Morna Darling

Designer Jewellers Group member Jo McAllister interviews new designer Morna Darling.

Morna Darling Portrait

JM: What made you decide to become a jeweller and where did you train?

MD: I have always loved drawing and making things and with jewellery there is so many possibilities of materials, scale and concepts, this definitely attracted me to studying it. Being taken to Dazzle by my parents during the Edinburgh Festival was also a definite attraction as there was so much exciting work. I trained at Glasgow School of Art which I really enjoyed, especially my fourth year when I had free reign to really develop and explore my jewellery skills.

JM: Describe where you do most of your creative work.

MD: I do most of my creative work in my studio which I share with two other makers. I love working with materials and making samples and test pieces before I finalise my designs and sitting at my bench is where this happens. I also occasionally takeover my kitchen table with my sketchbooks, I love to draw and collage and it’s a great calm place to do it.

JM: What are you currently working on?

MD: I’m currently working on a few commissions for Christmas and continuing to develop my current collections.

JM: What are the key themes in your work?

MD: I like to make pieces with texture, pattern and colour. My work is inspired by fabrics and clothing. I am interested in representing the qualities of cloth such as layering, threading, folding and the patterns found within it. Pattern making is hugely important in my process and I am fascinated with the structural repeated elements of fabric and how to emulate these in my jewellery. Using different materials from my source allows playful exploration of how to create aspects of textiles whilst not actually including them in my work.

JM: What would you like people to notice about your work?

MD: I think I would like people to notice the different ways I combine precious and non precious materials and how they can work so well together.

Morna Darling

JM: What attracts you to the material(s) you work in?

MD: I work with silver, plastic and copper. I’m attracted to the plastic because of the soft, organic forms I can create with what is actually a hard material. It also means I have the opportunity to add colour to my pieces. I also patinate copper to turn it blue, joining this with silver is one of my favourite combinations.

Morna Darling: Wrapped

JM: What do you enjoy most – making or designing?

MD: I like nothing better than to play with different materials and to see what happens. I enjoy drawing and designing, but if I had to choose, I would say materials led processes.

JM: What is your favourite tool and why?

MD: My favourite tool is my rolling mill. I was very fortunate to receive the David Canter Memorial fund last year and I bought it with this. It’s a fantastic tool to impress unique patterns and textures on the metals I work with.

Half Layer, Morna Darling, silver and copper ring

JM: Who and / or what inspires you?

MD: I have always had an interest in textiles as well as jewellery so this is a big part of my inspiration in terms of my designs, however I’m constantly inspired by the many independent makers who create unique and different work and give me lots of determination to continue making and doing what I love.

JM: If you could collaborate with one artist, designer or maker, from any time, who would it be and why?

MD: One of the first jewellers I was aware of at school was American jeweller, Arline Fisch. She uses techniques such as knitting and crochet to create beautiful pieces made from colourful wire. She creates jewellery but also large installations, I’ve always been drawn to colour so to collaborate on an installation with her would be great fun.

Wrapped Necklace, Silver & plastic, 2015

Morna’s jewellery is on display and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop-up shop in the Barbican Centre, London, every day now until 23rd December 2015.

Mirka Janeckova

DJG member Petra Bishai interviews new designer Mirka Janeckova, who is exhibiting with us now at the Barbican Centre.

PB: Your work has an organic, freeform and sea-like quality. Where does your inspiration come from?

MJ: I wanted to create a unique style of work and I spent a lot of time considering how to achieve this. I decided rather than looking at objects that already existed to look at internal sources of inspiration.

I was drawn to Surrealism and their methodology. In particular they used techniques such as automatic drawing and collage to inspire their work. Through my research I created my own version of automatic drawing. 

PB: What is automatic drawing and how do yourself prepare for it?

MJ: I cut myself off from outside influences and draw what comes into my head. It’s like a stream of consciousness and actually quite a natural state for me.

Sometimes I have some random sketches or a photograph that I use as my starting point. I see shapes in my mind and translate them into drawings. For my materials I use dark papers with white watercolours and pencils. I know that my thoughts are not completely cut off from outside ideas but what I’m trying to do is to avoid any direct influences.

PB: When does your conscious mind come into your creative process?

MJ: When I move into my design process and look at technical issues. For instance the decision to use porcelain and silver was a deliberate one.

PB: How have your drawings changed since you started automatic drawing in 2013?

MJ: They have always been organic. People, just as you have done, often comment on the drawings being marine-like but for me the drawings are not related to this although all life comes from the sea.

Mirka Janeckova automatic drawing
Automatic drawing

PB: Coming from a land locked country, The Czech Republic, do you think you have an internal longing for the sea?

MJ: Yes for me there was always a magical notion of the sea and it was a symbol of freedom. I didn’t experience the sea until I was twenty. Maybe that’s why I have chosen to live on an island for the past eight years!

Mirka Janeckova jewellery
Mirka Janeckova collection in porcelain and silver

In order to explain her process Mirka brought along the tools of her trade and invited Catherine Hendy and me to try out automatic drawing. Both of us felt quite nervous about the experience and wondered what our drawings may reveal. We both chose to use sheets upon which Mirka had already placed some random marks. It took a while to get into the process but we did enjoy trying it out and in the end I didn’t want to stop, it was almost addictive. Here are the results of our first trial.

I love Mirka’s forms and her use of materials. In the future she plans to work with opaqueness and use light with the porcelain, which I am really looking forward to seeing. 

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Mirka Janeckova brooches. Photo: Pavel Dousek
Portfolio Mirka Janeckova
Mirka Janeckova rings. Photo: Pavel Dousek

Elizabeth Jane Campbell

Here, DJG member and renowned enameller Jane Moore interviews Elizabeth Jane Campbell, who has already won awards for her innovative approach to enamelling and who exhibited with us in the Barbican this winter.

ElizabethJaneCampbell 2

JM: We came across you and your work at New Designers. Did you enjoy your training?

EJC: I trained at Edinburgh College of Art, and feel very privileged to have gained my BA Hons in Jewellery and Silversmithing from such an iconic institute, and I am very proud to have studied in my hometown of Edinburgh.

While at Edinburgh College of Art I was able to take advantage of some wonderful opportunities, including studying at West Dean College and going on exchange to Nova Scotia, Canada, where I spent a semester studying jewellery and enamelling. My four years studying were always challenging, but always enjoyable, and I loved every minute of being a student at Edinburgh College of Art.

JM: Your enamelling is very interesting. When and how did you choose to enamel onto a ceramic block?

EJC: I discovered enamelling while on my 3rd year exchange to Nova Scotia and the possibilities of the technique fascinated me. When I returned to Edinburgh College of Art I went into my 4th and final year when we developed our personal interests in jewellery and developed our degree show collection – it was during this year I began considering other options for enamel rather than metal. I was keen to create larger and more sculptural pieces of enamelling, and so I began my experiments with ceramic block as the materials could allow me to create large-scale enamel jewellery that remained relatively light and thus wearable.

JM: Is this an easy material to work with and will you continue to use it?

EJC: The ceramic block can be a temperamental material to work with, as it is brittle and can be prone to cracking during the carving process. All of the ceramic elements in my work are hand carved as I feel the traditional technique of hand carving adds a unique quality to the pieces – however the carving of ceramics create a high volume of fine dust and so health and safety precautions have to be followed when working with it (i.e. good quality respirator mask, workshop ventilation etc.)

Furthermore, as the enamel is not designed for use with ceramic, applying enamelling to the carved pieces requires a lot of practice, experimentation and patience. 
However despite the challenges of the material, I find it very rewarding and enjoyable to work with, and I will continue to work with it while I develop new techniques and designs for enamelling using different unconventional materials.

JM: Do you prefer to enamel onto metal or ceramic and will you experiment in enamelling onto other surfaces?

EJC: I am verypassionate about enamelling and I enjoy the challenges of experimenting with different enamels, materials and methods of application. I have various plans for future experiments with different materials, as well continuing with the use of enamelled ceramic block. However, enamelling onto metal is particularity special to me – I adore the traditional enamel techniques such as cloisonné, champlevé and plique a jour, and I believe a full and experienced understanding of enamel is crucial to allow designers the freedom and knowledge to experiment. Because of this I am constantly striving to learn more about enamelling onto metal so I can understand the traits and constraints of the technique before considering how I can exploit the materials in a new and interesting way.

 

JM: Are you material led in your work or is your source of inspiration quite specific?

EJC: I find my work is inspired by both an interest in material exploration and the possibilities of enamelling techniques, as well as by my source inspiration. I am inspired by the academic theories of visual literacy – a topic which may sound rather dry, but in which I find huge inspiration for the use of colour, pattern and shape to create designs that hint at a ‘visual stress’ which attracts the viewer. I was first introduced to the concepts of visual literacy and visual stress by a tutor I had while studying in Canada, and alongside my interest in enamelling I began to develop a very personal design style.

ElizabethJaneCampbell 5

JM: Did you have many exhibition opportunities offered to you at New Designers?

EJC: I have been overwhelmed by the amazing response to my work and I have been extremely fortunate by receiving some incredible opportunities and exhibitions from New Designers – including being awarded the Mark Fenn Award from the Association for Contemporary Jewellery (ACJ), and more recently winning the Guild of Enamellers 2014 Bursary. A highlight from New Designers was the chance to exhibit with the Designer Jewellers Group at the Barbican this winter, which allowed me the chance not only to show my work alongside some wonderful established jewellers, but also to meet and work with jewellers at the DJG exhibition. 
From New Designers I have also had the opportunity to exhibit across the country in renowned galleries such as the ‘Kath Libbert Gallery’ in Saltaire and ‘Dazzle’ at the Oxo Towers in London.
 I am thrilled to say that I am still receiving exhibition opportunities from showing at New Designers and I am now back in the studio at Glasgow School of Art, where I am Artist in Resident, working towards my upcoming exhibitions in both the UK and abroad.