Martha Sturdy debuts new collection at IDSwest 2014, Sept. 25-28 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West

After a 20-year hiatus, local sculptor, furniture designer and artist Martha Sturdy revisits accessories with a new collection of “wearable sculpture” that is not to be confused with jewelry.

“If you wanted to wear this every day to the office for typing – forget it,” says the Emily Carr University alumna.

“I’m not talking about just nice little pieces – these are all big, very bold, and assertive, and strong, and funky, and they’re just on the edge of too big – but that’s what I’m trying to do. Something that is about sculpture on the body versus just stuff you can buy in the department store.”

The extremely limited collection of around 11 styles debuted at the IDSwest opening night party Thursday, featuring handmade brass and resin pieces ranging from larger-scale coil-like rings and bracelets to weighty slabs and cuffs. Part of her Reflections series, some of the pieces reference round hay bales from her Pemberton farm, a theme seen throughout Sturdy’s art and design work.

“About four years ago I started making wearable sculpture for myself – I’m always making things, on any scale, whatever it is – and I’d wear them places and people would always say, ‘Where’d you get that?’

“So it all started basically just making stuff for Martha,” says Sturdy.

Far from sporting a singular dainty bangle, Sturdy suggests wearing multiple heavy-duty pieces at once.

“I wear two rings on the same hand [and] I wear the wire bracelet, and the coil bracelet, and then a resin slab, and then a fat wire – so it’s a sculpture. You can put them together and then every time you wear it, it’s a different story.”

But are they as heavy as they look? “Of course!” says Sturdy. “These are statement pieces – they’re fun!”

“This is what makes me happy and interested in life, to not do practical,” explains Sturdy. “There’s lots of practical out there – and I’m not that person.”

Twenty-odd years ago when Sturdy graduated from Emily Carr she was noticed for her first collection of wearable sculpture, with pieces ending up in the likes of Vogue, Elle and Harper's Bazaar.

Always eager to move on to trying new things, Sturdy quickly dropped the wearable sculpture for other creative pursuits.

“It got boring,” she says. “And if you’re not learning new things? You. Are. Sad.”


New Martha Sturdy furniture at IDSwest

The artist’s latest furniture collection is also debuting this weekend at IDSwest – so new to Vancouver she doesn’t even have photographs of it yet.

The new pieces that Sturdy describes as “wood, wood, wood, wood, wood, wood and a little bit of leather” are also far from their traditional counterparts.

“These are not practical. They’re not like everybody should have one in their living room – they’re very different.”

And why does Sturdy strive for the beautifully impractical?

“That’s the adventure of life,” she says. “Am I an artist, or am I a manufacturer? The answer is: I’m an artist.”


Where to buy wearable sculpture by Martha Sturdy

Available starting Oct. 1, and ranging from $300 to $1,200, Sturdy’s collection can be found at her Vancouver studio, now open to the public five days a week at 12 W 5th Ave. For more info head to