Lots of talk and not much jewellery for me this week!

At the School of Jewellery, we have an extensive programme of Artists-in-Residence (AiR) who work with the students on each course while extending their own practice. Every single year of each course has an AiR allocated to them - which is a luxury, indeed. This week saw us being introduced to them properly as they each gave us a bit of a talk about their hopes and direction for the year.

AiR Talks - 4

AiR Talks - 3

I have already enjoyed working with some of the AiRs and look forward to seeing what they do over the coming year.

Also in the lecture theatre this week was Jenni Dixon, who keeps a fascinating blog on her researches into eighteenth-century Birmingham. She was at the School of Jewellery to give a talk entitled "Birmingham in Miniature" about the development of the Jewellery Quarter from a large industry which had grown up around the manufacture of "toys", or frivolous objects of ostensible use, such as châtelaines.

Birmingham In Miniature - 1

It was good to see that plenty of people from the Jewellery Quarter who are not associated with the School turned up to hear her.

Birmingham In Miniature - 2

There is more information about "toys", especially those produced in Birmingham, on her website.

I have always loved J.G.Ballard since I first read "High Rise" when I was about 15. It fits in perfectly with my love of Brutalism, my apocalyptic fantasies, my fondness for industrial landscapes, collapse and waste. It definitely helped shape my æsthetics. I was delighted to meet recently with Dr. Tom Knowles from the School of English at Birmingham City University and who told me about his conference, "J.G. Ballard and the Natural World".

Fantastic poster design by Rosemary Chalmers

I am SO glad that I went to this and I am even more delighted that none of it went over my head! The best bit of all of this is that I discovered a story by Ballard, a novella, of which I had not heard before - though I am certain he must mention it himself in "Miracles of Life", which I have read - "The Wind From Nowhere". This is his first published and subsequently disowned novel, one which I must now find and read as it seems to me to be rather important in terms of understanding the arc of his development as a writer.

J.G. Ballard - 1

Rather impressively, Ballard's daughter was there (the back of her head is visible on the left in the photograph above) keeping us informed with small details and memories throughout the day.

As with so many good conference projects, this one was interdisciplinary and there were art installations, an excellent presentation of work by Mike Bonsall who's "Digital Ballard" project informed the recent Ben Wheatley film of "High Rise". There was also a string sextet from the Conservatoire who performed Chaikowski's "Souvenir de Florence" as a tribute to the singing plants from Ballard's short story "Prima Belladonna".

J.G. Ballard - 2

Tom is planning to make this an annual event and the next conference may well feature jewellery inspired by Ballard...

A lazy day today, with a visit from Rachel Darbourne, letting me see one of her ideas for a new piece, a hip-hop inspired pendant:

Sleepy Monkey

And me doing some stone-setitng and experimenting with taking photographs through the setting microscope:

As well as garden things, as usual:

Autumn Tropaeolum

Finally, just because I love it, the paper-works of Asya Kozina:

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