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Bramble Lee Pryde is a multi-disciplinary artist that works under the moniker Le Lou Ula, a studio that is comprised of demi fine jewelry, home objects, her personal art practice, and most recently, toxin free, vegan nail enamels. Every single thing is designed and created in her studio. This iteration was conceived in 2012, after leaving her 10-year career in the fashion/beauty industry.

Interview

Can you please tell us a bit about your journey?

I started my post-secondary studies in Fine Arts at UBCO and after questioning the viability of a degree in Fine Arts, I switched to Design and Formation at Langara College in Vancouver and ended up spending an equal amount of time in design and art studios.

It wasn’t until I spent a couple of years traveling and experienced other countries that have longer lineage to their traditions, that encouraged me to look at adornment as a story that is told and kept sacred when it is passed down through the generations rather than the overconsumption or the disposability of trends. While living in Australia shortly after traveling, I completed a program in metalsmithing and jewelry at TAFE in Perth. When I returned to Canada, I ended up falling into makeup artistry and working with a company that allowed me to move through the levels of management and executive roles. During this time, it became clear that it was not where I ultimately wanted to be led.

While I am very thankful for the opportunity to have honed my business acumen, experiencing the juggernaut that is fast fashion left me feeling very uneasy. It did, however, help me understand what my overall ethos would be when I started my own path. I wanted my business to embody ethical choices, sustainability and the designs to have longevity.

What has working as an artist taught you?

Simply put, the most important thing I have learned is to shut out the static and to trust my own ideas and thoughts.

At the risk of sounding like a jaded Gen Xer, I find social media so loud, affecting and consuming, yet it’s also indispensable these days. It’s wild. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole of looking at others’ work, compare yourself, doubt your ideas and be left a bit paralyzed on how to move forward.

I think taking a step back and being mindful about my process, working through my ideas without the steady hum of others work, timelines and opinions is really key for me. I end up connecting to my work in a more meaningful way that hopefully translates for others.

Did you always see yourself working as a creative?

I think for me it was always there. I knew I thought about things a little differently than others growing up, and my interests were always art-centric. I’ve had the privilege of growing up surrounded by family and teachers that were musicians, artists and creative thinkers, so having the space to explore new mediums and study art from a young age, absolutely guided me to this minute.

There is something very nurturing about growing up surrounded by art and artists that allows you to discover, learn lessons and build a resilience that I think is quintessential to being an artist.

Facade earrings in gold - Le Lou Ula by Merrymen
In the studio with Le Lou Ula - Merrymen Vol.2
Le Lou Ula interview - Merryman Vol. 2

Your most recent collection ‘OBLIQUE’ is stunning. What does Oblique mean to you?

It’s interesting, because Oblique is being touted as the best collection to date, yet it manifested at a really tragic time for me. It’s the project I worked on while I was processing intense feelings of grief and loss. So in a way, I had to rely on my intuition while nurturing my personal life. I try to keep my personal life as private as I can; however, this experience has dramatically changed my ideas of how compartmentalizing my personal experiences may distract from my creative process. It’s visceral and layered, and the two concepts of personal and work intertwine into one another when you’re an artist. The word Oblique kept surfacing because of the idea of not wanting to address what my experiences were in relation to creating the collection, but also addressing the design choices of how obscure and skewed pieces interacted with the human body.

What achievements were confirmation that you’re on the right path?

There have been some life altering moments, and each one at that time has been incredibly rewarding and humbling. Recently NJAL (Not Just A Label) chose us as one of their Black Sheep, a curated title that’s awarded to outstanding designers that have not only been identified as being especially innovative, pioneering, and striking, but also forward-thinking, sustainable and ethical in their approach. When this happened, it felt like a moment that confirmed the idea that housing fine art and craft in the same space is possible.

Le Lou Ula iteration and interview by Merrymen

What do you consider in your creative process and where do you look for inspiration?

I think jewelry can be just as contextual as art and I find that art is largely about process. A collection starts just like any body of work, with a point of inspiration followed by research, studies/prototypes, and storytelling – it’s just a matter of choosing my method of creation.

Currently I’m drawn to multi-faceted artists that have a story to tell with their lifespan body of work. Artists like Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Alexander Calder and Joan Miró. Calder was a painter, sculptor and created over 2,000 pieces of jewelry. Miró, a painter, also created ceramics and Taeuber-Arp was successful at amalgamating applied and fine arts.

Can you expand a bit on the relationship between your work and expression?

As a private person, I did struggle with this until the revelation of how one really has to coexist with the other. The relationship itself isn’t as much of a struggle as it once was; and I think that authenticity shows in the work now. It’s a risk to live in these vulnerable moments, but ultimately, this has been what propels my work forward, moving through those uncomfortable moments.

What do you hope your products make people feel?

I hope that the feels hit on a few levels. I hope that they feel good about choosing work that has been produced and sourced sustainably and ethically, I hope that the pieces themselves make the wearer feel empowered, but to be honest, I hope that they also feel like they are wearing nothing at all.

I spend a lot of time working on the ergonomics of each piece and I consider the body and form when it comes to the scale, shape and balance of my work, as they are sculptural in nature.

It’s important to me that I workshop how a piece of jewelry moves with the body when it’s worn. How will that ring feel if you’re writing? What will happen to that earring when you turn your head? Because of this, my designs place negative space where it not only works as a design choice, but for ease of wear.

“All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story.” – James Baldwin

Bramble Lee Pryde iteration for Merrymen Magazine Vol. 2
Le Lou Ula for Merrymen Vol. 2 - Studio

Bramble Lee Pryde is a multi-disciplinary artist that works under the moniker Le Lou Ula, a studio that is comprised of demi fine jewelry, home objects, her personal art practice, and most recently, toxin free, vegan nail enamels. Every single thing is designed and created in her studio. This iteration was conceived in 2012, after leaving her 10-year career in the fashion/beauty industry.

Design | Vol.2

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