Magnhild Kennedy AKA Damsel Frau finds great pleasure in solving technical problems. Her masks, an exploration of textures and patterns, were created first as fashion pieces – an experiment with costume making while she worked at a vintage shop.
“I never actually studied anything relevant to design or to mask making,” said the Norwegian-born London-based artist in an interview with Vogue. “But I did grow up with two parents who were fine artists. My dad also taught at a few different art academies around Norway,” she says. “I grew up around their artist friends. There was always art material lying around to make things with and I suppose it tuned my eye from an early age.”
Kennedy treats her masks as places where different elements come together as a situation. “The work is about this place-situation, more so than the mask as a theme or category of form. The mask is a place,” she writes on her website.
Made from the materials she finds, as well as things she produces herself, she has used anything from fine lace, carried by the nineteen-century Norwegian author Camilla Collett, hair from a two-hundred-year-old Japanese geisha hairpiece to everyday objects found in the street.
“The whole process starts with whatever material I’m interested in,” Kennedy explained. “I connect with materials on an emotional level. I don’t draw or sketch, but instead just sculpt and let the materials lead the way.” The finished products are a thing of beauty and mystique.
Take a closer look below.