(All images by Anna Bradfield, reproduced with permission)
For New York-based artist Anna Bradfield, discarded objects offer a unique opportunity to showcase the richness and diversity of detail through fine art painting. These stunning tapestries seek to not only reclaim the beauty of found objects and the personal stories behind them, but to recast them in ways that allow observers to engage with each one on any level they choose.
Anna’s art reveals a wonderful blend of traditional painted scenes, from city streets to children playing, and found objects that bring each one to life. Incorporating sea shells, torn pages from books and myriad other materials adds a new dimension, where someone’s unwanted items bestow a personal touch on each work.
Anna’s website states: “The purpose of my work is to reclaim the beauty of found objects and personal stories through fine art painting, giving back the opportunity for others to experience them afresh with joy. Each piece provokes one to reappraise the subjects and reclaimed materials that make them – as beautiful”.
Urban Ghosts had the pleasure of chatting to Anna Bradfield about her work. Check out the interview below, and be sure to click through to Anna’s website for further information, image portfolio and information about commissions.
Why is it so important to you to use found and reclaimed objects in your work?
My work is about getting people to look at things differently – to notice things they wouldn’t have otherwise. Using surfaces and objects that have been discarded, overlooked or thrown away and reinstating them as part of something beautiful is a very important aspect of this. Another reason is that the found and reclaimed objects make up the fabric of the stories the paintings tell. Whether the trinkets picked up on the sidewalk, or the child’s own drawing, or the cutting board turned canvas, they carry the weight and texture of sensation that representation alone cannot evoke.
Finally, for both me, as the artist, and for the viewer-participant, the ‘finding’ provides the element of discovery. Giving people the opportunity to make their own discoveries in the paintings lets them experience the joy of a different take for themselves.
From where do you typically draw inspiration for your projects?
Things that have inspired reappraisal for me. As a curious person this can be pretty much anything – life! New places I visit (I love traveling) are important because we are naturally in a state to experience things for the first time, to have our eyes open to see things differently. But it is really a state of mind. There is beauty in everything if you’re looking for it.
Where do you look for materials? Do you search for specific objects or is the process more random?
I set out looking for things and things appear. I have always picked stuff up off the street. People give me things when they see what I make. Obviously, for the homewares and canvases, New York has such a high turn over disposable culture that you hardly even have to be looking to trip over things! Generally, the fun of finding lies in the openness to look for. I try not to be too precious about what I think I will find, or too resolute about what I am looking for, so I am always pleasantly surprised and it is more fun!
How much does the broader NYC art scene play into your work?
One of my favorite things about New York is that no matter what you want to do you can find people doing it the way you want to. The size and diversity of the New York art scene, from pop-up shows to Park Avenue galleries, is really important to me because at this point in my career it fills me with hope that I can have my own niche in it. I have friends doing all sorts of art here and the support and cross-pollination of ideas and skills is great.
I have particularly enjoyed the community provided by being in events like the HOWL Festival and Webster Hall Art Soiree. I am also a great believer that… the globalization of art through digital media gives me a unique opportunity to reach people and communities who are my real audiences and connect with them in a far more personal way.