MAstars 2013: Bridget Harvey, MA Designer Maker

MAstars 2013: Bridget Harvey, MA Designer Maker Bridget Harvey, Momotaro Series, 2013. Various materials and dimensions. Credit: Bridget Harvey

Louise Taylor selects Bridget Harvey from Camberwell College of Arts for MAstars

Bridget Harvey’s group of large neckpieces reminded me of the magnificent ruffs worn by Queen Elizabeth I as well as the parures of Elizabeth Taylor. Size, grandeur and impact were achieved by Harvey without precious materials but with skill, ingenuity and playfulness, and made her my star pick of the show. For example, 'Momotaro necklace' (2013) is a stunning, pure white object, constructed of recycled wood from a chair, milk bottles and hand made silk tassels. Giving a new meaning to ‘occasion wear’, Harvey explores themes of carnival, folk art and tribal display with a touch of Blackpool thrown in.

Bridget Harvey Momotaro necklace

Bridget Harvey, Momotaro necklace:  wood, plastic, silk, nylon, 2013. Reclaimed wood from broken chair; upcycled plastic milk bottles; silk thread and nylon cord. Approx 70cm circumference. Credit: Bridget Harvey

Another layer of narrative was added to Harvey’s installation by the suspension of the necklaces against a large-scale black and white wall drawing, illustrating the Japanese folk story Little Peachling or Momotaro, which was the inspiration for Harvey’s collection. The story is about a boy discovered in the centre of a giant peach and raised by an elderly couple; grown up, he defeats the Oni (demons) and returns stolen riches to the people of his village.

Using play as a design method, Harvey is fond of setting herself constraints to force her creativity. This is the first time she has worked with a given narrative. Breaking the story down into characters and landscapes, she created a dice game from which to decide the materials, shapes and joining methods. Four rolls of the dice for each piece determined which character, setting, material and method would be used. 'Monkey necklace' (2013), for instance, is made of around 1900 chopsticks, hand cut, dyed, sanded and waxed, connected with reclaimed cotton yarn and fastened with hand-braided cord.

Bridget Harvey Monkey necklace

Bridget Harvey, Monkey necklace: wood, cotton, 2013. Approx 1800 chopsticks, hand cut, dyed, drilled, polished and threaded; hand braided cotton cord. Approx 80cm circumference, Credit: Bridget Harvey

Harvey has an impressive kitbag of skills gained through her creative childhood, her professional training as well as her parallel career in prop-making and window-dressing and as an embroiderer with the Tracey Emin Studio. A founding member of creo collective, she researches, writes and recently co-curated an exhibition, Material Times. She also facilitates making and mending workshops. This active critical engagement with a wide audience is essential to the career of a contemporary applied artist.

Bridget Harvey is multi-talented, imaginative and articulate. Her future will undoubtedly be international. Her next step is a funded PhD at Chelsea, where she will continue her academic investigation into reuse, play and slowness. I feel her work is full of promise.

MA Designer Maker at Camberwell draws students from diverse backgrounds and had produced a final exhibition of overall good quality, very well presented. I would like to give a special mention to Shuang Wu who showed me each of the students’ work and whose crystal glasses with icicle stems made a stunning runner-up star of the show.

Selected by Louise Taylor
Published November, 2013

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About Louise Taylor

Former Director of the Crafts Council, Louise is now a freelance consultant, curator and writer. She advises companies, museums and galleries on strategies for acquisitions, exhibitions, retail and public art.

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