Heather McDermott

Heather McDermott is exhibiting with us in the Barbican this winter as part of our program of support to new designers. Here, DJG member An Alleweireldt of Oxx jewellery London interviews Heather.

 Heather Mc Dermott

A.A. We saw you at One Year On in New Designers, have you had a busy year since graduating from Edinburgh College. Did you do any exciting projects?

H.M.D. I actually graduated in 2011, so I had had just over a year out of college when I did One Year On. It has been a great year for learning and developing my work. Taking part in Hothouse with the Crafts Council at the start of the year was an intense but amazing experience and has really helped me focus my ideas and plans for the future. I took part in my first residency in October in the Scottish Sculpture Workshop, which has sparked big new ideas for next year. Preparing work for exhibitions for Lesley Craze, Dazzle and the Designer Jewellers Group has also been a great experience in what jewellery works best where.

A.A. Your new collection features some very interesting contradictions of regular shapes and very individual and unique colour elements. What’s your inspiration and why did you choose the materials you are using?

H.M.D. My inspiration is my island home the Isle of Skye. Growing up there I didn’t appreciate the rugged beauty that I was surrounded by so moving back last year has really helped spark new ways at looking at my environment. The ever-changing shoreline below our house has been a particular place of interest. Flotsam and jetsam are constantly washed ashore in different states of decay and this is where I pick out my unique colours and weathered finishes. I use stainless steel to add a contemporary feel to the pieces and the shapes mimic fishing nets, creels and buoys found washed ashore.

A.A. I see from your website that you also make a lot of beautiful drawings of Skye, do they feed as your jewellery inspiration as well?

H.M.D. Yes these do. I always found at college that research drawing played a huge part in my design process and I wanted to carry this through into my practice. Over the next few years I hope to develop these drawing further alongside the jewellery and hopefully on a larger scale.

Heather McDermott drawing

A.A. How is it to be a jewellery designer on Skye, is there a big artistic community?

H.M.D. Yes there is. My dad is a watercolourist so we share a studio space that is open to the public throughout the year. There is a studio trail booklet for Skye that features ceramicists, painters, weavers, jewellers etc. and where to go to see their work. I am hoping to do more local events next year and hopefully organise a group show or pop-up shop.

Heather McDermott

A.A. It sounds like you are incredibly busy with shows all over the country during this Christmas period. Have you got any exciting plans for next year?

H.M.D. I would really like to concentrate on my artwork next year and develop my colour ranges for my jewellery. There is lot happening in Scotland next year so I want to be as present there as possible. I would also like to do another residency so there are a lot of plans in pipe-line!

It is very exciting to see that two of our new designers this year – Heather Mc Dermott and Kelly Munro – both found elements of inspiration in the fishing villages they come from, yet created such amazingly different work! That is so incredibly inspiring, good luck to both of you!

DJG at Made London, The Design and Craft Fair- This coming week!


We are proud to say we are part of this fantastic show, held last year for the first time to great acclaim- a show who’s reputation grows, and promises to only get better. Made London showcases the very best and most original makers, exhibiting the highest quality in contemporary craft and design. It opens it’s doors again this coming week, from Thursday evening…

We will be showing together as a sub- group of twelve members in the beautiful venue that is the Sir John Soanes Church, downstairs in the very atmospheric Crypt.

Our group consists of: An Alleweireldt, Annie Ruthven-Taggart, Catherine Hills, Christina Hirst, Christine Kaltoft, Emma Farquaharson, Shelby Fitzpatrick, Harriet St Leger, Misun Won, Tom Mc Dowell, Ute Sanne, and Sarah Macrae.

Also showing independently of the group elsewhere in the building, are members, Jane Moore, Petra Bishai and Li-Chu Wu, and Associate member Henrietta Fernandez.

241 ticket offers are still available through the Made London website: www.madelondon.org


Pop Art Design

Designer Jewellers Group Member An Alleweireldt is already gearing up for new shows with a lot coming up! (as most of the group do at this time of year). Goldsmith’s Fair is around the corner, and she is also making new pieces for Pop Art Design an exhibition starting at The Barbican Art Gallery in October. This runs from October the 22nd to Feb 2014. An has made some special pieces, made from silver (with dots referring to the dots often seen in Pop Art), and vinyl records.

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Each piece with vinyl is unique, as the label will define it’s look.

Most people seldom play their vinyl anymore but find it difficult to part with. These pieces take invisible memories, which records carry, out of dusty record boxes and back into daily life again!

An has worked with vinyl before, making unique or commissioned pieces, combining with 18ct gold and diamonds, as well as production pieces. Her collection includes rings, pendants, earrings, cufflinks and bangles.

Arturo Borrego

Designer Jewellers Group member An Alleweireldt interviews guest new designer Arturo Borrego 

Arturo’s work immediately caught my attention at the New Designers exhibition because it was so well made and very intricate, but also has a very nice balance of colours and materials.

I’ve asked him a few questions about his background and inspiration.


Where are you originally form and what did you study?

I was born In northern Mexico.

After graduating with a BA in Industrial Design at the University of Monterrey, I specialized in rapid prototyping and model making of consumer products. A profession I have practised for 20 years in four different countries.

For the last 12 years I have being working for a worldwide renowned Industrial Design consultancy and have also been a guest lecturer at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology.

I am currently an artist-in-residence at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin


What are the different techniques involved in your work?

Throughout my professional career, I have constantly been challenged to create appealing objects out of raw material, whilst employing a wide and diverse set of tools, machinery and techniques; my skill set includes CNC machining, rapid prototyping and 3D modelling.

My eager and creative nature in conjunction with an awareness of the potential my skill and training has to offer, has led me to embarking on jewellery design and manufacture.

Because of my background, my approach to jewellery making has been unconventional. It marries traditional practice with my own acquired skills in Industrial design and product development in an effort to widen the possibilities for contemporary jewellery design conception and manufacture, in pursuit of a distinctive re-thinking of jewellery design which will kindle the imagination.


What is your inspiration for your brooches?

My father was a cavalry officer in the Mexican army. Through the lifestyle typical to a family where one member is a ranking officer in the military establishment, I was made aware from an early age of social insignia that denotes rank, affiliation and status within a society. However, as I grew I learned that medals and representation of rank and award is common across society not just in the military. Examples such as sporting medals, boy scouts and community commendation awards which note the bravery of individual community members in the service of their neighbours highlight that ranking is an important part of human experience and recognition. This practice is especially interesting when we acknowledge that it is present in all societies and cultures worldwide throughout human history.

Within the military, recognition of medals is so ingrained that a soldier or officer will unconsciously acknowledge the insignia, and therefore ranking, of a colleague they have never met, which will then indicate to them how they should behave and communicate with one another. As well as influencing behaviour and communication, insignia have the power to generate feelings such as pride and/or envy which can encourages people to both admire and compete with others – to strive to be a better person, a better athlete, a better soldier.

This social phenomenon inspires my current collection of brooches, where society’s hunger for recognition and distinction of individuals is represented in ornamental pieces of fashionable artistic accessories.


What future opportunities are coming up?

– Designer Crafts at the Mall exhibition 2013, society of designer craftsmen.

– Jacqueline’s Choice, exhibition and sale 2013. 16th and 17th of March 2013.

– Artist-in-residency at the National College of Art and Design, Ireland.

I am currently in the process of setting up a practice and reputation as a designer and manufacturer of studio Art, Fashion and bespoke Jewellery in Dublin, Ireland.

Have you won any prizes yet?

– First prize in the category of jewellery in the Royal Dublin Society National Craft competition 2012.

– Materials Grant, awarded by ‘’Future Makers 2012’’ organized by the craft council of Ireland.

A selection of Arturo’s jewellery will be on display in the Barbican in London until 1st January 2012.