Maisie Broadhead graduated from Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork & Jewellery (now Jewellery & Metal) in 2009. She is an artist and image maker and lives in London.
She created a site-specific installation entitled Peepers for Brighton Pavilion in 2014, and her work was included in Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present at the National Gallery in 2013. She has held multiple solo shows at Sarah Myerscough Gallery and was awarded a commission of £7,500 for 2013’s Jerwood Makers Open, an award that recognises rising stars.
What originally drew you to the Royal College of Art?
When I was doing my BA at Brighton, lots of my friends were gravitating towards the Royal College of Art, but I didn’t feel like I was in a position to apply immediately. I didn’t have anything to say, and I didn’t have any interest in putting myself through the emotional journey that even doing a BA was. After a few years out, a couple of boring jobs and some travelling, I felt the need to work towards an exhibition. I got a studio in Hackney and started getting back into it, but I realised that, sitting in a studio by yourself you end up running into a brick wall. I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be set challenges and briefs – I needed that to get going again.
Was there a particularly significant moment you remember from your MA?
The real turning point for me came about in the summer between first and second year. I was invited to take part in an exhibition being organised by a visiting tutor. The exhibition was called Bottom Drawers, and was part of the 2008 London Design Festival. It was at Pitzhanger Manor, Sir John Soane’s country villa in Ealing. We were allowed to insert something into the house. For a long time, I’d been taking lots of pictures of my family, doing slightly silly things – so I removed a family portrait from the house and replaced it with my own restaged version. It was one of those projects that just really made sense for me, and put all the things I was thinking about into context.
Photography was a new medium for me, so I was excited about the freedom that came with that shift. When you know all about the history of your subject, sometimes you can be slightly choked by it and, I suppose, because I didn’t study photography – I looked at it, but I don’t think I ever critiqued it in the same way I had done with objects – I felt able to just have a go.
How did the experience impact on your second year at the RCA?
When I went back to college, I automatically returned to making jewellery. It wasn’t until the following January that I began to work more instinctively. I started mapping out my ideas and putting it all down on paper, it really started to make sense. Once I’d made that decision, there was definitely encouragement from tutors: you’ve found something, go for it, run with it. I think that’s what’s particularly good about the RCA: if they see you’re excited about something, if it’s going somewhere, there really are no limits.
What’s the best thing about the way you work today?
I feel very free. I feel like I’m leading my life in a way I never thought was possible. For the most part, I find what I do incredibly stimulating. Even though I’m not making very much money, I’ve somehow managed to navigate a position where my head is above water and I’m doing what I want to do. And I needed the RCA to get to that point, to have the confidence to stick with something and tell myself that I can do this.
"That’s what’s particularly good about the RCA: if they see you’re excited about something, if it’s going somewhere, there really are no limits."