In the final blog post of this series, DJG member Jo McAllister interviews new designer Harriet Rose Knight.
JM: What made you decide to become a jeweller and where did you train?
HRK: I’ve always loved making things. When I was 12, I made my first silver twisted ring at a craft fair workshop and haven’t stopped making jewellery since then. As a schoolgirl, I attended short holiday courses in Cornwall and evening classes in Bath. In June 2014, I graduated from The School of Jewellery, Birmingham with a degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing.
JM: Describe where you do most of your creative work.
HRK: I design anywhere and everywhere. I always have a notebook at the ready for those light bulb moments, sketching what I see or little diagrams of how to assemble a piece. I then develop and refine on my little scribbles, working on my computer in the quiet comfort of home. I am currently an Artist in Residence at The School of Jewellery in Birmingham, where I like to finish, dye and assemble all my pieces within the hustle and bustle of a busy workshop.
JM: What are you currently working on?
HRK: I am developing a whole brand new wooden range of jewellery which I am excited to be bringing out in the New Year. But I am also still developing and promoting my graduate collection. I’m introducing new colour combinations and pieces to the range such as drop earrings and pendants. As well as this, I am also a member of the Continued. Collective which will be exhibiting internationally next year. I am creating a special one-off piece for that.
JM: What are the key themes in your work?
HRK: My graduate collection is entitled ‘A Portrayal of Composure’. It captures the silent concealment of anxiety, through combining a quiet controlled oval exterior, with layers of intricate restrictive grid work. For me it visually describes the escalation and constrained, trapped feeling of fear, emulated through layering and precision cut caged designs. This raw emotion however is disguised through gentle curves, accurate intricacy and a muted colour palette forming a quiet, calm and reflective aesthetic deceiving the viewer. Within each piece, differing stages of portrayal are depicted through the breakdown of grid work.
JM: What would you like people to notice about your work?
HRK: I am always drawn to and take pride in creating pieces with subtle intricate details that are seen when you take the time to look closely. For example within my current work, I will dye an individual layer up to 4 times to highlight the natural grain of the wood.
I am also a bit of a perfectionist which is translated through the control and engineered precision of my designs. I hope that people will feel drawn to the materials used and the blend of engineering and smooth lines in eye-catching, wearable pieces.
JM: What attracts you to the material you work in?
HRK: As I mentioned previously, I love precision and to have control over my materials. Laser cutting allows me to gain this control, however why I specifically enjoy using wood, is that it balances this harsh exactness with a softness and a warmth of a natural material.
In the past I have used a lot of metal within my work, but wood is amazingly light, allowing me to explore thicker, bigger and more intricate designs that would be far too heavy in metal.
JM: What is your favourite tool and why?
HRK: My little riveting hammer! Not only absolutely adorable in size, I couldn’t make my work without it.
JM: Who and / or what inspires you?
HRK: Often within my work I use concepts not as a communication tool but as a design tool for myself. I feel that without a concept to direct my design journey, there are too many possibilities, too many outcomes to choose from and I find myself wanting to try them all. These concepts are from everyday life and issues that I feel strongly towards and range from anxiety, divorce and gender equality.
JM: If you could collaborate with one artist, designer or maker, from any time, who would it be and why?
HRK: I think it would be wonderful to collaborate with Lara Jensen who an incredible milliner, creating pieces for catwalk, TV, film and advertising. Her pieces are daring, expressive and always different. I feel that my conceptual influences and light wood material could be transferred into something really bold and dramatic.
Harriet’s work will be on view and for sale in the Designer Jewellers Group pop up shop in the Barbican until 27th December (closed 24th- 26th December).