Every piece of Lucy Spink’s jewellery is handcrafted in her small workshop. The techniques she uses are ones that have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
The hands-on approach means her work feels organic, allowing marks made during the process to remain as an integral part of the surface, giving the owner a glimpse of how each piece has been formed.
Last month we visited Lucy in her garden studio in Cornwall. Over cups of coffee, we put together a unique collection available online at The Byre for her artist feature, talked through her processes and what inspires her work.
Lucy – thank you for agreeing to be a featured artist for The Byre! Can you tell us about a typical day at the studio for you?
I start everyday with a dog walk, whatever the weather! Walking in beautiful natural landscapes is my reset button, my time to think and mull over new ideas and search for new inspiration. I fill my pockets with pebbles and lichen covered twigs (and a beach clean if that’s where I end up) and then head back to the studio.
Of course, there is admin to do most days, but that isn’t the interesting part. The part I love, the part which makes me tick, is sitting down to my bench and picking up a brand new piece of silver or gold and getting to work cutting, filing, texturing and shaping.
From just a few glimpses around your studio, at the lichen and pebbles collected around the space, we can see that you are heavily inspired by and sympathetic with the natural world. How does this feed into your collections?
Each collection has its own unique character from the strong rectangular shapes inspired by ancient standing stones to the delicate whispy forms of lichens. Texture plays a big part in my work as well, I am drawn to tactile surfaces and I think touch is a huge part of how we experience the world.
Are there any artists, makers or writers that you often look to for motivation to push your work forward?
The Precious Collective has been a really big influence in pushing my work forwards, it is where the Lichen Brooches started out. (Precious Collective is an international group of jewellers working in unusual forms and mediums of which I am a member)
Stuart Cairns is a wonderful maker using found things and describes himself as “a small life stuffed with wonder”. I love that. Robert Macfarlane writes about those small (and large) wonders and I have loved reading his work since the first time I picked up his books. I think it’s the people who look about at nature with wide eyed wonderment and create work that encapsulates that energy who inspire me most.
Your organic lichen brooches – a singular piece of lichen held in place using a copper outline of the shape – are simply stunning. Can you tell us a little more about this series of work?
As mentioned before, these grew from the first exhibition of the Precious Collective. The brooches are the beginning of a new body of work, I have already started working on other pieces that will be made in Silver and Gold and less ethereal.
I have loved making these with the intent in the work that the lichen will degrade over time and the wearer can then open up the little claws and replace it with their own treasured finds.
Some of my most treasured things are pieces of wood or seeds I have found while walking and by turning them into jewellery, wearing them close to our bodies, we can be connected to the external living world and watch the transformation of this jewellery just as nature transforms through the seasons.
What’s your most-used – or favourite – technique when making your jewellery? We love the look of the oxidised silver in your pieces.
Oxidising works on all sorts of surfaces, reticulated silver is particularly good as the surface changes and evolves as the black patina is rubbed away through wear.
However it is not everyone’s cup of tea and reticulated silver has a very special way of catching the light so it looks like it is shimmering which you can really see when the metal is left its natural colour.
Could you tell us a bit of information about the collection of work you’ve put together for you artist feature at The Byre?
The main piece of work for this is a beautiful necklace designed around a stunning piece of rutile quartz. It is a one off design using the fabulous texture of reticulated silver and the strong rectangular shapes which dominate my Monolith range. There are elements of recycled 18ct gold in some of the pieces which represent the human connection to landscape and the importance of our natural environment.