Saturday, 28 May 2011

Cross Country Connections

One of our group, Berkeley Brown, grew up and completed her Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing Degree in Nova Scotia, Canada. After participating in an exchange within her course to the Glasgow School of Art in 2007, she came back this year as one of the Artists in Residence. We thought we'd like to know a little more about her, so Joanna Bletcher compiled a little questionnaire...

an example of Berkeley's work

What made you choose jewellery as the medium for your artistic expression? Would you class yourself as a jewellery designer? 

I was drawn to jewellery after seeing jewellers at work in a local jewellery store when I was 17. I’ve always loved craft and working with my hands and this combined with shiny objects was irresistible I guess. It was the making process rather than the product that initially drew me to jewellery and it wasn’t until later that I was exposed to and inspired by contemporary jewellery.

You studied on exchange at GSA as part of your Undergraduate degree from NSCAD, what made you decide to return as Artist in Residence? 

I moved back to Glasgow after finishing my degree because of the supportive and inspiring arts community here. The GSA’s Artist is Residence programme is a brilliant opportunity to return to an art school’s creative and stimulating environment but with a different view or freedom as well as a way to gain valuable teaching experience. I was also drawn to the residency because of the GSA’s enamelling facilities which I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

How has your experience of being immersed in a different country affected your work? 

It’s hard to separate the natural growth of my work after graduation and Scotland’s influence, but it seems that there are unconscious design influences. For example many people have said that some of my new rings recall Macintosh aesthetics in a way, though I hadn’t thought of this at the time. The main thing actually, is meeting so many creative people here and being inspired by their motivation to pursue a career in jewellery.

You appear to enjoy working with non-traditional materials. To what extent do you find that the play with materials affects your final designs? 

Very much! Enamel and paper are the alternate materials that I’ve used so far, both of which present many challenges when combined with metal and made into wearable pieces. I experiment with them to find how they can best be used and in the process of experimenting often discover that my designs have to be changed to accommodate them. I really enjoy this challenge.

How much importance do you place on the display of your work? Is wearability an important factor in its creation? 

I know that display is important, but I believe that a piece should stand on its own- be an interesting piece in its own right. I like to think of jewellery as wearable sculpture, or sculpture in miniature, though I suppose practical wearability may be called into question with some of my pieces. But I make my jewellery with the thought that they can be worn, because this is such a wonderful way of interacting with sculpture as well as a brilliant challenge.

Thanks Berkeley! :)