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Visual Communication (MA)

Olivia England

Olivia England is a London- based multidisciplinary artist. Before joining the Royal College of Art she completed her BA in Fine Art at Manchester School of Art. 

Her object-based practice investigates the materiality and poetics of sentimental, tender and memorable belongings. Through the use of reconstituted imagery, text and the ready-made she hints at memories of the private and domestic and the lived history of objects. 

Selected works have been exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery, Grosvenor Gallery and The Hockney Gallery.

found decking board inlaid with mirrored text, found scrap metal and print on a plinth of found bricks

The use of craft is a pivotal component to the stories being told. Not only have images been sourced from collected family objects, but now they perform as a glimpse of the cherished. Ready-made patterns of knitted and embroidered works by my Grandma have been extracted and weaved into the final imagery used for my sculptural installation. These floral designs can be found on a cherished jumper, knit blanket or doily. In their reconfiguration, we can consider how such objects can immortalise the everyday. 

In my practice I explore the use of wood and metalwork. As male-dominated materials and craft practices, they have often served as functional and ‘meaningful’ trades within society. In contrast, women’s craft has historically been noted as a form of private making, to be tucked away, created and kept within the home. However, here – through the use of sculpture – these two worlds of making can now collide, staging the dualities between both worlds. Fractured snapshots of quiet recollections, an observation on the tender items women keep and make. 

The use of ‘hard’ materials presents tender sentiments of the hyper feminine, exploring the gender bias still prevailing in today’s creative industries. But now, laid before us, negatively - charged ideas of the private and domestic weave themselves into the arts conversation; these questions, ponderings, cherished and loved memories are now offered on a pedestal, a shrine for the unworthy.

steel curved tall frame with small wooden doors housing floral steel design, hanging below is a floral brass pendant
Oak, mild steel, brass, stainless steel, found stickers 145 x 35 x 7cm
detail of small wooden doors housing floral steel design
back of sculpture, showing 'Holy' sticker in the bottom right of the frame
detail of hanging floral brass pendant
detail of inlaid oak geometric floral cross-stitch pattern onto yew wood pendant
inlaid oak geometric floral cross-stitch pattern onto yew wood pendant
Yew, Oak 29 x 37 x 6cm

Shrine for the Unworthy utilises the ready-made, an old sewing table, to produce a shutter housing laser cut stainless steel and brass images which were originally sourced from my Grandma’s hand-stitched doily collection. A mild steel pedestal has been produced, adored with a brass pendant that drapes across the frame. Using a family heirloom jacket as a pattern source I have reproduced the design as a pendant assembled from recycled Yew wood and inlaid with found decking board from my family garden. Steel has been used to create a geometric floral shadow, and bricks from my grandparents’ home have been deployed as structures to uphold the works.