I hope this reads ok, I've been adding to it in spurts for 2 weeks but I can't read it or I'll not post it, it's too scary putting this stuff out there! Advance apologies for pic quality, they digital pics taken of old photo's with reflections etc spoiling the colour and focus, but I know some of you wanted to see them anyway. Most of the images are of test pieces, so they are very rough in nature, the germs of ideas that later evolved into pieces which I sold or swapped. But I've tended to hold on to test pieces.
pod brooch test piece 1991
• paper, silver, burnt to create contrast
• the 2 pronged full length pin is made from a single piece
of wire which, when unclipped, opens out to act as a
stand when the piece is not being worn.
• inspired by- seeds, whale sharks, cocoons,insects
• size- approx 3 inches long
Many of you have asked about my own creative work so I'm delving into my past a little. My jewellery past. I'm a printed textiles girl at heart but left when they TOLD me what colours I would be using for my final work and said I had to do fashion textiles as there was no interest in interior textiles!
Like my home (when it's not a construction/demolition zone), my work is ever changing, which presents problems at college where they are trying to shape you into someone with a specific style.
pod sculpture 1993
• reclaimed copper
• coloured with heat and salt water and burnt soil
• displayed in beachcombed netting with lighting woven in
• inspired by- seeds, wombs, shells, sea creatures
• size- approx 11 inches long
My early jewellery tutor just couldn't understand where I was coming from. For my one assessment, I displayed my copper pods half buried in a crate of soil into which I'd sewn grass seed and she I make plant pots when I left college! She didn't get it at all and wanted me to just do as I was told and make shiny silver earrings!
Well, that sort of talk does not sit well with me. I firmly believed that I had not gone to Art College to do what someone else wanted me to do and I must confess we had a few battles over my work at each assessment. I did not get brilliant marks from her. And I never made a pair of shiny silver earrings.
my desk 1992
• studying various pod forms from seeds, sea creatures,
shells, neolithic tools/forms, whale shapes, squids,
bird bills...the list is long
• below the sketches are half and whole test pods in silk,
wool, wood, paper, plaster and clay.
One tutor in the last my final years grapsed the evolving nature of my work and really stuck up for me during my degree assessment, she explained to the outside assessors that by it's very nature my pieces are never finished, as long as they are in my possesion they will continue to change and take on new layers of meaning. It was nice that someone 'got it'.
My Department head was great about letting me do stuff (and very supportive when I had M.E. and by rights should have given up college). He didn't understand why I wanted to make sculptural jewellery out of burnt paper, driftwood, ceramics etc. and correctly guessed that some of it was just me rebelling against what the other tutor wanted me to do. But that was only a very small part of it.
It's not in my nature to follow the well trodden path, I thrive on trying things that are new, on mixing disciplines, materials, techniques and scales, sometimes making small or tiny things...
3D collage 1993 (detail from corner)
• background made using various printing techniques and handwriting
• small book made from waxed tisue and handmade paper
• the ammonite, wood and test tube were found objects
• the small fish, 2cm long, the test tube is carved from
tagua nut, which is like ivory but eco friendly
• fish box (you saw the test piece in a recent post) is porcelain
with silver detail, shown unfinished. a silver hinge pin had to
be added so the lid would swivel from the tail plus braided
cord & toggle that would wrap around the groove in the belly of the
fish & through the silver pod loop on top to hold in place.
Sometimes making large things...
copper pods 1992-'93
• made from reclaimed copper (old hot water tank)
• a few have fused silver details made using filings from
other makers (hate to see any waste from mined metals)
• the largest is about 3 feet long
• they have fused edges and are coloured with salt,
oxidisation or burnishing
• each has raised fish details inside the pod.
• the largest has a small fish with an arrow down the
length pointing to the moon
• some have etched writing in hidden places
I got really into the fused copper while studying in Canada (NSCAD). That college was brilliant, they really liked that I my growing environmental concerns were shaping the direction and techniques in my work and they were more than happy for me to display my work in a way that reflected what it was about. Here's a very unclear photo of an exhibition I had there in the Anna Leonowens Gallery...
Exchange Student Exhibition 1992
Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia
On the wall I were seed pod photo's (from my summer studying at the herbarium at Edinburgh Botanic Gardens) with writing underneath. Ha, at home they'd never have let me write on a gallery wall. Then the bowls (I'll show them in another post), pods and artefacts were placed on or inside maple leaf covered clear acrylic boxes.
At home I would have lit them from inside but my lighting things were at home in Scotland. Still, I was pretty happy with the results. My first exhibition in a 'real' gallery. And I LOVED the process of putting it together, though I've never been allowed to work that way in a UK gallery, which is such a shame.
It was also a way of showing the tutors back home that my work needed to be seen as an installation to make sense, not as a few bits squeezed onto a desk for an assessment. To be fair, that format had always worked fine as nearly everyone who ever took that course made jewellery or smallish items, but for sculptural narrative work it was really inappropriate and made it all look, well-crap
My life would be a lot simpler if I just had a single interest and perfected the techniques involved in it. But I feel (creatively) claustrophic if can't bounce around in a huge mix of things, going with what inspires me in the moment, yet not losing the seed of the original influences.
Ok, I've just chopped out 80% of this post, it was HUGE. I'll show other bits in separate posts. And just to clarify, the big copper pods are not the sort of thing I'll be making in the future, though paper and clay ones may still happen, who can tell.