I’m a self taught jeweller working mainly in silver, opal and semi-precious stones. My studio is on 30 acres in the bush near Imbil in the Mary Valley, in the beautiful Sunshine Coast hinterland where I live with my family and an increasingly varied collection of animals. I named my workshop ‘Gecko Skin Studio’, which is a shed with a thriving colony of native geckos. Every time I move a box or piece of wood, there will be a little papery shed gecko skin, hence the name! After many years of makeshift benches and make-do set ups, I have finally found a permanent place which allows me the space to explore new methods and tools. This, combined with the inspirations I have collected and that surround me, provide the backbone of my work.
Originally from Yorkshire in the north of England, I mostly grew up around the medieval city of York, and later moved to Canterbury to study medieval history at university. Being surrounded by medieval art and architecture has been the greatest influence on my artistic outlook, and I come from a family that has always dabbled in arts and crafts. My father practised book binding and photography, and my mother was a talented embroiderer and occasional costume maker.
The design of my jewellery is hard to describe, but is a fusion of different influences, which I try to balance together to achieve my own individual style.
My interests in history, archaeology and their relation to art jewellery have led me to look for elements in old art forms that still strike a chord, that trigger a deep reaction in the modern mind and speak of ancient archetypes. Most of my pieces have a strong reflection of the past in them, some more direct, some more distant and evocative. The use of alternative materials is something that I keep coming back to in my search for a certain feel or look. Bone, slate, copper, horn and wood have all been on my list. Since moving to Australia I’ve discovered a passion for the natural resources that Australia holds, in particular the Boulder opal that is found in western Queensland.
I first started making jewellery over 20 years ago, as a hobby. In the last few years I have been developing my own style and designs and in 2015 decided to start my own small business, selling at markets and through shops and galleries.
I’m entirely self taught when it comes to Jewellery making, and I came to it after investigating several other fields of art such as painting, drawing, calligraphy and woodwork. I started out with the most basic tools and techniques and have been on a constant mission to improve my knowledge (and tool collection!) ever since. My first piece was made using no more than a chip of slate and some copper wire, with my tool kit consisting of a pair of pliers, a penknife and a nail! Starting out with a couple of books and a tendency to learn through experimentation, I have continued to develop and research in order to produce work that is my own distinctive style.
My greatest inspiration comes from my background studying history and my interest in archaeology. The period from the Bronze Age through to late medieval in Northern Europe is my favourite, taking in especially the art and metalwork of the Celtic , Anglo Saxon and Viking eras. That, combined with a love of nature and a deep admiration for the beauty of the art nouveau period, has been the backbone of my designs.
I’ve found the hardest thing about operating my own business is the distraction from actually making things, and the need to rein in my more extravagant plans in order to meet the requirements of making pieces that will sell.
For me, the best thing about having a business selling Jewellery is the opportunity to have an outlet for my creative projects. The icing on the cake is actually seeing pieces that I’ve made go off to new homes, and seeing them being worn.