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  • Writer's pictureRichard Miller

Looking a bit peaky

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

You can take the boy out of the Midlands, but it seems you can't take the Midlands out of the boy.

But to stretch the point, I've got to lean well across from my native East Midlands to make any claim on the Peaky Blinders' stomping ground of the Black Country.

But given the subject and setting of the story, as well as its superb cast, I was destined to be a Peaky Blinder's fan. And then you listen to the soundtrack and it's wall-to-wall Nick Cave, PJ Harvey and David Bowie, and it seems it was a TV series specifically designed for me!

So when it came to thinking about subjects to capture in the 'papercut' technique I was working on, it seemed that chief Blinder Tommy Shelby, played by ice cool Cillian Murphy would be a great place to start. And I think the result was pretty remarkable.

And I was not alone. He's been very popular and adorns several fellow Blinders fans' walls. And because the series features so many superbly drawn characters, customers wanted to keep their Tommy company and have commissioned other portraits in the same style to go alongside.

First came a request for an 'Alfie Solomons', the Camden Town-based Jewish gang leader, played by Tom Hardy. And this weekend has seen the completion of 'Aunt Polly', the Shelby family matriarch played by the marvellous Helen McCrory.

And the fact that these portraits are created by carving the cold steel of the scalpel blade into sheets of matt black card adds a subliminal reference from the artworks, back to the Peaky Blinders means of inflicting serious damage on their enemies by the razorblades hidden in their cap peaks.

There is no drawing involved in creating these portraits. Shapes are carefully hand cut using a scalpel from the top layer of card, which is then bonded to a second layer of coloured card beneath. Close-up, the images appear to be a random collection of abstract lines and shapes, but step back and the eye connects the positives and negatives to create a remarkably realistic representation of the subject.

Further examples can be seen at and some previous examples are available to buy at

Maybe you would like to commission something like this for yourself or as a gift. It doesn't have to be a Peaky Blinder, but I wonder if I'll end up adding to the PB clan. Please get in touch.

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