It’s a common recurring question in life, and one that I still find a little tricky to answer in a straightforward way.
“So what do you do?”
“I’m a jeweller”
“Oh, what kind of jewellery do you make?”
“Mmmh, well it’s very illustrative…”
And it’s at this point that, these days, I usually reach for my phone to find my website or Instagram page because it’s generally easier to show people what I do than to describe it.
Illustrative jewellery, narrative jewellery, 3D illustration, wearable pictures, miniature scenes made in silver, these are my attempts to describe what it is I make.
Maybe I’m just a storyteller.
The ranges I have designed have hints and echoes of my own adventures, trekking in mountains, playing in streams, being out amongst the trees. They draw on folktales and the long traditions of sharing stories round a fire. I can take a poem or a piece of text as a starting point and in commissioned work have been honoured to create both celebratory pieces and memorial pieces for customers representing their loved ones and the places that they love.
It is the joy of illustrative work that people read the story in it and find resonance with experiences from their own lives. So really, there is no shortage of inspiration as there are endless stories to tell, but sometimes in the busyness of business it’s easy to forget that.
At the beginning of last year when we all found ourselves returning to lockdown in the depths of winter, nearly a year into the unfolding narrative of the pandemic, I had a moment of remembering that the illustrative nature of my work could allow me to tell the story of that present moment, to try and capture something of the new landscape. I wanted to created pieces that addressed the loss and isolation as well as the hopes and connectedness. Business as usual wasn’t really happening, I wasn’t rushing to make stock for the next show or shop order, so I had the time and space to give my attention to creating a collection as a response. Launched initially as part of an online digital craft festival under the title “Where we are…” I went on to exhibit this collection throughout the latter part of last year. The titles of the pieces help tell the story e.g. “Holding onto hope”, “Absence/requiem”. Some were accompanied by poems and I wrote a short explanation of the project. It served to carve a little space for reflection for those who wanted it into otherwise bustling craft fairs, and prompted some beautiful conversations, often acknowledging losses of loved ones.
Whilst it was created as a response to a specific moment and circumstance I’m hopeful that the pieces tell a more universal story.
It feels like now we are back to business as usual, with a full year of craft shows ahead and shops and galleries ordering work as well as a number of commissions to fulfil. The backdrop of the pandemic remains and whilst we ease out of one crisis, the conflict in Europe has risen up as a new crisis. I am so grateful to have had the time last year to mark the moment, and it has reminded me of the opportunity I have to create work that tells a bigger story.
I’m hoping I find ways to build in that possibility ongoingly in my work. For now an Alphabet commission, upcoming shows, a shop order here and there and a delightful 6 year old are keeping me pretty busy!