Described as ‘incredibly creative’ by her art teacher, Baljyot Kaur won a national competition which saw her meet her artistic idol
For many teenage girls, meeting their idol would involve a singer or television personality. Not so for Baljyot Kaur, a Year 13 pupil at King Edward VI High School for Girls. She scooped the prize to meet textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood after winning a national art competition to produce a piece inspired by the artist. Many would argue that the result came as no surprise, following Kaur’s interest in art from a young age.
“Art is an activity I’ve always chosen to do in my spare time. Back when I was in reception class, around age four or five, my teacher gave me my own ‘art gallery’; a wall where I could put all my work as I was always creating.” Bournville-born Kaur moved to Selly Park when she was 10 and has seen her artistic streak flourish in recent years. Her work often varies in style and inspiration can come from all manner of places. “The inspirations behind my work have always been different. I’d say it’s more about the joy of creating. “I tend to produce a lot of cut outs, so I typically produce smaller pieces due to the intricacy of the designs. With cut outs, work tends to be intricate and time consuming. I’m influenced by textile artists such as Michael Brennand-Wood and installation artists like Cara Walker. I like the hidden themes in her work. That inspires me.”
Although known at school for her artistic talent, it was a national competition which has seen Kaur’s name become recognised nationally. The 2012 Education Art Prize, run by Specialist Crafts, invited pupils 18 years and under to create a piece inspired by Michael Brennand-Wood. When Kaur heard about the competition, she knew she had to apply. “The leaflet was among the many flyers we receive at school and the art aspect caught my eye. I took various elements of his work, but also kept my own style. I think that’s what separated me from the other finalists. They had equally strong work but I think they’d tried to replicate his style too closely.” From hundreds of entries, Baljyot was selected as one of the ten finalists and invited to attend Brennand-Wood’s exhibition ‘Forever Changes’, before taking part in a workshop with the man himself. It was during the workshop that Brennand-Wood announced his winner.
“What excited me most was not just winning the award, but being given the opportunity to spend a whole day being inspired by such a high profile and successful artist. It was absolutely inspiring to work with him; he has an incredible work ethic. I don’t think he’s gone a day without creating and working. Just the way he makes things is awe inspiring.” Baljyot’s winning piece combined concepts of geometry, lace and embroidery with hidden emblems from military influences. After being declared the winner, Kaur received some of Brennand-Wood’s own artwork, handmade textile flowers.
After achieving her dream and meeting her idol, Baljyot is more committed than ever to building her own career. However, she’s still not entirely sure what that is. “I’d like to see myself in a design career. I’m not quite sure in what capacity though, maybe an architect or a graphic designer. I want to make use of the web and maybe even get into animation. It would also be great to produce work in the entertainment industry.”