Celebrating Modern Ruin

Following on from Tate Britain's Ruin Lust, I call this work a "Celebration of Modern ruin" . As in the Tate's recent exhibition I want to look at the positive aspects in the unravelling of our environment.

I was recently interviewed by Kerry Flint for The 405 who asked the question "Who do you see wearing your jewellery?" I said; "A person who stops to look at a tree with a perfectly round knot hole, or notices that in the partly demolished building on their street there's layers of '60s wallpaper exposed in the crumbling remains of a half wall." 

I walk past this old lamp post most days. I love the weird faded pink and I have no idea how the paint has puckered in this way, it always reminds me of a peeling silver birch tree. From the other perspective, the rock in the other picture looks like a brightly painted chunk of masonry but the colours are natural and this is a real mineral called Orpiment.

I hope that if we can look at our own modern surroundings with the same rose-tinted view we use for aged ruins and natural objects, appreciating the processes and textures for what they are we will be happier in our daily lives.

 One of my latest pieces using workshop fragments

One of my latest pieces using workshop fragments

Using fragments of ruins to make something new

"The very materials which we build with retain the vulnerabilities of their natural state: In truth, all stone weathering is stone disease. No stone resists the action of atmospheric agencies indefinitely; otherwise we would have no sediments, no soil, no natural sculpture. Chemical change belongs to the beauty and liveliness of stone: it is the natural carving that records Time in immediate form within the pattern & colour of the surface."  Adrian Stokes, Stones of Rimini. 

The rock cycle doesn't end or begin but shows us how one material can form another through different processses and combinations that create the various substances in our environment.

As one breaks down into sediments it finds itself in one of these processes it eventually goes on to become whichever new type of rock that it leads to. My workshop practices mean that in making there are broken pieces and surplus material left over. I have been collecting these fragments and using them in new pieces, to emulate the sequence in nature.

Each one of my pieces I personally make by hand. Every one of these coloured flecks is the result of a piece of jewellery being created. They wouldn't exist without the previous work, each a record of the pieces before it. In the same way by using hand working processes rather than having my work manufactured by others or machines means that with each piece I gain experience. Each one a tiny fragment gained that can build into something more varied and interesting. So everything I have learned also goes into the next piece.

The Berlin Wall has been crumbling into ruin for 25 years this November. It's demolition and the end of the separation of East and West Germany is a massive celebration, a positive Modern Ruin after decades of oppression. The bright colours are the expressions of artists from over the years, and the flecks throughout are the bits of rock, minerals and detritus in the concrete. This chunk of rubble has become a treasured memento, sold as a souvenir and creating a business for entrepreneurs. (there's an interesting interview with one of the main "wall sellers" here).

I love this image of a party goer sharing a light through a hole in the wall.

  For this bright yellow ring I've used granite for a rugged edge.

For this bright yellow ring I've used granite for a rugged edge.

 A piece of the Berlin with a Thierry Noir painting.

A piece of the Berlin with a Thierry Noir painting.

Here's a quote from the artist Thierry Noir: "Painting on the Berlin Wall was an act of liberation. I had been living close to it for two years in April 1984, when after a while, I started feeling the need to rebel against its oppressive stature. I decided to physically react against the pressure and domination of daily life near the Berlin Wall. So I went to the back of my house at Mariannenplatz, five metres away from the wall and started painting. Living near this wall was very melancholic and after two years, I felt a little dizzy because nothing was happening in the morning, nothing was happening in the afternoon, nothing was happening in the evening or at night. So initially painting on the wall was a way for me to change my ideas and then it became a full time job!" Taken from his interview in Oyster Magazine, read it all here.

A collection of pieces made using workshop fragments, inspired by textures in our surroundings combining natural and urban. 

 Here's a close up of some of the textures.

Here's a close up of some of the textures.

Here's a quote from the artist Thierry Noir who risked his life painting the Berlin wall before it fell:

"Between the LACMA (The Museum of Modern Art in L.A.) and the Variety Tower, there are ten pieces of the Berlin Wall on display. In the afternoon, during lunch break you can see people having their lunch in front of the pieces of the Berlin Wall. This shows the Californian people that not every wall stays up forever and I just loved being able to observe how the new generation was staring at the remains of past history."