Masks have been an obsession of mine since childhood. Initially I simply noted that a lot of my favourite films featured masks of some sort (and let’s face it, all the best villains have a mask or fancy helmet in their wardrobe).
I’d always be drawn to masquerades and performances, I’d wander towards the masks section of museums and galleries, and I eventually ended up studying anthropology and art history at university and delving into the cultural significance of masks across the world. Masks create a powerful effect: disguising the self, projecting a new self, instilling fear (just take a look at the horror movie industry!), and channelling the other– be it a character you’re playing on stage, the spirits of the ancestors, deities or demons.
It took a trip to Venice with friends for me to pluck up the courage to try making masks myself. They’d always seemed so magical and fully formed, it was hard to imagine how one could go about recreating them, but strolling through the open workshops of Venice and seeing the craftpeople at work ignited my determination to succeed.
I spent a year experimenting in my spare time before coming across the work of Prof. Agostino Dessi, a Florentine master mask-maker whose work stood out as true art, even above the masks I’d seen in Venice! Taking what I’d learned so far I travelled to Florence and spent a wonderful week with him, learning to make masks in the traditional way in his stunning mask shop.
And from there I haven’t stopped. I’ve been experimenting, trying new materials and techniques, and generally cluttering up my home with masks of all kinds.
When I’ve worked out how to package them, they will be available to buy at my Etsy Shop. You can read about my experiments on the blog, or follow me on Instagram @queenhare for up-to-date panics about where I left the gold leaf and how much I hate sanding.