Eleanor Christine spoke to The Harbour Gallery about her inspirations and challenges in creating her signature sculptural jewellery pieces that are so popular in the Gallery.
HG: When and how did you become an artist?
EC: I embarked on my life as a jewellery artist in 2010. I did a jewellery making course at Central Saint Martins in London and became obsessed very quickly! I continued to learn and practice with an incredibly talented goldsmith called Martin Hopton before moving to Somerset and then I did some further training with a school in Dorset called Flux ‘n’ Flame.
HG: What made you choose to work in your particular discipline?
EC: I have always loved jewellery – have always treasured it and considered it a highly skilled art. It speaks volumes about people and about history. My degree was in History and History of Art. My eyes are always drawn to the personal embellishments on portraits in the National Portrait Gallery. So, in short, jewellery design kind of chose me!
HG: Where do you find and what do you look to for inspiration?
EC: All over the place – historical portraits, tribal art, wallpaper, Roman jewellery, shells, repeated patterns, sculpture – and most especially from the materials themselves. A lot of my rings are designed around a fabulous stone that I have been drawn to.
HG: What unique style do you bring to your work?
EC: My style is bold and sculptural – my pieces demand to be worn and they need to take centre stage. All my life I have dressed around my jewellery – it will dictate my outfit! I am also all about texture and surfaces – I hate overly polished metal, and I like a piece to look “worked”, hammered, sanded, carved, or brushed.
HG: How has your style changed over the years? What influences have you had?
EC: I don’t think that I’ve been doing it long enough to have had much of a change of style, but by a process of elimination I have refined what I do and have dismissed certain methods that I don’t like (I am still highly experimental and will constantly try new things out). I have been influenced by lots of amazing jewellers and artists – 3 of my biggest influences are Alexander Calder, Henry Moore and Picasso.
HG: What do you find challenges you the most in your line of work and the materials you work with?
EC: Lots of challenges! Making jewellery is incredibly time consuming, which many people don’t appreciate. The materials are very expensive and silver especially, takes an awful lot of cleaning up and “finishing” (it tarnishes easily). I’ve learnt that there is no point trying to compete with the cheap High Street shops who sell imported, inexpensive, costume jewellery. I get most of my business from people looking for a bespoke, personal, meaningful piece of art that is specially made for them. Jewellery is a very personal thing, like any form of art, and by sticking to what I believe and what I love, I find my like-minded customer base!
As for materials – bearing in mind that I buy all my materials speculatively in the hope that I will find a buyer for my creation – it is a very expensive business. I would love to make more in gold, and use ever more valuable stones, but I have to be careful. Usually these pieces will be made to order at an agreed price.
HG: Where are you looking to take your work next?
EC: Just bigger and better – and more of it! I love my work, I love creating. I am becoming more ambitious with the boldness of my pieces – and I am also looking to incorporate more unusual stones that I am sourcing from all over the world.