LONDON – Paper artist Zoe Bradley will be installing five exclusive artworks in the galleries of Sotheby’s New Bond Street from 14 January during the view for the Royal and Noble Descent sale of rare and beautiful works that once belonged to royal and aristocratic European families.
On Friday 15 January, Zoe’s works will be the centrepiece of a late night view with Sotheby’s specialist Jonquil O’Reilly hosting a talk on the history of fashion as told through Old Master Paintings, a DJ and a pay bar stocked with Ruinart Champagne. Free tickets can be booked here.
ZOE BRADLEY. PHOTOGRAPH BY MISA WATANABE.
What is the attraction of paper as a medium? What first drew you to work with it?
I was interested in finding a medium that can keep its form and was available in abundance. I love the challenge of working with new materials and discovering their potential. It was something I was keen to explore further after I had been introduced to working with ‘non conventional’ materials during my time at Alexander McQueen. My first ‘fashion’ piece I created in paper was a pleated dress for the label Michiko Koshino for her show during London Fashion Week. I knew after this experience that paper gave me the texture, form and immediate silhouette I was looking for.
A SKETCH FOR AN OLD MASTERS-INSPIRED SHOE CRAFTED BY BRADLEY AND THE FINAL PRODUCT.
Describe the experience of working with Alexander McQueen?
It was an incredible opportunity to work with a visionary such as McQueen. I worked on show no: 13, which I feel was when the company was at its height of experimenting with materials and ideas. The experience was challenging, and I found myself introduced to many inspiring visionaries who all wanted to work with McQueen.
Working with such a delicate and ephemeral material, what do you have to take into consideration when creating the designs?
As paper is a delicate material, we always start with the foundation and structure. Many of my large installation pieces have welded steel frame structures beneath them in order for the delicate textile to be added onto them.
BRADLEY'S SKETCH FOR A RED RUFFLE GOWN.
How do you make your works, and how long does it take you to create them?
I create all my paper works from my studio. I have an excellent team who works alongside me to help realise the finished spectacle. The length of time to create any one piece is usually four to six weeks. Factors such as scale and detail will always have an impact and make the job more complex. Mostly my commissions are bespoke, but I also produce multiples, which takes time as each piece is hand-sculpted and finished.
BRADLEY WORKING ON THE GOWN'S CORSET AND SKIRT.
How did this collaboration with Sotheby’s come about? And where did you seek inspiration for the work you have created?
Sotheby's contacted my studio as they were looking for a collaboration with an artist to highlight their Old Masters auction. They liked the idea of using the stark simplicity of paper to complement the artistry of the Masters. I met Sotheby’s Old Master specialist, Jonquil O’Reilly, who inspired me with stories behind the garments and the reasons for the various styles. I began looking into paintings and costume books and was also drawn to the ink drawings that documented the fashions of the time. The opulent wigs adorned with feathers, flowers, birds and powdered with wheat flour were fascinating. We worked on scoring techniques to recreate the fine silks used in the court dress and translate the luxurious nature of the fabric in paper. It was certainly a challenging brief, but it brought enormous satisfaction seeing the pieces come together.