Hi, I’m May, I’m blogging regularly for Bluecoat Display Centre featuring exhibiting artists as well as up and coming artists whom I am interested in. My focus for this blog is the jeweller Ellis Mhairi Cameron.
When I first saw Ellis’ work gleaming in a glass cabinet at the Bluecoat, it was the rustic and raw appeal of her work, in contrast to the more classical and contrived pieces, that encouraged me to find out a little more.
The rustic gems and stones encapsulated in a crater like silver ring are inspired by the rugged Scottish landscape, from leaping hills to the roaring sea. The natural and ‘found’ stones work in harmony with the silver, and the product is something much more edgy and exciting than the sedate category that a lot of jewellery still conforms to, in order to be classified as timeless. However, it is the ingenuity and imperfect feel to Ellis’s work that makes it so appealing and lasting, in absolute abundance.
I can’t pick a favourite of Ellis’s pieces as they are all so individual, and interesting in their own unique way. However, I do love the contrast of vibrant stones with the cleaner looking silver, and the way they are moulded into one, organic piece.
Below, Ellis talks about her work, the process’ involved and future projects:
I am inspired by the un-even, the honest, and the imperfection of the raw landscape.
My jewellery aims to evoke the organic environment of my the West Coast of Scotland. I grew up in the Highlands, so the beauty of the natural landscape has always been of great interest to me. I intend to use my jewelery to question what can be regarded as precious, through working exclusively in silver and uncut ‘found’ stones from the beaches of Scotland. I find quartz, granite and chalcedony particular stunning stones to work with. My most recent collection, Cairn, takes inspiration from the beaches of Tralee and Craigneuk, in Benderloch, Argyll.
I tend to photograph and sketch my surroundings; rocks, sea, stones and hills. I am particularly attracted to rough textures and fractures in rocks. I then work from my initial source drawings and photographs, picking out details and collaging forms together. I then translate my ideas into 3D, by working in wax, hand carving each piece individually so it is unique. The waxes are then cast in silver. This allows me to ‘draw’ into the metal, so that my work echoes my source as true as is possible. In my work I try to use processes such as casting and fusing in unorthodox ways, in order to induce a sense of natural unpredictability into my jewellery.
I currently sell in galleries all over the UK, as well as in a gallery in France. My customers vary; I have had my work bought by people aged 20-80, both male and female. Most customers seem to be looking for bespoke pieces of jewellery, that is visually edgier than the current big brands. I tend to find (luckily!) that once someone has bought one piece, they usually keep buying, as they like the style and want to buy work that has been carefully crafted, instead of mass produced.
Currently I have just finished a year long artist residency in the Silversmithing & Jewellery department at The Glasgow School of Art where I taught First Year BA students as well as working on my latest collection. I’m now about to start my MA in Jewellery at Central St Martins in London. Over Summer I’ve been working in a studio in @Work Gallery where I also stock my work.
As well as starting my Masters in Jewellery, in the next few months I have a few big shows coming up. I am part of Talents, at Tendence in Frankfurt in August and International Jewellery London in September. After that I have a showcase of work at Dundee Contemporary Arts in September/October and I’m taking part in Selected at The Dovecot in Edinburgh, November-January 2016. I’m also showing work at The Found Gallery, Dunbar, for Christmas.
I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do. I’m still constantly exploring new ways to develop my work and progress it visually as time passes. I am very excited for the future of my jewellery and where I can take it next.
To find out more about Ellis’ Work, check out the links below: