As well as welcoming friends and regular customers to our private view at the Barbican this year, we also took the opportunity to present a gift from us all to Jeanne Werge Hartley on her retirement from being an active member of the group. As the last of the founder members of the group, which started in 1976, Jeanne was instrumental in bringing the DJG to the Barbican and was chairman of the group twice. We were also delighted to see founder members Brian Marshall and Tony Laws who also came to make the occasion a really special one for Jeanne.
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.
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.
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.
MC: Where did you study and what got you interested in making jewellery?
CB: I have been interested in jewellery since I was young and I made jewellery out of wire, bottle caps and drinks cans for my friends and sold it at school. At college I became more and more interested in adorning the body, so a degree in jewellery seemed like a natural progression.
I studied at Edinburgh College of Art, graduating with a 1st in BA Jewellery & Silversmithing in 2012. Since then I have been developing my jewellery from my experimental degree collection, into more wearable everyday pieces.
MC: What are your inspirations?
CB: My work is inspired by plants, flowers and microscopic images of cells: I have always been fascinated by the colours, textures and delicate structures. Colour, pattern, material and scale are what excites me, colour being the most important medium of all. I try to create jewellery that tantalises all of the senses though my use of bold colours and different materials, so much so that it draws you in to take a closer look.
MC: How do you make your wonderful pieces?
CB: I use aluminium because of its light weight and malleability, the method of powder-coating gives me a strong smooth block colour to work off and the suede chenille (bound around the edges) for a different texture. All of my work is hand-pierced, which people say is crazy, but I like to have control over the patterns and it means that each piece is completely unique.
MC: What have you been doing since you graduated in 2012?
CB: Since exhibiting at New Designers: One Year On this year I have taken part in eight contemporary jewellery exhibitions around the country, one in Norway, including the Designer Jewellers Group. Next February I will be taking part in the new graduate exhibition at Studio Fusion Gallery, London and FASHIONED at Craft Central, London. I am also working towards designing a more commercial range of jewellery which I will launch at Pulse Design Fair, London in 2014.
MC: Thanks Ciara, I think you have a bright future in jewellery design.
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.
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.
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!
P.B. Your work has clear narrative what stories inspire your designs?
K.M. Mainly stories I’ve collected while travelling. After spending time working and studying in America I built up a scrapbook of photographs, tickets, postcards and letters. Small reminders of time spent, usually left forgotten on a shelf and rarely looked at. My designs expresses a personal narrative of these stories. of my own travels and memories.
P.B. How do feel about working to commission and producing work that tells another person’s story?
K.M. I am more than happy to offer customers a commission service where they can work with me to turn their own memories and experiences into a unique piece of jewellery inspired by the people, places and moments they treasure.
P.B. What mementoes are you currently working with?
K.M. I’m actually not long home from an inter-rail trip around Europe. So I’m working with a collection of photographs, tickets, sketches and memories from this trip. I’m also in talks with a photographer friend (Declan Franklin) about a potential collaboration focusing on the architecture in my home city Dundee.
P.B. You draw upon architecture in your work, what buildings particularly inspire you?
K.M. With architecture it’s not so much any particular building, I enjoy the patterns, shapes and structures. I love the geometry of architecture.
P.B. Where and what is the Criterion?
K.M. The Commodore Criterion Building is an empty building in New York which used to hold the offices of various toy firms and is famous for having a permanent Christmas display in the windows. It’s located in New York City where Broadway and Fifth Avenue split.