Caroline Broadhead: a Retrospective

The retrospective gathers together works spanning 40 years.

Lethaby Gallery View

Lethaby Gallery View


Caroline Broadhead trained as a jeweller though her practice since has encompassed many disciplines including sculpture, textiles, jewellery, installation,performance, photography.

Broadhead says of her work ‘...(it is) mainly driven by ideas but making and materials are an integral part of the process. You can’t make things without considering the craft of it’ (ND marsdenwoo.com) The ideas often span several works but at every turn the viewer is aware of the making and construction of each object. Broadhead’s practice is driven by ideas made concrete in a range of materials and scale. The scale is playful and the form may be distorted, items of clothing are stretched and elements elegantly multiplied in a manner which suggests small repeated gestures.

Wraparound Shirt  1983

Wraparound Shirt 1983

Many of the pieces in the show are designed to be worn on the body and at the same time offer much more. A nylon filament artefact in a display case suggests a bracelet - on the body it becomes a sleeve. Broadhead is concerned with edges of things and people. The Wobbly Dress questions how a body might fit into the dress and simultaneously the dress interrogates the space beyond it.

Wobbly Dress  !990

Wobbly Dress !990

Several pieces on display incorporate judicious use of shadows adding an element of theatre to the curation.

Shadow Dress  1995

Shadow Dress 1995

The edge of the chair is partially lined with white foam (draught excluder possibly?). When viewed from a distance, the broken white line appears to encase the whole chair. Its companion piece, on the other hand, has been sanded bare and has been completely de-surfaced. The flailing, though no trace of violence remains, suggests vulnerability.


Broadhead’s practice of carrying an idea through into several iterations is something I would like to pursue in my own work. This offers the opportunity to more fully explore an idea by investigating the possibilities offered by the developing work.