I curate, make and advocate for feminist issues. Laura Bradshaw-Heap interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 18.07.2018
Laura Bradshaw-Heap Laura Bradshaw-Heap
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Laura Bradshaw-Heap. Necklace: Untitled, 2016.  Found necklaces, found earring studs (used), sugru.. 45 cm long and 20 cm wide. Made as part of the exhibition JUNK: rubbish to gold.. Laura Bradshaw-Heap
Necklace: Untitled, 2016
 Found necklaces, found earring studs (used), sugru.
45 cm long and 20 cm wide
Made as part of the exhibition JUNK: rubbish to gold.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

I curate as much as I make as much as I advocate for feminist issues. Each method is aimed at a slightly different audience and the message is adapted accordingly. I do not create work primarily to sell but use my making as a means to research and investigate different ideas. One consistent theme within my work and projects is to explore how an audience is engaged with and activated through a project.
Do you think that jewellery is being standardized? What is there of local and universal in your artistic work?
On the face of it one can say yes, that certain aesthetics and ways of thinking are spreading through art colleges and universities halfway across the world when it comes to the teaching of our discipline. It is no longer unusual to have students travel half way across the world to study in specific institutes and whose lessons they then bring home and reinterpret. It can certainly feel homogenised at times when walking through some of the citywide events and exhibitions around the world.

Yet to say that jewellery is becoming homogenised is an oversimplification – look at the variety of names we go under; author jewellery, art jewellery, research jewellery to name just a few. Look at how we ally ourselves and merge with different disciplines - design, craft, new technology, fashion or art. Some take a conceptual approach while others are performative. Some are community-based and others collaborative. This is a wealth of variety and variation.

If the jewellery you are seeing seems homogenized then I think this is less about the work that is being produced and more about your need to look beyond the usual places we usually go to consume jewellery.
My work is collaborative by nature. I work with people in a variety of ways and these different styles of collaborations feed into what I make. I rarely these days collaborate with people in my own locality, in fact, the three current projects I am working on involve working with people who are in different countries spread across the world. Personally, I find this way of working exciting and eye-opening. I enjoy having others to bounce ideas off and to help me to see different points of view, different ways of thinking and approaches to making.

What do you expect when exposing your work to the public (for example with an exhibition)?
I guess this really depends on the type of event it is. I curate as much as I make as much as I advocate for feminist issues. Each method is aimed at a slightly different audience and the message is adapted accordingly. I do not create work primarily to sell but use my making as a means to research and investigate different ideas.
One consistent theme within my work and projects is to explore how an audience is engaged with and activated through a project. Within JUNK: rubbish to gold we created a circular economy which activated the roles of all the suppliers, makers and customers who were part of the project to become active participants of the project. I have written about this for the Making Futures Journal with JUNK’s co-creators Prof. Jivan Astfalck and Rachel Darbourne. ( ). unperceived experience takes a very different approach to the audience. Here it explores the historic lack of visibility for female artists through playing on the idea of what is seen and unseen. Female artists are given solo exhibitions as part unperceived existence. These exhibitions are real, the artists post their work to my new gallery, gallery shush. The work is displayed – but there is a catch. The gallery has no audience. No one walks through the doors to see the carefully made and curated work. Instead, the work is presented in an online catalogue documenting the exhibition and the artist takes over the project’s Instagram feed during their exhibition. This project will run from August 2018 to January 2019 so come have a look (@unperceived_existence).

Are other areas besides the jewellery, present in your work?
I guess this question is about how I interweave other disciplines into my work? My training has been very cross-disciplinary, I have studied textile fine art, applied arts, jewellery and anthropology. This has meant that moving between mediums and methods of thinking when making has been very natural.
I have become increasingly political in my thinking following the birth of my child. This has been a response to the realisation that the world we are currently in is not a world I wish my child to grow up in. This for sure is filtering through to the jewellery I make and most definitely through the projects I have been developing. Both Mother Makers and unperceived existence are direct responses to this.

The last work, book, film, city that has moved me was...
Room by Emma Donoghue. This book (also a film which I haven’t seen yet) is told through the eyes of a 5-year-old boy who lives with his mother in a single room. As the novel unfurls it becomes apparent that he and his mother are being held captive in a small room underground and that he had been born there and had never known anything else.
It is a fantastic example of how our perception of the world around us is completely socially constructed – by our experiences, by what surrounds us, and those we interact with. It shows how the most extreme environments can be or become normal.
In the light of some very nasty, in some cases extreme rightwing politics that we seem to be seeing increasingly which are causing inhumane, xenophobic policies I think this book can act as a reminder to those who get caught within these restrictive, often unlivable situations that these realities they find themselves in are not permanent and are not absolute – anything can be changed.

A place, space, country whose creativity surprises me...
An impossible question to answer. Creativity comes in such a variety of forms and can be found everywhere.

Is there any designer, jeweller, artist, you appreciate a lot?
1. Barbara Hepworth. She became one of Britain’s leading sculptors while having four children - three of which were triplets. When women are still being regularly asked if they intend to have children and outright being advised not to have them for the ‘sake of their career’ I think she is a wonderful example that those gatekeepers need to focus less on a women’s reproductive capability and more on their artistic capability and support them to this end.
2. Grayson Perry for popularising contemporary art (and to some degree contemporary craft) in an accessible and humorous way.

What piece or work has given you the most satisfaction?
I have enjoyed each project I have worked in different ways and taken a lot from them all.
My work with This is Me which was a collaborative community-based project working with Irish Travellers was deeply rewarding. As a result of the project a number of the women involved decided to return to education and/or become employed.
I am very proud of my piece made for the Legnica Silver Festival which won an award under the theme Revolt. This piece had been inspired by the Arab rising we had been seeing develop over the news at the time.
I am particularly proud of Mother Makers and how we have connected with so many mothers who had felt alienated and alone in their making and to have had positive feedback from young students who have thanked us for showing them that they did not have to make a choice between children or a career, but that both were possible.

Do you read Jewellery Magazines? What is your source to get information?
Information about the discipline? Online sources by and large as I move house and country too often to merit a subscription to anything physical at this stage. I hope this will change soon especially with the recent launch of the new zine Craft Desert.
But by and large I do not get my research material from within the discipline, rather I am interested in the world outside our tiny discipline. I am interested in politics and feminist activism and how we relate with each other.

Do you discuss your work with other jewellery artists or any other person?
I work collaboratively 99% of the time. This means if my work itself is not directly influenced by those I am collaborating with the themes and research behind them certainly are.

What is your first thought when you hear the word Future?, What do you expect for?
I think the word future is unhelpful. It is something that never actually arrives and often prevents us from seeing and doing things now. There is so much we can do now. Rather than waiting for the right time, which may never come. There is so much happening now, that needs attention now.
Laura Bradshaw-Heap. Hand Piece: Protest, 2013. Silver, alloys, oil paint.. 1-3 cm. Laura Bradshaw-Heap
Hand Piece: Protest, 2013
Silver, alloys, oil paint.
1-3 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.