Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
I was looking at some of my photographs on Flickr yesterday and realised that this last year has been incredibly busy. To go completely "Old Media" on you all - though I suppose blogging has become a bit old-media itself - here is my review of my own highlights of 2013.
Started off icily with a return to work and a commission for the "Small Pond Ring", consisting of tiny silver fish swimming around a mobile pond centred on a blue topaz:
I also made the "Empire State Human: A Post-Industrial Codpiece" for the ACJ exhibition which was held in Sheffield to commemorate 100 years since the invention of stainless steel:
This photograph of me wearing the codpiece was taken by Simon Murphy, who proved to be a major collaborator over the year. This piece is made from Viner's brand stainless steel knives which were made in Sheffield (the company no longer makes them there, which is part of the point of my piece), sterling silver, steel spring-washers and CZ stones.
I also made this "Shimano Skull Pendant" from a piece of a bike mechanism to use up a setting of which I had cast a few too many:
The reason I had too many square settings was that I had also been accepted for the "Earrings Galore" show at Heidi Lowe Gallery and that meant that I had to make various sets of earrings:
All trios, of course!
Kicked off with me absorbed in research into Chanel after seeing a video about her 1932 collection of fine jewellery:
And I was accepted into the "Buttons" show at the Macclesfield Silk Museum with my button "She's Lost Control", an indirect tribute to Macclesfield's own Iain Curtis of "Joy Division":
Made from a found washer, ceramic, silver and peridot.
I also found a box of dressmaking pins in one of the classrooms at the college and made a kinetic ring:
This was also the first time I decided to try making videos to explain what I'm doing (expect more of these in 2014):
February also brought the "Vikings" exhibition at the NMS in Edinburgh, an amazing show which had so much jewellery in it. I wasn't allowed to take photographs of the jewellery but got this wonderful shot of the display of the nails of a Viking boat as they would have been in the original boat:
Wendy Ramshaw featured in my year quite a lot too, kicking off with her exhibition at The Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh. This was really a bit of a turning point for me as it made me realise that I am not very keen on her work:
The pins continued to intrigue me and I made this pendant from more pins, a corroded iron plate, a large synthetic ruby, silver and a slice from a deer-skull:
The month ended with me preparing to go to San Francisco and completing the "Alpha Male" ring:
This is made from a strip of stamped steel which I found the previous summer in Sussex, sterling silver and a white quartzite. I'm delighted to say that when I finally sent it to the Cursley & Bond Gallery in October, it caused a fight!
I left Glasgow at something like -4 degrees C and landed at 18 degrees C!
I was also invited by Curtis Arima to speak at the California College of the Arts about my work and practice. This was brilliant and I am hoping that one of their students will be joining me next March to work with me in Glasgow:
For me, one of the most exciting parts of this was meeting with Marilyn da Silva!
When I returned from San Francisco, I was almost immediately off to Hull to meet with fellow jeweller and blogger, Cari-Jane Hakes to discuss the possibility of arranging an exhibition of our own which should be happening in 2015.
I didn't get much made in March, but did find time to complete this bangle "And They Were Imagining Roses" from a strip of corroded iron, silver, pyrite flowers, garnets and a large zircon. This was for one of my friends in San Francisco, who I actually managed to miss meeting with when I was there!
Brought me to Turkey for my first solo exhibition, "I Am Iron Man" at Ayse Taki Galerisi in Istanbul:
Organised in a large part by my friend and colleague, Umut Demirguc Thurman and her sister, Ufuk, to whom I am extremely grateful.
One of the wonderful things about Istanbul was the wealth of tradtional silversmiths and jewellers who work there and in the Grand Bazaar, everywhere you turn there is the sound of hammers being tapped into metal:
I also got the chance to teach in a small private school in the city:
Hrac, the owner of the school, took us around the Bazaar later in the week and I was introduced to makers and gem-dealers.
On the very last day of the visit, Umut and her sister took me up onto the roof of the Grand Bazaar and we found an old loom, which I harvested for iron elements:
April became a really busy month as I completed a number of orders taken on the back of the show:
Additionally, I used some of the materials from Istanbul to make some pieces specifically based on my visit:
I seem to have managed to be phenomenally productive in April... I also managed to squeeze in more stock items for the Etsy shop:
Saw more of the same, using up odds and ends and combining them with materials from my trips but it also saw the start of the degree shows in Scotland. I finished a pendant:
And started work on a piece which I had been planning for a few years, Samson's Riddle, a pendant with a detachable brooch which is made from an old Victorian white-metal clock ornament which had been damaged.
Made from an iron cake tin, silver, fine silver, shibuichi, a plastic toy lion's claw, a handmade glass taxidermy lion's eye, Victorian brass bee stampings and a variety of golden gemstones, including yellow sapphires, garnets, sunstone and citrine.
As I was going to be in Touchstone over the summer, they asked me to contribute a piece of jewellery to their fundraising jazz-evening, so I created a bracelet on Cecil Taylor's "Excursion On A Wobbly Nail", my piece being "Excursion On A Wobbly Nail":
I also took a commission for a double trio of cufflinks and learned that I should always ask for a deposit. The customer never took them and refused to discuss them with me after they were made. Not a problem, really, as they sold later but still annoying.
The first degree show of the year was Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee with the superb show of jewellery, setting a high bar for the following shows. Two highlighs, for me, were Anaïs Paulard with her humorous, philosophical and interactive jewellery:
And Zoe Davidson with her wearable creatures:
I also commissioned one of the graduates, Rachael Deas, to make my first Christmas present in the form of one of her amazing lamps:
I also managed to finish a piece I had started some time before, my own experiment with electronics in jewellery, "14th Century Nightlife", a pendant featuring an illuminated, hollow tagua nut:
Last piece in May was the "Loom Bangle" made from parts of the loom I had found in Istanbul:
Kicked off with the Edinburgh College of Art degree show, another amazing exhibition and my two highlights from this show were Elizabeth Jane Campbell and her exquisite vitreous enamels on carved ceramic soldering materials:
I also received my signature stamps. I can't believe I've never had these before!
So as of this point, all my work will be signed!
Next degree show was the Glasgow School of Art show and not only did I go to the jewellery and silversmithing but I also had the pleasure of being in the show as the subject of one of the exhibits. My choice of the Glasgow show was, without a doubt, Hamish Dobbie:
As well as the work of Lara Whittaker, one of my own ex-students:
Callum Rice in the graphics section made a film and photographic installation about my work and the way it celebrates the industrial history of the west coast of Scotland. I was really pleased with what he came up with:
Unfortunately, I've managed to lose touch with Callum.
Juna also saw the conclusion of my collaboration with Simon Murphy for the "Enough: Violence" show at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, an exciting project in which Simon and I worked with young people who were victims of violence to tell their story through photographs, text and jewellery. I am so proud of this project.
In between all the degree shows came the "Craftex" exhibition, organised by the Trades House of Glasgow, an exhibition of work by students on the various craft courses in colleges in Glasgow. As ever, my students put on a superb show.
Bangle by Carol Docherty.
Next up was my own graduates' degree show. Unfortunately, I worked so closely with these people that I can't actually pick any favourites but if you are interested in revisiting what they did, the post is here.
As if this were not all enough, we also all exhibited in the "Handmade By Machines" show at The Lighthouse where students and staff showed off what they could do with CAD/CAM processes. It was a great show and although I had started "20000 Leagues Under The Seas" for this show, got so delayed with things that I didn't get it finished, so dusted off "Supercollider" for exhibition at it:
I also contributed a thrown-together brooch for the "O-Pin Project" for which I returned to that box of dressmaking pins I found!
June also saw me make my first visit to New Designers in London, the showcase for all recent graduates in design disciplines.
I had seen all the Scottish jewellery and silversmithing exhibits and it was really exciting to see the rest of the country. I commissioned a knife from Sheffield-based Knifemaker, Alexander Flood, who has some really exciting ideas about pocket knives.
June also saw me working extensively with my friend, Wing Mun Devenney on her new book on Soldering.
Saw me head off to the US to work at both Touchstone Centre for Crafts and the Society for Contemporary Crafts. Touchstone was brilliant fun; I was meant to have been teaching a class in iron jewellery there but it was cancelled at the last moment and Adam very kindly invited me to stay for a week as an artist in residence. Surprisingly, I managed to get quite a lot of work made!
These rivet-head rings proved to be rather popular and I made and sold several of them for the fundraiser at Touchstone. I really loved being there and hope to be going back in 2015.
My work in Pittsburgh was fascinating: not only was I working with the SCC as I have been over the last few years, but I also had the opportunity to work with a group of Young Offenders in an institute near Pittsburgh, the Shuman Detention Center. In both cases, we used jewellery to explore their experiences of violence and the women who set this up, Sherrard and Jerry, were amazing. I can't thank them enough for making this happen:
I love working in Pittsburgh and the people at the SCC are always so warm and welcoming:
One of the great things about the city is that it has a lively arts scene and I've come to know many makers there and this time we took the opportunity to hang out with Glen Gardner a lot:
Glen also took us to see what I have to say was by far the worst exhibition I saw all year...
After Pittsburgh we spent a few days in Boston before returning home.
Brought a complete clearing out of the workshop and a total policy change as far as I was concerned. The workshops had to be cleared for re-painting, so I spent the first week of the academic year in doing something I had never done before: cataloguing my gemstones (I now have a searchable database of them):
I also realised when clearing the workshop that I have a terrible tendency to start projects and then leave them unfinished, so determined that I would not start any new projects which were not commissions until I had cleared the backlog of incomplete works. I have to confess to having been horrified at the numbers of unfinished works lying about!
I also decided to enter "Suspended in Green" and Jo Garner's "Anomaly" show, "Bring Back The Dead". For "Suspended in Green" - for which I was rejected - I made my absinthe-inspired "L'Heure de la Fée Verte - A Post-Apocalyptic Cocktail Ring for the Sipping of Absinthe" with the associated wearable absinthe spoon:
I also made a collar for my friend Julia's wedding:
With matching earrings for enlarged pierced ears:
I really got to grips with finishing unfinished work. It was strange how little needed to be done to some of the pieces, such as "Deep Sea Sketch":
Which only needed setting to complete it. "Twisted: For Annie Ross", made from a chunk of found cast-iron, was similar:
I also completed another "Mace" pendant as a commission:
As well as a piece so old that it doesn't use any iron or found elements at all, the "Pearl Reliquary":
I finished the pendant, "Re-construct":
And went to Julia's wedding:
I even got round to finishing a piece I started at Touchstone, "It's A Sin":
Using some of the materials given to my by Glen over the summer, I broke my own new rule and made a series of bracelets, starting with this one, "Baby's On Fire" which I am really proud to say was immediately purchased by John Corliss of 2Roses fame!
Jo's show opened this month too, an excellent event which didn't run for nearly long enough:
I submitted "Dr. Strangelove":
And at the end got Mark Fenn's amazing "Grim Reaper Ring":
This month I also worked on a commission for Stacey Creamer, who has bought one of my rings from the "Ferrous" show at Velvet Da Vinci. I was delighted that she liked the ring enough to commssion another one and she was such a pleasure to design for, allowing me the freedom to work as I pleased within minimum constraints. She wanted one of my post-apocalyptic cocktail rings and I made her this, "Autumn Resonances" to celebrate her October birthday:
And I also managed to complete two "Tank" bracelets:
Brought another - and the last for the time being - of the "Tank" bracelets, this one, "The Spoils of War":
As the prestigious Grey Fox Blog featured my cufflinks, I made a set in honour of the author, the "Autumn Fox" cufflinks:
October also saw me attending the superb "Craft Scotland" conference in Dundee, an event which I hope becomes an annual one.
I met so many wonderful people there and it led to some interesting collaborations subsequently.
Further to the show in Macclesfield, I was commissioned to make another button based on "She's Lost Control":
This was also the month in which I went to the "Pearls" exhibition at the V&A and I recommend anyone to go and see this before it closes.
Poppy Porter gave me an interesting commission to make her a collar using some titanium elements from an F1 racing car and I spent a large chunk of the month listening through the back catalogue of recordings by the band "Muse", the piece being based on a track called "Futurism":
This was also the month that I started to work with a new gallery in Folkestone, Cursley and Bond run by the warm and charming Nicola and Chris. They took a batch of my work for their "Darkness Descends" show and I've arranged to supply them with work in an ongoing basis.
This month also saw me honoured by being nominated as "Scotland's Most Stylish Male" and I found myself involved in the unlikely pursuit of British-made fashion as I decided to put my beliefs into practice and wear entirely British, hand-made clothes for the event in November:
I made a cravat pin to go with this ensemble:
Continuing my policy of finishing unfinished works, I returned to my pendant/knives made from broken steel scissors, "A Chance To Cut Is A Chance To Cure":
This month also brought the #Supbrooch exhibition and another collaboration with Simon Murphy. This time, we brought in Alan Moore at Ten30 to feature my brooches on some of his Harris Tweed jackets. Simon had the idea of combining the jackets with birds of prey.
The waves created by the resulting photographs were just amazing!
Brought one of the strangest events of my life in the form of the "Scottish Style Awards" where I was nominated for the title of "Most Stylish Male". As mentioned previously, I had already decided to wear only British-made clothes to the event and I also made myself a brooch to wear:
I also went to the ACJ Edinburgh show "Chromatic" which was another show organised by Jo Garner, and exploration of how jewellers use colour in their work and was well worth seeing:
My good friend Jeff Zimmer has also been incredibly busy this year and November brought the chance to get to his new studio and see his most recent work, some of which is heading off to a show in Germany. I love Jeff's work and one of the most exciting things for 2014 is going to be a collaboration with him: more details on that when it get started.
A hint at what we are going to be working on...
Finally, the night of the Scottish Style Awards came along and I went with my friend Janine who wore my collar, "Ich Gab Keine Gold Fur Dieses Eisen":
I didn't win my category but it was fantastic to be nominated and I really enjoyed the night, sitting on a table of fascinating people, including a couple of journalists, a woman who sources ethical cosmetics from around the world and a chap who described himself as a "professional clotheshorse". This was my first brush with the world of fashion and although I did find it odd, it was a brilliant experience.
I wore a kilt made by my friend Howie Nicholsby, who was also nominated for the same category as me:
The jacket was borrowed from the Alan who styled the photoshoot. There are so many people I need to thank for helping out with this, from Natalie Fergie and Judy Wilmott who made the socks to Susannah Hall who supplied a British-made shirt at incredibly short notice.
I've only just noticed that this kilt featured rather a lot in 2013!
Although the photoshoot with Simon was only really meant for the #Supbrooch exhibition, it was taken up by the main Scottish Sunday newspaper, Scotland on Sunday and was featured on the front page:
The article inside featured both me and Howie!
The article is available to read here.
My forays into fashion continued with meeting the excellent Gordon who has started up a "Scottish Street Style" group: a very informal group of people interested in Scottish fashion and other associated things. His event at Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh fell on my birthday.
I also finished "Futurism":
This allowed me to get started on another of my previously-abandoned pieces, the one based on work by Chanel. There were also still commissions to complete, including this pair of cufflinks in amber:
The Chanel piece is a sautoir, or long necklace which can be re-configured in various ways. It was based on the idea that Chanel had met Fritz Lang in the 1930s and that she had made costumes for some of his films. I wondered what would have happened if she had designed a piece for Maria in "Metropolis", thus "Foxtrot Pour Maria: Chanel Se Rencontrent Lang":
The whole piece comes apart to yield a brooch, pendants, chains, bracelets and a pair of clip earrings...
Having completed this, I returned to a piece started two years ago, my tribute to Alexander McQueen, "Fashion:Victim" and completed the bangle-handcuff made of iron and silver and set with garnets:
I started to really wind down in December, mainly working on "Fashion:Victim", for which I made another one of the WIP videos of the engraved bottom section:
I had one more photoshoot to complete with Simon and Tom Cairns, who is normally a photographer himself but who has taken to doing a bit of modelling. When I originally discussed the #Supbrooch photoshoot with Simon, I wanted an older man in the images but at that point, we couldn't find anyone, so it was great that Tom agreed to do it.
The first part of "Fashion:Victim - In Memoriam ALMcQ" was completed. Although it works as it stands at the moment, there is actually a second sphere to be completed which forms a contrasting narrative to this one, "The Illusion of Freedom Buys The Power of Destruction":
For anyone who is wondering, the sphere is a kind of "handbag" and is about 160mm across, enough to hold a few items and even a small mobile phone. The second sphere is already under construction and will be the main focus of early 2014. I've gathered up the stones for this already:
Last delightful event of the year for me was the receipt of a copy of William Mitchell's autobiography. I contacted him about two years ago and we exchanged a few emails. He mentioned that he was writing the book and I asked him to keep me posted about when it was published, so it was a big surprise when a copy arrived in the post as a gift from him:
Happy New Year to all my family, friends, colleagues, associates and customers and I hope that 2014 is a good one for you all.