“To me, urban exploration can apply to your career, creative or business path, leading you into various unchartered territories that is unexpected yet satisfying. By taking the first step and putting yourself out there, it can lead to other avenues of exploration.”
Our Urban Explorer
Could you please introduce yourself to our guests?
I’m Jahday Ford, an artist specialised in hot glass and mould design. I am originally from Bermuda but moved to the UK when I was 16 years old and have been here since.
Did you always have a fascination with glassblowing?
My love for glassblowing really started in university, when I first tried my hand at it while I was attending Manchester College. I was instantly fascinated by this art because it reminded me of my childhood, being surrounded by all the colourful and vibrant glass work in Bermuda. Hence, I decided to specialise in hot glass and mould design at the Manchester School of Art.
When did you decide that you wanted to create a career out of your passion?
Having graduated with formal training in this specialised art, I knew the next step I needed to take was secure funding so I could continue creating my art whilst being able to take care of my daily expenditures. During this time, I applied for public funding across numerous foundations and organisations, which I was lucky enough to secure funding for the past two years. With this support, it allowed me to create larger bodies of work and experiment with a myriad of unique materials.
How do you think you fit into the term “Urban Explorer”?
To me, urban exploration can apply to your career, creative or business path, leading you into various unchartered territories that is unexpected yet satisfying. By taking the first step and putting yourself out there, it can lead to other avenues of exploration. For instance, when you travel to a new city, you may find yourself chatting with a local and through this unexpected encounter, it may lead you to a commercial area where you might go watch an independent film in the city centre or a theatre show. BY taking this path, it will lead you towards a different region.
Breathing New Life into the London Art Scene
Having grown up in Bermuda, how do you think your upbringing has influenced your art?
I would say that my cultural background has certainly influenced my art. Growing up in Bermuda, it is so unique and has a special climate. It is always brimming with colour, wildlife and rich character. These elements have really transformed the artwork I make. On one hand, I may work with 3D organic foams with very humbled colours. For another collection, I may showcase more vibrant colours to convey Bermuda’s flamboyant character. I also like to incorporate European and East Asian design techniques and compositions into my work.
Can you walk us through the creative process of bringing your art to life?
When it comes to creating a collection of artworks, there is always a period of idea theory that is quite separated from the everyday life of the project. As far as sketches go, I start off with a rendering of how I envision the piece to look like. Simultaneously, I will need to look at the budget to see what resources I may need to bring this idea to life. Once these factors have been considered, I will start the brewing process where I get to truly be in my own element. I can add different details and aesthetics to the piece that develop during the process. There is a very unique relationship between myself and my art during the creative process, in which I constantly speak to the material to see what works and what doesn’t. The piece can continuously change and evolve. Once it is in its full form, I can assess and refine it accordingly. In its final stage, I polish the work to give it stability and structure before it gets packaged and delivered to the exhibition or to the client I am creating the piece for.
How would you like to inspire people through your art?
I would like the audience to ask questions, to rethink glass as a material and push the boundaries with the techniques and processes I use to mould glass. As you may know, glass behaves differently with every element or exterior surface it comes into contact with. By using elements like wood and metal, and through digital processes, I am able to formulate new and innovative methods of glassmaking within my practice. I hope that when people view my art, they will see past the object in front of them and analyse the meticulous processes of creating this piece – from its intricate details to its unique form.
On top of glassblowing, you are also a talented DJ. In your opinion, do you think there are similarities in the creative process of producing music compared to producing your art?
Yes, I think there is definitely a middle ground. In both my music and my art, I do what is natural to me and so I love taking influences from all walks of life and fusing them together like a puzzle. My music comes from an abundance of various styles, from jazzy vibes to Afro Caribbean influence rhythms. With glassblowing, I like to incorporate a variety of techniques and methods to create a piece that is contemporary. To me, it is all very connected.
How often do you travel?
I travel quite frequently because working in the creative industry, I get invited to speak at various functions and I also attend workshops across different cities. I was just in London several weeks ago to drop off some of my work. Through my job, I always get to see new things and meet new people which inspires me a lot.
What other destinations are on your bucket list?
I would like to visit New Orleans for its amazing culture and music. Ghana would be another place I would love to visit because it has a vibrant music and arts community there. I am massively inspired by the design culture of Japan – its simplicity and minimalism inspired a lot of my work in university. Hence, I would love to visit this destination as well to attend some of the art exhibitions or meet other designs and musicians.
In 3 words, how would you describe London?
Fast-paced, Multicultural, Abundant