Young Masters Exhibition Artists: Maisie Broadhead

Maisie Broadhead creates photographs that reinterpret historical paintings concerned with questions of ‘value’. Broadhead’s eye for detail and composition is conveyed through the elaborate set designs, lavish costume, and dramatic narrative. The viewer’s eye indulges in Broadhead’s re-presentation of rich, sumptuous scenes, often with a humorous contemporary touch. By using contemporary and historical elements, the images link the past with the present and plays with enduring social and aesthetic narratives.

Nipple Pinch references the painting “Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses soeurs” by an unknown artist painted around 1594 (today part of the collections in the Louvre, Paris). The presumed subject, Gabrielle d’Estrées was one of the French King Henry IV’s favourite mistresses. In the painting, Gabrielle holds a ring given to her by King Henry IV of France as a love token. The sister’s strange and intimate gesture has been interpreted as a symbol of Gabrielle d’Estrées’s pregnancy, as she was expecting her third child in 1594.

In the comic adaption Nipple Pinch, silversmith Max Warren holds a peculiar long ring placed at an angle that disguises its real shape and makes it look ‘normal’ to the camera lens, and therefore making the sapphire stone appear like a small insignificant detail compared to is real size. Broadhead is here playing with both the techniques of rendering reality (trompe l’oeil) as reality itself and the ideas of identity and value expressed in the original painting. By replacing the nude women with two men reenacting the scene, Broadhead also asks us to subvert our ideas of gender and the transfer of value through the gift, the ring.

After completing a BA Hons in 3D Design at the University of Brighton in 2002, Broadhead assisted the fashion jeweller Husam El Odeh, while continuing to produce her own work from her studio in East London. She created a mixture of both worn jewellery and conceptual pieces. Completing an MA in Jewellery at the Royal College of Art in 2009, the artist has also run various workshops at the V&A Museum, London as part of their Friday Late series. She has also taught at the Summer Academy of Fine Arts, Salzburg. Awarded a Thames & Hudson Prize and a Theo Fennell Award for the Royal College of Art final show, Broadhead has exhibited her work throughout England, as well as Holland, Australia, Italy and Switzerland.


Image Credits: Maisie Broadhead, Nipple Pinch, 2009, Digital C-Type Print, 95 x 127 cm, Edition 6 of 10.

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