I was talking to my mum the other night when she piped up, “Without going into a rant, has that gallery paid you yet?” Can I just take this opportunity to apologise to my family and friends for having to listen to my business grumblings, I promise to try to keep it to a minimum. I’m realistic. I know I’m not going to stop completely.
So, instead of nagging, I’m going to tell you a little bit about who inspires me. So, make yourself a mint tea or a cardamom coffee, sit back on your floor cushion and read on (shi-sha pipe optional).
Whenever I find myself in the vicinity of a camel I make it my mission to seek out a particular type of jewellery. The Tuareg are nomadic Berbers from the Sahara regions of North Africa and I first became aware of their jewellery back in 2000. The jewellery is simplistic and yet also intricate. Each piece is hand engraved with geometric patterns and then oxidised so as to emphasise the design.
These are some of my favourite pieces to date – though I’ve just seen a sweet little silver and ebony inlaid spoon online that I think has my name on it…………………
It may seem a bit of a stretch to some but it makes perfect sense to me – it was the Tuareg jewellery that first gave me the idea to make my etched Fair Isle range. When ever I see this North African jewellery, my mind is immediately transported back to that part of the world. There is no mistaking the design as anything but Tuareg. I wanted to design a range of jewellery that would instantly connect the wearer to either their Scottish roots or to their holiday destination by evoking a similar feel. I’ve aimed to keep each piece simple in design and let the Fair Isle pattern do the talking.
I’m also inspired by Egyptian designer, Azza Fahmy. This determined woman followed her dreams of becoming a jeweller in the male dominated profession in the Grand Bazaar, known as the Khan el-Khalili, in Cairo. It was an up hill struggle to become accepted by her peers but she is now possibly the best known jeweller in Egypt and has international acclaim. I do find that a lot of the work is not to my taste as it tends to be overly elaborate but that’s not the point. It’s the way she’s been able to harness traditional Egyptian designs, bring them up to date and yet keep the traditional feel that fascinates me.
For the same reason, I’m also drawn to the work by London based, but Athens born, Daphne Krinos. Greece remains one of the main influences in her work and she states that the colours of the precious stones she uses are reminiscent of her summer holidays back in her native Greece. It’s easy to see the Aegean influence. She tends to use large translucent cabochons and unusual, chunky, hexagonal beads in her work and favours aquamarines and tourmalines – the colours of the sea.
There have been many people, places and objects that have inspired me over the years which is why I’m about to take a tentative new step. Although I’m really pleased with my Fair Isle collection, I’m going to take a break from designing any new pieces for it. I’ll still be restocking the galleries as it sells but I am on a new mission! I have a huge pile of sketchbooks covering my 4 years at college. Each book explores a different theme from shale mining to corsetry and they are crammed full of ideas. I just haven’t had the time to experiment with them. I’m really looking forward to some play-time and who knows who or what my inspiration is going to be in the future.