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Artist and Craftsperson

Newcastle upon Tyne

Bethany Stead

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I am an artist, sculptor and ceramicist based in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. My work explores materials and techniques associated with traditional craft and folk art, some of which have a long history of being laborious to manipulate, and assigned to humans of a particular class, gender and sex. Working between clay, wood, textile and paper, I am is deeply intrigued in using these materials to incite conversations about the societal barriers I, and others face, due to these classifications.

Drawing inspiration from surrealism, my sculptures and drawings become animistic characters residing within imagined and disturbing domestic spaces. Subtly sexualised and often playfully mischievous, the hand-sculpted vessels and objects dissect the uncomfortability and awkwardness of inhabiting a body, hinting towards aspects of folk dress and haute couture. Simultaneously symbolism, semiotics and folklore are themes which thread throughout my work, alluding to the influence of intergenerational storytelling and writing as a form of therapy.

An ongoing facet of my practice is social engagement and mutual aid, contributing towards opportunities, voices and space for underrepresented individuals. I have facilitated various community projects working alongside organisations such as Axisweb, AKT Charity, Curious Arts and The Thought Foundation.