Tuesday, 18 June 2013

City Lit - benchpeg awards

"Congratulations to the winners in the City Lit Benchpeg jewellery awards - Brigitte Pividal (First Place), Billie M Vigne (Second Place) and Kostandino Karanikas (Third Place) who received their awards at the private view of the City Lit Jewellery Week exhibitions which took place on Thursday July 13. Student and staff work is currently on show until June 28. The evening also featured a book signing by jeweller and City Lit tutor Melissa Hunt. You can vote for your favourite piece of jewellery in the People's Choice Award which will be announced in early July."

Winners, judges and tutors

Brigitte Pividal

Billie M Vigne

Kostandino Karanikas

Find out more about benchpeg and subscribe to the free news letter to see more about the awards

Find out more about Jewellery Courses at City Lit

The Folkton drums

Late Neolithic period, 2600-2000 BC Found in East Yorkshire, England

Mysterious grave goods

"These objects were found by Canon William Greenwell in 1889 when he opened a round barrow on Folkton Wold. They had been placed behind the head and hips of the body of a child in an oval grave close to the outer of two concentric ditches. Several other bodies shared the monument. The custom of burying individuals with 'special' grave goods had begun by about 3000 BC. This grave offering is exceptional (the drums are unique) and must indicate something about the status of the child.

The drums are made from local chalk and are elaborately carved, using a technique very like that of chip-carving used by woodworkers. No other objects like them survive, but perhaps equivalent items were made of wood and have not survived. We do not know how they were used.

The decoration is organized in panels; stylized human faces look out from two of the drums. The significance of the designs is unknown to us, though they are very similar to those found on pottery of the Later Neolithic Grooved Ware style. The geometric patterns recall Beaker pottery and Early Bronze Age sheet goldwork decorated in the same vein."

Subterranean Garden Neckpiece

Gardens are a reoccurring theme in my work. Gardens and different types of gardens; secret gardens, underground gardens, parallel world gardens, gardens that we might visit in our dreams or remember from our childhood, a perfect garden or an overgrown garden. This particular piece had its origin in the myth Proserpine in Roman or Persephone in Greek Mythology. The Godess is stolen away to the underworld where she eats pomegranate and it then transpires that she has to stay in the underworld for half the year and is allowed to return in spring hence the spring time myth. I like to imagine this subterranean garden we cannot see when she returns during our winter. Is there a mutated parallel version of “Spring” that happens elsewhere and in which case would the flowers be the same or a version of it?

Materials: Merino felt, Oxidised silver, cotton, natural dyes. Techniques: Oxidising, forming and fusing, yarn dying, crochet.Size: 3.5 x 3 (widest parts), Chain length 86cm Date: 2009 Image Credit: Alan Parkinson

Strange Garden neckpiece

The title Strange garden alludes to a Polish Symbolist Painting of the same name. The scale and colour of this painting coupled with the uncanny nature of the flying creature depicted has returned again and again to my thoughts. The idea of a parallel place, a secret garden that exists but at the same time cannot.

Materials: Oxidised silver, cotton, natural dyes. Techniques: Oxidising, forming and fusing, yarn dying, crochet. Size: 6x6cm (widest parts), chain length 86 cm Date: 2009


For a few years now I have been thinking about "strangeness" not in scientific terms, but as a descriptive term. What makes something unusual or extraordinary? Why do we feel "strange" when we see something, is it just because something is new or unfamiliar? Is it different for all of us? How much is fear and how much is intrigue? What makes something bizarre?

I recently watched a documentary about automata and clockwork machines designed hundreds of years ago to mimic life. The person I was watching it with then told me all about the uncanny valley, a term I had not come across before…linked to our emotional response to robots and human likeness.

The works I have been developing over the past year link to non visual sources which trigger responses within us, creating different kinds of test pieces and development compared to working directly with imagery or physical sources. For me “The Imagined” has enabled me to create works that have the quality of the unidentified, a strange museum object, the imagined MacGuffin, the object from folklore which only survives through word of mouth and communal story…

"Talisman Pectoral". Hand dyed yarns, hand felted surface, oxidised silver. Made in 2010

Anne Siems

I came across Anne Siems work a while ago work and keep meaning to share it. Her paintings and drawings are so beautifully worked and I guess I am drawn to them as they have similar elements to my own works, botanical, historical and strangeness and folklore. There is an animation on her website that I love, produced with Robert Campbell in 2010, take a look...

"At present, I continue with my interest in the human figure and the attributes that surround it. These attributes reflect something about the being without giving a specific narrative. Ideas about life and death, sensuality, sexuality, nature, experiences in the realm of dreams, psyche and spirit are my ongoing topic. A lot of inspiration for these pieces stem from my ongoing love for the art of the European Masters, Early American Folk Art, as well as vintage and modern photography".

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Great Dixter

Last weekend I visited one of my favourite gardens, Great Dixter. It is a very different garden compared to Sissinghurst. The planting is so individual and famous for it's clashing of colours and unconventional choices. Here are a few photos I took when I was there...

"Great Dixter was the home of gardener and gardening writer Christopher Lloyd (1921-2006), who developed it into a hub of ideas and connections that spread out across the world."