As I gain clarity on my project direction, firstly it was very interesting explaining my work to a brand new audience, I surprised myself that it was so much easier than it was just a few weeks ago. The lovely Francesca Urciuoli offered some exciting new perspectives; Could I play with mixing different historical stories on one piece of jewellery? Should I be making, rather than sourcing the sentimental jewellery? Could I explore cold connections, pivoting hinges and not just magnets?
The last question made me think of dance cards – Prevalent in the 19th century, dance cards were decorative little books, usually worn around the wrist or hand and often in silver, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl and with ivory pages. Dances, music and most importantly your dance partner was listed in the book. This was particularly thought-provoking for me in relation to how my piece could be worn, owned or have an ongoing connection to the body, whilst also documenting a little piece of social history.
The discussion turned to how stories, like Chinese whispers can change and develop over the passage of time, how much truth do we really see in the present version of events. In contrast Matt Gale, made me stop and think about the possibility of really playing with this idea sentimentality and nostalgia – To consider building symbolic tenuous links between the pieces. Unlike some of my earlier group crits, I really gained assurance that I am starting to embed and layer my ideas into my making and that my logic and beliefs through my designs are beginning to be understood.
I have also been interested to talk to friends and family outside of the SOJ – Sometimes the most obvious questions are completely overlooked. In seeking out these conversations, I have been overwhelmed by the response and eagerness of my friends and family, to share their own stories of sentimentality embedded in their own jewellery. From engagement rings being sent through the post from Africa in the early 20th century, to tales of elopement. All of a sudden, I feel like I have a lot of material to work with and I am considering how I can best document these discussions for future use in my work.
It’s been a busy week, but I made time over the weekend to also head down to London to view the Dazzle exhibition at the gallery@oxo. It was great to see my friend and fellow SOJ graduate Stephanie Holt’s work being featured on the marketing materials, but also seeing her shine through against established jewellers. I also took a trip down memory lane at Cockpit Arts, Christmas Open Studios. Back in 2003 as an undergraduate student I did a six-month placement with Sara Hartley, based at the Cockpit Studios. Sara taught me valuable skills, not only at the bench but also in how to run a business. It was wonderful to see her continued progress and success.
Both events were a gentle reminder of the reoccurring question – What platform do I want my MA to be? The Cockpit Arts studios in particular were so interesting, it’s so valuable to see artists in situ, in their workshop, interacting with other artists, bouncing ideas off each other, and witnessing whose work was a clear extension of themselves, their personality and style.
It really brings home how important our group crits are and of course working from within a creative hub like the SOJ. It’s clear that seeking out new discussions, ongoing peer feedback and a fresh pair of eyes on my work will be invaluable if my work is to really develop.