Justine Smith
A Map Of My Entire Life, (detail) Rob Ryan

Wheelchair icon

Andy Singleton's Ice Structure 2012

Andy Singleton, Ice Structure 2012, detail
Andy Singleton's Ice Structure is a 3.5m high piece made from hand cut, scored and folded paper, on display in our atrium over Christmas and the new year.

The First Cut Editions

Rob Ryan, Map Of My Entire Life, detail
Buy highly desirable limited edition work from our exhibition The First Cut: Editions online.