Samantha Bryan Fairies Learn to Fly
A fleeting glance is the magic of a fairy, the way that a fairy can capture your attention in a split second and disappear as though it never existed is quite a skill. Ok, I jest, I joke and I poke fun but when an artist can really let their imagination run wild and build a world in their head that is inhabited by creatures of fantasy the resulting creative output is captivating.
Samantha Bryan has been creating her fairies for over 10 years but the characters appear older, more complete as though they have been around for centuries rather than months. There is a touch of the Borrowers about the style of the fairies but only in as much as scale presents challenges and brings out invention and innovation in the use of the mundane. Bryan’s fairies are happy, they inhabit a world that is much like today absorbing the best of the past (think midcentury verging on retro) and idealises the future with clever invention. You cannot fail to be wowed by the minute detail, the highly developed craftsmanship and humour in the staging of each of the fairies. However presented in a collection, Bryan’s fairies create a comic strip style display, I saw Samantha Bryan’s only English exhibition this Summer at Snug Gallery in Hebden Bridge.
A display of a fairy as it stands by itself is like a still from a fairyland sitcom you wish you were a part of. With feathers, leather, acorns, wire and brass, the mixed media construct of Samantha Bryan’s fairies is a homage to material appreciation. Escapism, idealism, optimism and humour are tangible in every piece. Now where is my ‘flight suit’ because I want some fairy wings!
I caught up with Samantha between fairies to ask a few questions:
- What inspires you?
I was originally very inspired by Victorian and Edwardian Gadgetry and Invention. More recently I find myself inspired by everyday life. Things that I see everyday…vehicles, mundane devices etc. I am also inspired by the things that I collect and keep on my various ‘treasure shelves’. Bits of treen ….on owl bowl can become a starting point for a piece (there’s the piece in the exhibition I don’t have a pic myself “Flight suits need not be frumpy”) Egg cups, cogs, plastic rings. I love to collect.
More recently I have started looking at vintage adverts, their simplicity and the language that they use. I am starting top develop prints and books to accompany my sculpture to explore the narrative that is present in my work. I enjoy thinking up a back story for every piece.
I work from West Yorkshire Print Workshop, A traditional printmaking facility with a gallery, membership and studio spaces. I share a studio and a workshop with artist and friend Helaina Sharpley The studio is a fab place with 3 large windows, the workshop is crammed full of tools…bandsaw, blow torches and a lot of dust. It is a 7 min walk from where I live..over the river and the canal…it’s grand.
- How is your work produced? ie the process, traditional or modern construction techinques?
Figures have a wire skeleton. Over which a hand stitched leather (mostly) flight suit is attached. Faces are paper clay. Figures also have organic matter like acorn and poppy seed hats, feather wings etc. Each one is a complete one off. Inventions are mainy brass wire and sheet. This is silver soldered (much as a jeweller would). Brass is chemically treated to age it. I love to use found objects…these often become the starting point for a piece.
- What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently trying to take a little time to learn to etch. There are 3 of my first etchings in the exhibition. I want to learn to print so that I can extend my 2D work.