The London-based Norwegian artist Magnhild Kennedy a.k.a. Damselfrau is a self-taught maker of masks, who never stops surprising her audiences with new innovative shapes and collections on her main canvas – the human face.
“Creating a mask is like creating a new character, a veil that allows you to become someone else,” she explains. “I am fond of ethnic textiles and comfy utilitarian clothes,” she adds.
Damsefrau is not wanting to define, although she doesn’t consider herself a jeweler, her work has a strong dialogue with the field. Her fascinating pieces have been featured everywhere from exhibitions to one of Beyonce’s music videos to magazines like Volt, Another Man, Vogue and LOVE.
She says she is extremely interested in the “outsider jeweler” quality of objects that speak to jewelry and adornment but was not necessarily originally intended to participate in this dialogue. Magnhild Kennedy’s work is unpretentious and led by a magpie-like eye for beauty. “For me the mask is a place where different elements come together as situation,” she says.
What we find interesting is Kennedy’s opportunistic disregard for boundaries and how material recycling is a key. Online she is happy to disseminate her work, but likes also to do “proper” exhibitions and to be featured in music videos.
Comparing her work to jewelry, Kennedy displays in fact an emergent trend in the field of contemporary form of art. She has a remarkable ability to stage herself at the center of reenactment or role-playing.
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Magnhild Kennedy is from Trondheim, Norway and moved to London in 2007 and has lived there since.
In 2011, a gallerist saw her pieces in a shop window and offered her a galley show. In 2013 she was selected to participate in the exhibition “Fetishism in Fashion” and in the coffee-table book by the same name, written by Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s foremost trend researcher.
The material is her initial inspiration. It always starts with a piece of stuff and she lets the material lead the process. She never draws or design anything, and stays away from any idea of form until it appears whilst she is making it.
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“The mask is a place,” she says. “I am led by the phantasms appearing in the process of the making and the materials themselves.”
She started her artwork New Year’s Eve in 2008, and suddenly her masks attracted the world’s attention as exclusive and sensual objects. And she has often been featured in international media since then.
Kennedy never studied anything relevant to the work she is now doing, except for a very sanguine unfinished year of arts in college. Both her parents were artists, so she is inspired by them, but learned through looking at clothes and crafts, watching You Tube tutorials and
trial and error. London has been an integral part of the mask making.
Damselfrau is a name she uses for her mask projects. She thinks the word is a mask in itself, since it says unmarried and married woman in the same word. Initially it was her Skype name before the masks emerged.
The Many Masks of Damselfrau From Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image on top, photographed by Aurora Kvamsdal