Museum at home: Cardboard Sculptures inspired by Julia Flanagan

If you love colour and pattern, you’ll be captivated by the playful works of artist Julia Flanagan, winner of the 2019  Georges River Sculpture prize. Her winning sculpture, Everything I own, is a teetering tower of colour and pattern, made from painted, patterned wooden shapes.

Everything I own, painted timber construction Julia Flanagan

Everything I own, Julia Flanagan

Take a closer look at the artist’s use of vibrant colours and repeating patterns and follow the steps below to create your own sculpture using painted cardboard shapes!



  • Thick cardboard (recycled packing boxes works best), cut in to geometric shapes approximately at least 5 cm wide.
  • Paint in a variety of bright colours (poster paint or student acrylic)
  • One wide paintbrush
  • One fine paintbrush
  • Black or coloured markers (optional)
  • Scissors


  • Using a wide paintbrush, paint the top side of each cardboard shape in solid colours, like white, yellow, green and red. This will be the background colour for your patterns. A white background will let your patterns ‘pop’ the most. Leave to dry.
  • Paint the other side of your cardboard shapes. You can make this the same or a different colour to the top side. Let dry.
  • Using a fine paintbrush, paint patterns on to your coloured shapes. Make sure you use a different colour to the background. You can also draw pattern with markers if desired, this will work best on a white background. Let dry.
  • Make two or three cuts in each cardboard shape. Make sure each cut is on a different side, and is about 1/4 –  1/2 as deep as the shape. It is important that the cuts do not touch each other, or you might accidentally cut out sections of your shape!
  • Assemble your sculpture by sliding the shapes together, joining them together where you have made your cuts. Experiment by swapping cardboard pieces and turning the sculpture in different directions and upside down. See how tall you can make your sculpture!
  • Once you’ve built one sculpture, take a photo. With the image of your first sculpture safely saved, you can take your sculpture apart and build it again, joining the pieces in different ways to make a completely new sculpture!

Screen Shot 2020-05-07 at 2.06.41 pm

You can discover more about Julia Flanagan’s work here.

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