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COUP de COEUR ! Caroline Broadhead

Caroline Broadhead studied jewelry in London with such distinguished artists as Wendy Ramshaw, Gijs Bakker, and Emmy van Leersum. A visit to East Africa in the late 1970s encouraged her to create jewelry that responded to the form of the body. By the mid 1980s, her constructions had become increasingly removed from jewelry as she concentrated on conceptual aspects of clothing and installation art. Since 1978, Broadhead has taught textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and other disciplines at Brighton Polytechnic, Middlesex University, and Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Education: 1969-72, Central School of Art and Design, London; 1968-69, Leicester School of Art, England – (Museum of Art & Design MAD)

« In the 70s and 80s, I was exploring ideas about jewellery, the way it could be handled, change on or off the body etc, ideas that were best expressed through materials of a certain colour, weight or flexibility. I made work out of coloured cotton threads and rope and my tufted bracelets used very fine nylon threads. And as my ideas were developing, I became more interested in the non-precious materials, ones that did not have a recent history in jewellery. By the mid 1980s I was making much larger scale pieces in woven nylon – veils, collars and sleeves. This scale was exciting as it allowed me to examine a spatial awareness around the body in a new way. For example, the Necklace/Veil was woven out of nylon line. It married something that you could wear round the neck with something you could also twist up to become a veil. It became a screen to look through to the wearer, or for the wearer to look back, as much as something to look at. These larger pieces that covered more of the body led me to clothing forms which gave me greater scope to express ideas about the whole person. These were not fashion but there didn’t seem to be a particular category for my pieces to be located, except art. »

COUP de COEUR ! Caroline Broadhead dans BOOKS / BIBLIO 1997_6_5_alt11997_6_5 dans Caroline BROADHEAD (UK)
1997_6_5_alt2 dans COUP DE COEUR
Armpiece 22 in 1 - Cotton, nylon, monofilament – fabricated, sewn – 4 3/4 x 112 in. (2,84 m long) -(Photo Credit: John Bigelow Taylor, 2008)

1997_6_4 dans fibres / thread
Neckpiece – 1978 – Silver, wood, dyed nylon monofilament
Caroline Broadhead brush neck piece – wood, nylon – circular wooden frame with nylon fibres in tufts like brush, pointing inwards where they touch in the centre
Caroline Broadhead arm piece; nylon monofilament arm piece woven into a deep cylinder with both ends of the single thread hanging free and terminated with a blue plastic cylinder
Caroline Broadhead neck piece; nylon monofilament neck piece woven into a shallow cylinder with both ends of the single thread hanging free and terminated with a green plastic cylinder
Necklace/Veil  woven out of nylon line

« How important is function in your work?
Jewellery made me consider the fit and use of objects on the body in a practical way, but the function of my pieces has been to give the viewer or wearer a particular experience, or to start a train of thought. When I started making garments in the 80s they were wearable – even if they didn’t look it. The function of wearability was not my aim, the important thing was that there was a possibility that they could be worn. They were a way of exploring and expressing ideas. Clothing as art was an area in its infancy in the 80s.
So if function is no longer relevant, what are you trying to do with your garments?
I used the garments, and subsequent work, to explore notions about a person. The first shirts I made gave form to the gestures a garment makes you do when you put it on. For example Wraparound Shirt makes you ‘put the other arm in’, you keep repeating that gesture to put it on. But I also wanted to create pieces that had a strong visual impact when they weren’t being worn. In my work with dance, gesture and movement are also important. I have created dresses that direct the dancer’s movements and set the scene for these movements.
Can you explain your attraction to textiles?
I started working with textiles before I realised that that was what I was doing. Most of my work is working with textiles, or about textiles. I like the fact we are surrounded by it in various forms, its feel, and what it does. I enjoy the sense of touch. It’s an amazing manufactured material which you then add your manufacturing process to – often you meet the material in this half-way position. It’s already had a human touch.«  (Interview by Diana Woolf – nov 2009 – « maker of the month » –

TNJ00879 dans Grande-Bretagne (UK)
Caroline Broadhead catalogue cover (open showing front and back) Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol November 1981

« This catalogue is of an exhibition of Caroline Broadhead’s, whose work at this time was inspired by having taken up embroidery in Kenya. Using the practice of wooden hoops for tensioning the material, she used laminated wood and the industrial nylon monofilament which she colour-dyed and utilised in this body of work. Work which was of a playful and colourful yet rigorous and controlled nature fashioned into bracelets, necklaces and brooches. These became canonical works in the repertoire of one of the five major presences in British New Jewellery : Caroline Broadhead, Pierre Degen, Susanna Heron, Julia Manheim, and David Watkins. »
Caroline Broadhead, Seven seams – skeleton of clothes - (winner of Jerwood Prize for Applied Arts- Textiles in 1997 )

In her early pieces she employed flexible nylon monofilament structures that could be collapsed to form a neckpiece, pulled up to form a ruff effect or even expanded to cover the face and head (e.g. neckpiece/veil, 1983; see Dormer and Turner, pl. 161). She also used multi-coloured woven flax for broad hooped necklaces and bracelets (e.g. tufted necklace, 1979; see Houston, pl. 12). The range of plain and coloured acrylic jewellery produced by C&N Buttons & Jewellery Production, a company she formed in London in 1978 with Nuala Jamison (b 1 Oct 1948), had a broader appeal. In her work Broadhead proposed new functions for materials and techniques, going beyond the idea of a unique item of value, to fuse clothing and decorative accessories in a complete and imaginative ensemble. In the 1980s she created a new mood with elusive body garments: Cocoon, Seam (both 1986) and Web (1989; all London, Crafts Council Gal.) are cotton and nylon fabrics that, once wrapped, form surreal patterns that play on an ambiguity between clothing and personality. Broadhead has been recognized as a leading innovator in the New Tradition tendency in Europe, a generation of designers who, over two decades into the 1980s, revised many of jewellery’s conventions.



0905634365.02._SCLZZZZZZZ_ dans techniques textiles

Bodyscape: Caroline Broadhead 
By: Pamela Johnson 
Art Books Intl Ltd – 2000 – 32pp


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