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2014/01/27: Arts Foundation Award for Julia Lohmann

On January 23, the Brighton based Arts Foundation handed out its 2014 awards. Among the winners: Julia Lohmann, Professor of Design at HFBK Hamburg (University of Fine Arts Hamburg, Germany).

The six winners were announced by Sir Ronald Harwood in London at the 20th Century Theatre in Westbourne Park. Isobel Harwood (Arts Journalism), Julia Lohmann (Materials Innovation), Rie Nakajima (Experimental Music), Andrew Cranston (Painting), Leah Capaldi (Sculpture) and Alice Birch (Playwriting) all received cheques for £10,000. The shortlist each received £1,000.

The Arts Foundation supports emerging talent in the Arts. Whether exploring new avenues or consolidating existing work this £10,000 fellowship has proved crucial in the success of many award winners.

The majority of Julia Lohmann’s work has involved the natural world and its processes. Moving from Germany to study Graphic Design in the UK her graduation piece was a book of artwork created primarily by maggots. Her experience working on a horse and sheep farm in Iceland acted as a catalyst for subsequent work while studying for an MA in Design Products. Exploring the transformation of livestock into materials and objects she produced lamps made from preserved sheep and cow stomachs and ‘Cowbenches’ which, by the careful reconstruction of the hide and form, attempted to link the animal and the object made from it.

For the past five years, Julia has been developing seaweed as a material for design and manufacture. The research is part of a practice-based collaborative PhD studentship at the RCA and the V&A museum where she has founded the ‘Department of Seaweed’ from where she collaborates with makers, scientists, anthropologists and the general public to transform seaweed into materials akin to leather, fabric, veneer, plastic or paper – depending on how it is processed. Results of this research were exhibited at the London Design Festival 2013 in a large scale installation made of Japanese Naga seaweed. Entitled ‘The Oki Naganode’ she treated the seaweed to remain flexible like a translucent leather.

Knowledge transfer is an important part of her work and she envisages allowing communities with local skills and knowledge access to the research while feeding back into the department their experience and skills gained while working with seaweed thereby expanding the knowledge base around the use of this fascinating material.