Alter Egos Exposed: The Art of Anthea Bush

Craft & Design

CRAFT: Crafting with Nature
The Art of Anthea Bush
By Eric Smillie

Crime, secret lives, staggering sums of money, and super heroes flying through the air — when it comes to influences, Anthea Bush thinks big.
And why not, when all these things are part of the English artist’s daily life? When financial scandal struck the firm where Bush, who lives in Holland, did part-time call center work, she began hand-embroidering collars with scenes revealing the unseemly side of the business world, from a mob murder hanging among cheery red songbirds to dogs hounding each other.
“The management that was arrested had always portrayed us at the lower end of the wage package as lazy and untrustworthy. Meanwhile, they were putting the money into their own bank accounts,” she scoffs. “They would dress up very straight and pristine when actually they were stealing more than most people would have.”
When she looks to humanity’s better side, Bush refits the helmets motorcyclists wear while performing superhuman feats. “When bikers cover themselves from head to toe, their alter egos blossom and they do amazing tricks and jumps,” she explains. “As long as they’re hidden, they become somebody completely different to what they are during the nine-to-five day job.”
To make one, Bush plucks ostrich, chicken, and quail feathers from secondhand hats, antique dusters, florists, and craft shops, then glues and sews them five at a time to strips of fabric that she fixes to a helmet piece by piece. Though not the easiest technique, it adds control and durability to her designs.
“The helmets are the opposite of suits and white collars, which disguise and suppress an alter ego,” she points out. Her embellished collars, on the other hand, would warn the world of the super villain they adorned. “I wouldn’t mind making one to be worn by somebody; that would be quite nice,” she muses. She should propose the idea to her former bosses.
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About the Author:
Eric Smillie is a freelance journalist covering art, travel, food, and culture for CRAFT, MAKE, Good, Signal to Noise, Via, Wired, and other publications.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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