Kelly Munro

Kelly Munro has been selected to exhibit with us for our annual Winter show in the Barbican. DJG member Ute Sanne reviews Kelly’s jewellery.

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Kelly Munro has recently set up her studio in Edinburgh, just off the Royal Mile, after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art earlier this year.

Her northern Scottish heritage is undeniable: her jewellery has retained a rustic look inspired by tangled fishing nets, peeling paint, and weather beaten artefacts found on the shore line.

Looking at her work though it is hard to guess, at first glance, that the starting point of her current collection might have been a mangled lobster pot!

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Kelly has moved way beyond any literal interpretation of these fishing objects: there is nothing heavy about her jewellery. The scorched and coloured driftwood supported by saw pierced silver gives it lightness whilst retaining volume and strength. Her rings seem to float upon the finger.

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Amidst the muted colours of wood and oxidized silver there is a sudden burst of bright orange and turquoise green, a hint at the use of modern plastics within the traditional fishing industry: the brightness of floating buoys and ropes.

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Kelly told me about her future plans: a move towards larger wood turned vessels with pierced tops and a possible collaboration with a furnisher designer! I can really see her move in that direction.

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Best of luck Kelly!

Kelly’s jewellery is on display and for sale at the Designer Jewellers Group stand in the Barbican until 1st January 2014.

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Bola Lyon

Introducing the first of our six carefully selected New Designers for 2013: Bola Lyon.

Bola is a graduate of the University for the Creative Arts at Rochester, Kent, and is interviewed here about her work by DJG member Shelby Fitzpatrick. 

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S.F. Your work combines interesting materials. How did you decide to develop this range?

B.L. The range developed out of a fixation with texture, I’d experimented with marking and manipulating metal. The tactile nature of porcelain allowed for a much finer and deeper texture, which freed me to explore the silver elements in a more decorative and structural way.

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S.F. Have you had past experience with porcelain?

B.L. Yes, I’ve dabbled with clay since childhood. My mother was a ceramicist, clay was always available. I first used porcelain about 8 years ago. When I recently started to look at bones for inspiration, it seemed the perfect material to replicate not only the colour of bone but its delicate qualities.

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S.F. The imagery you reference is unusual for jewellery. What triggered these choices?

B.L. I’ve always been intrigued with anatomy, the amazing continually changing patterns of veins and the intricate fibrous meshes within bone. It is unusual inspiration for jewellery but I try to reinterpret the imagery to highlight the hidden beauty and capture the fragility within the structures.

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S.F. Looking at your exploration of the structure of bones, one wonders if you have studied biology.

B.L. I have a keen interest. I didn’t study it in the conventional sense but visiting exhibitions such as the Hunterian collection at the Royal College of Surgeons and ‘Inside Out’ at the Science museum, I’ve been able to appreciate the specimens from an artistic point of view. It is something I would like to pursue.

Bola's shelf at the Barbican

S.F. I could see you collaborating with a scientist to find common ground.  Does this appeal?

B.L. Yes definitely, if the opportunity arose. I was amazed to find a jeweller growing bone with scientists. There are amazing medical and technological advances at the moment, it would be really interesting to see what could happen and get a deeper understanding of anatomical structures.

You can see and buy Bola’s work now, in the Barbican, London, until 1st January.

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair

This post is by Christine Kaltoft, one of our regular DJG members.

Like many DJG members I exhibit at several major craft fairs, and last weekend I was at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair, in Manchester. This is a large fair with over 160 top makers from all over the UK (and some from further afield). All craft disciplines are covered, including ceramics, glass, furniture, millinery, and of course jewellery!

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As well as being a great opportunity to showcase and sell a far wider selection of work than is normally possible in a gallery, I find craft fairs like this an invaluable opportunity to get feedback on new work, meet previous customers and new galleries, and network with other makers. What was particularly nice at this show was the opportunity to meet up with several DJG exhibitors, past and present.

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Elizabeth Jane Campbell was exhibiting as one of the specially selected Great Northern Graduates. Her enamelled jewellery looked stunning! Elizabeth is one of the six New Designers we’ve invited to show with us this winter in the Barbican.

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Ciara Bowles – who we selected from the One Year On section at New Designers – had a stand too, with a great selection of her uber-colourful jewellery. Again, she’ll be exhibiting with us this year.

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It was great to see Stacey Bentley again, with her wonderful contemporary enamels. Stacey exhibited with us as a New Designer in the Winter of 2009, and has really established herself in the intervening years.

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Sarah Hutchison first exhibited her jewellery with the DJG in the Barbican in 2005, again as one of our six annual New Designers. She went on to become a DJG member and regular exhibitor. Sarah has moved back to Scotland now and has opened her own gallery in Edinburgh, the SH Jewellery Gallery. It was terrific to see Sarah win the ‘Craft and Design’ Award from the Craft and Design Magazine too: she’ll get a 3 page feature as her prize!

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I imagine that many of our regular Barbican customers won’t have seen Sarah’s silversmithing range, which includes these highly covetable, hand pierced and hand raised fine silver bowls, so I’ll show them here – I think they’re gorgeous!

All in all it was a great show, with an amazing range of work, and thoroughly enjoyable!

A few words on choosing new designers

This post is by Christine Kaltoft, the Designer Jewellers Group member who co-ordinates our New Designers programme. Christine was herself chosen by the DJG as a New Designer in 2007.

This Friday heralds one of the highlights of my year: visiting the New Designers show at London’s Business Design Centre! Each year I co-ordinate a small selection team on our annual quest to select six of the best new jewellers to join us in our winter show at the Barbican.

I have to warn you that if you’re exhibiting you won’t know who we are: we wander round separately or in pairs, each scanning all the talent on offer, honing in on the work we think is best, and gathering knowledge about it so we can convince the rest of the team!

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Shortlisting can be a pretty cut-throat business: from an amazing array of new work from graduates all over the country we have to select just six, and as our selection team comprises seven practicing designer jewellers and a curator from the Barbican, we’ll no doubt all have our own opinions and favourites.

Once again – if you’re exhibiting – please do stand by your work, or be ready to actively approach people who look as if they might be interested. I’ve seen, over the years, that there’s a really high correlation between exhibitors who pay attention to the visitors and chat in a friendly manner, and those who end up with successful businesses. It’s just so important. We know you’re likely to be nervous, we know you won’t necessarily have a whole, priced, ready to go collection, but what we’re looking for is people with individuality and enthusiasm who’re prepared to work hard. And a key way for us to judge that is by talking with you – so please don’t hang back!

Last year our chosen six included Cristina Zani, Heather Woof, and Arturo Borego, and we’re looking forward to catching up with them in the One Year On section of the show. It’s great seeing how new makers work develops over the years. We offer each of the new designers we select a mentor from the group, and sometimes these relationships continue for years, albeit in a looser way. Networking is so very important in this line of work, and this is the time to start.

And one final piece of advice to those exhibiting: do please have postcards ready to hand out! We use them to vote for you with, in a giant, rambling game of snap! May sound odd but it works. No postcards – or cards that don’t depict your work – can really reduce your chance of success.

So good luck to you all – we’re looking forward to meeting you!