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Collection Reflection: Maura Heslop

12 August 2020 10:00 am

Image credit: Maura Heslop, Fat Man 1987 Steel  

This artwork is a brooch made from steel, both designed and crafted by Maura Heslop. It shows the  figure of a gentleman with no clothes on. The surface design has been created by etching into a layer of acid-resistant ‘stop-out’ varnish then immersing the metal into an acid bath. The shape of the brooch has been cut out using hand tools and small blobs of silver have been soldered on. The steel used by Heslop in her work at this time was often cut-offs that she acquired as scrap. The final effect is a highly individual piece that resembles a simple drawing as well as being a wearable object. 

Maura Heslop is an artist from Devon who completed a four year jewellery degree at Middlesex Polytechnic before establishing a studio in London called The Metal Factory with four other jewellery artists. In a 1987 interview with Craft Magazine Heslop admits that she was initially much more interested in the design side of jewellery than the practical but came to value the technical education she received at Middlesex. The degree programme was structured so that third year students took their studies out of the educational, institutional complex. Heslop spent part of this time living with a Maasai tribe in Kenya, pursing a life-long interest in African art which has influenced her practice. 

This brooch is part of a series based on figures from Heslop’s early childhood drawings which may explain its naïve, happy style. It featured in the Craft Council’s New Spirit touring exhibition in the late 1908s. It is representative of the next generation of art jewellery following the radical New Jewellery Movement of the 1970s. Artists were making work for audiences more receptive to new ideas and were also free to do things differently from the previous generation, as seen in this highly personal work. 


Words: AJ Garrett 

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