With ‘The Ark of Suburbia’ – our new exhibition of Susan Horth’s incredible sculptured creatures – starting this Saturday (7th September) at iapetus gallery we thought we’d share a recent interview we did with her.
Q: Could you describe the process of making your magical creatures?
First I make an armature in the shape of the creature, then I build up the mass with very coarse metal mesh. Then the fun bit begins – I start to stitch and bead.
Q: How did you start developing your technique – were you inspired by something or someone?
I don’t really have what could be described as a recognised technique, my working process has evolved over time. I started out just using wire beads, a pair of pliers and side cutters, and over the years I started to introduce other materials to the mix. I still only use the pliers and cutters. I suppose I just stitch, bind, cut and bead layer upon layer until I achieve the surface I am looking for.
Q: Your pieces are very intricate and detailed, they seem as though they must take many, many hours to make. How much time do you spend making each one?
It’s hard to say how much time I spend on individual pieces I work on several items at a time. Sometimes I find it hard to say ‘this piece is now finished’! I can always do a bit more work. But as I need to make a living, I have to stop! So in principle I would say that a small bug pin would take a hour to make, but in reality it might take a lot longer.
Q:What materials do you use to get the detail on the animal pieces?
Coloured wire, metal mesh, laminated papers, semi precious stones, glass and crystal beads
Q: Looking at your work, it feels like you really love the animal world. Is this a fascination you’ve always had?
I have always loved the outside world – plants, animals and insects. As a child I disliked sport so much that would distract myself from the boredom of it all by looking for the wild plants and small creatures in the grass of the playing fields, and in fact I I still do this! I am always on the lookout for the weed pushing its way up though the pavement or the mice scurrying around in the undergrowth. Evidence that nature is hanging on and fighting back.
Q: Do you work from pictures to recreate the shapes and movements of the creatures, or from real-life observation?
Often the outline of a movement suggests the characteristics of an animal. I spend a lot of time just looking. Sometimes I will make a sketch, but mostly I surround myself with reference books. It’s not about making a exact copy of the creature – I want to try to capture the feeling of the beast.
Q: We get quite attached to your pieces and sometimes find it hard to say goodbye when they find a new home…do you find it hard to part with them after having spent so long making them?
I do get attached to certain pieces, but sending the work out is all part of the process and it’s always good to start again.
Q: The flying owl is just extraordinary – could you tell us a little about him?
An owl had to be my centrepiece for this collection. I have known the garden that inspires this work all my life, as a child I found a dead barn owl, its wings neatly folded like a ornithology specimen. It had fallen to the ground under a sycamore tree it was the most beautiful, perfect thing I had ever seen. Since that day I have never again seen evidence of barn owls in the neighbourhood. It may have been the last one. But sometimes I hear little owls and tawny owls and on occasions I will see the tawny owl in the same sycamore tree. I see him as a spirit of place.
Susan’s exhibition runs from Saturday 7th September to Saturday 28th September exclusively at iapetus gallery and iapetus.co.uk. It really should not be missed. You can see all of Susan’s work at iapetus.co.uk/susan-horth.
A flurry of excitement is happening at iapetus this week as we’ve just opened some tantalising boxes from artist Susan Horth, who has sent us some preview pieces for her exhibition, The Ark of Suburbia, coming up on 7 – 28 September.
Followers of our blog are getting the first peek at some of the exhibition pieces created by Susan ahead of the event. And what better place to start than with the centrepiece of our exhibition and one of Susan’s most extraordinary pieces, the flying owl, below.
Using fine knitted wire, beads and other mixed media, Susan creates each work by hand – representing in stunning detail the movement and beauty of creatures both magnificent and minuscule. They really have to be seen in the flesh to be truly appreciated, so do come along to the exhibition from 7 September to see all the pieces in their full glory.
Also in our exciting delivery was this standing fox. His beautiful colours and shape, and his alert posture, have completely charmed us.
That’s a small taster of what’s to come at The Ark of Suburbia exhibition next month, and there will be many more creatures to delight and fascinate you when you arrive. If you’re as excited as we are, and want to keep in touch with exhibition news and updates, as well as more sneak previews, do follow us on twitter (on the right), and you’ll find exclusive pictures of pieces from the collection on pinterest.
The Ark of Suburbia is part of Herefordshire Art Week, including the Arts Trail, where you can visit galleries and open studios around the county. Collect your full Trail Guide from iapetus gallery, and you can visit h.Art online for more information.
When we chose Linda Bloomfield’s porcelain tableware for iapetus gallery we were attracted by the simple style and clean lines of the pieces and her use of subtle colour and texture. Evidently we were not alone in finding Linda’s work so beautiful, because she was recently commissioned by the Royal Albert Hall, London to create over 300 pieces for their new café bar, Door 21.
Visitors to the new café will take their refreshments on the delightfully-tactile pieces with satin matt glaze on the outside and gentle, glossy colours inside. We can’t think of a more pleasurable way to spend an afternoon than to scoff cakes and drink tea from such gorgeous receptacles.
Next time you’re in London, why not stop by the Royal Albert Hall and see for yourself? And you can recreate the experience at home with our own range of Linda’s mugs, cake plates, jugs, tea pots and pouring bowls for your own taste of tea time elegance.
Tags: crystals, gems, gemstones, jewellery, meanings, minerals, rings
You might have heard of traditional or spiritual meanings attached to the many different gemstones used in jewellery. As well as adding beautiful colour, some stones are associated with luck, wealth or happiness, and some are thought to have particular healing benefits. Whether you’re a believer in gemstones’ mystical properties or not, it’s fun to find out what they are, and you could be surprised by the extra benefits your favourite ring, necklace or earrings might bring…
Amethyst is said to calm the mind and aid inspiration and intuition. It’s reputed to have a positive influence on the immune system and to help ease addictions.
This pale blue stone is associated with calmness and serenity and is often used to assist meditation. Many believe it protects sailors at sea and even prevents seasickness!
A bright yellow gemstone that brings cheer and happiness. Citrine is traditionally believed to attract wealth and abundance and to help you focus mentally.
Not just a girl’s best friend but a boy’s too – diamonds are said to be powerfully healing and were used by the ancients to detoxify and protect the body from poisons.
The stone of unconditional love, a deep green emerald will lift depression and help you feel balanced and patient.
The rich red garnet is associated with the blood, and is believed to stimulate passion and devotion as well as physical vitality.
This gentle, cloudy gemstone is known as a ‘mother earth’ stone, balancing the emotions and strengthening fertility.
The lovely rainbow tones in an opal are not its only attraction. It’s also meant to help eyesight, balance and intuition.
This zesty green stone is a pick-me-up for tiredness and lethargy, and is said to open up new opportunities.
Reputed to assist psychic connections, sapphires are associated with peace and happiness.
Topaz is reputed to be an ‘antidote to the 21st century’: detoxifying the body and providing a peaceful, tranquilising effect.
Tourmaline comes in a variety of colours and is thought to dispel fear and negativity, and build self-confidence.
Said to protect against insomnia and depression, zircon comes in many different colours and has traditionally been used to promote wisdom and spiritual growth.
So next time you buy a beautiful piece of gemstone jewellery from iapetus, you will know a bit more about its special properties as well, of course, as looking fabulous.
Tags: art, artist, geraldine murphy, handmade, interview, jewellery, saba jewellery
Have you ever wondered what’s behind the creative work of your favourite jewellery designers and artists? How do they come up with their designs? Where do they look for inspiration, and who do they imagine wearing the finished pieces? Well, we have been quizzing some of our designers to find out the answers to these burning questions. This month, it’s Dublin-based jeweller Geraldine Murphy’s turn in the hot seat.
Geraldine’s Saba Jewellery designs were added to iapetus gallery’s collection earlier this year. Her enamelled copper necklaces and earrings are full of colour and movement, based on a delightful array of animals such as hares, owls and otters. Most recently, we have added a selection of Geraldine’s original wall art that translates the same love of animals in action into larger, framed art pieces. It’s intriguing, wonderful work and we couldn’t wait to dig deeper into its creator’s inspirations.
Q: Tell us a bit about what drew you to jewellery design?
A. Hmm, I remember working at an advertising agency in San Francisco and one of the girls showed me a ring that she had made at a night class and I was so impressed! Although it was a good five or six years later that I decided to try it for myself.
I worked in classical animation for a few years, drawing and doing colour, and while I found it interesting to work with so many artistic people (one of the films I worked on won a BAFTA in 2002 – I wish I could take some credit but I was way down in the pecking order!), I found that there was something missing; it turns out that it was making something solid that you could actually hold in your hand. When I started a jewellery night course I finally felt like I had found what I was looking for. That’s why I think people should do as many different classes and courses as they can if they feel that there is something artistic out there that they’re searching for.
I did a one-day blacksmithing class about two years ago, thinking that I would love it and would be good at it – bearing in mind the years of experience I had in working with metal. But I wasn’t good, and I just hated it! It was a lesson though – I didnt consider it a waste of time, just something that I ticked off my list.
Q. Do you have a particular sort of person in mind when designing your pieces?
A. No, never, I only design what I like and from subject matter that inspires and interests me. My perspective is that design needs to have genuine integrity and meaning. If it does then it will speak to a person whether they are a trendy 18-year-old or a middle-aged woman who has spent her life gardening and appreciating birds and animals. The thing about choice in jewellery is that it is hugely personal and private – but at the same time, when the choice is made and the piece is worn, it is right out there for everyone to see. Like me, lots of people love animals and colour; that’s personal, and tells the world that that’s what you love. When someone chooses to wear one of my pieces I think they are consciously or subconsciously making a statement about that.
The only concession that I make when designing is to do with size and comfort. If it is uncomfortable or catches in things then people won’t wear it.
Q. What other artists/designers do you admire?
A. There are two American textile designers whose work I love. They are called Dermond Peterson. Incredible use of colour and stencils which I really admire. And Diane Komater from San Francisco, who does wire art. I did a one-day course with her years ago and she is such a nice person as well. As for artists, I love Modigliani, Frida Kahlo, Egon Schiele.
Q. Which are your personal favourite pieces?
A. I think my favourite designs are the Fox and Crow necklace and the wall hanging of the labrador jumping into water.
Q. What is the most difficult part of the process?
A. Designing, without doubt – that’s the really hard part. Although I recently learned to use Adobe Illustrator, which has saved me a huge amount of work. I still do everything with a pencil and paper first but being able to resize it and make small changes without having to redraw it and trace it again is great. It is quite labour-intensive to get the colours right with enamel: it can be very unpredictable. The Kingfisher Necklace for example, I probably did about 15 different colour tests to get that one right. I really love enamelling and I also love cutting out by hand the prototypes from silver or copper and finding that the finished piece really works.
Q. What would you be doing for a living if you weren’t a jeweller?
A. That’s a good question. Hmm, I can’t really imagine. I would probably still be working in animation. It’s really taken off in Ireland in the last 10 years and some Irish animation studios have won Oscars and BAFTAs for their films. Back when I worked in animation as soon as the film was over you were unemployed. Now people have salaried jobs and from what I can see there are films constantly being made.
Q. What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not designing/making?
A. Well, I have gotten into gardening in a big way recently. I’ve started growing vegetables, and I love it! I’m hoping to be nearly self-sufficient in vegetables within a year or two (it could be a bit of a lofty notion but I”ll try). I also love mooching around with my dogs, both rescue lurchers. I spend time socialising with friends and I spend time with my family. But I have to say, when you work for yourself you tend to work all the time in one form or another…it is difficult to pull yourself away.
What would you like to ask your favourite artist? Let us know by posting a comment below or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter. You could see your question appear in our next artist interview!
Tags: birds, exhibition, handmade, insects, jewellery, sculpture, susan horth, wildlife
One of our most sought-after artists, Susan Horth, is visiting iapetus gallery this September with an exhibition of jewellery and sculpture that celebrates the natural beauty of British wildlife. The exhibition, titled The Ark of Suburbia, will focus on the extraordinary and intricately-detailed birds, insects and animals that Susan makes with fine knitted wire and beads. Both those familiar with Susan’s diminutive, bejewelled creations and newcomers to her work will be truly enchanted.
The inspiration for the exhibition is Susan’s own garden – her ‘small Eden’ that attracts all sorts of wildlife. ‘This collection is about my love for a place on the edge of change,’ says Susan, ‘It’s a garden I have known since childhood, which was once well-tended and now gone wild. It’s a space that resounds with the song of birds, and represents all city and town gardens: small refuges of wild things.’
Mice, foxes, birds, insects and butterflies are among the familiar creatures captured in Susan’s lifelike work. Each seems to be caught mid-movement – alighting on a branch or curling up for sleep. The delicate wirework and tiny, colourful beading highlight the preciousness of these everyday animals.
The exhibition will open on Saturday 7 September 2013 at iapetus gallery and online at iapetus.co.uk, as part of Herefordshire Art Week, 7 to 15 September 2013. Don’t miss this chance to view and buy one-off creations from this unique collection.
About Susan Horth
Susan’s training is in three-dimensional design, and since completing her degree she has designed and made collections of mixed media jewellery and small objects, inspired by her interest in surface decoration and animal imagery. Susan’s work has been seen at Bergdorf Goodman in New York and she was recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Nick Hubbard‘s work has been a best-seller at iapetus ever since we began selling it six years ago. That’s because it’s among the most original, creative and quirky jewellery you can find – plus Nick’s pieces have that extra special something that’s difficult to put into words but that seems to come only from those artists who work with their hearts as well as their hands. Nick’s work is amazing in its detail and intricacy; a figurative collection of oxidized silver pieces and charms bearing words and messages. Many lockets, brooches and rings have moving parts and small doors that open to reveal fine gold detail. It’s no wonder that Nick’s following of devoted fans is growing all the time.
We wanted to dig a little deeper into Nick Hubbard’s world, so we invited him to have a chat with us about his inspirations, background and passions. Read the whole interview below.
Q: Tell us a bit about what drew you to jewellery-making.
A: As a young boy I had a love of handwriting, which when it came to choosing a possible career led me to hand-engraving at the school of jewellery. Beforehand I’d had no conception of the jewellery trade, and when I arrived there I discovered a whole world of jewellery and silversmithing.
Q: Do you have a particular sort of wearer in mind when designing your pieces?
A: Possibly somebody of good humour who might like the simple pleasures of life, not necessary a specific person but more of an attitude or feeling about the world.
Q: What other artists/designers do you admire?
A: Paul Preston, Pete Blake, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fragonard.
Q: What is your personal favourite piece from your collections?
A: The In a Magical World locket.
Q: What is the most difficult part of the jewellery-making process?
A: Getting new ideas finished in time.
Q: What was the worst job you did before becoming a jewellery designer?
A: Working on a rose farm – going along behind the man that put a small bud variety on the rose stem and I had to fix a small plastic cover over each one. I spent days on my hands and knees, going up and down a field.
Q: What would you be doing for a living if you weren’t a jewellery designer?
A: Dog-sitting or caring for humans.
Q: What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not designing/making?
Sitting at home reading with Jean (Nick’s wife) and the wee dogs, or cutting up small squares of paper for collage pictures.
If this has whetted your appetite and you’d like to explore the whole range of Nick’s magical work, visit his page at iapetus.co.uk.
Our latest artist to join us here at iapetus is Geraldine Murphy of Saba Jewellery, who makes gorgeous, bold necklaces inspired by our animal friends.
We’ve already had a brilliant reaction to the new pieces – animal-lovers in particular have been charmed by the original, colourful designs that include hares, kingfishers, foxes and more.
Geraldine says she’s inspired by ‘animals in action’ and that she aims to make her jewellery uplifting. With these gorgeous characters it’s difficult not to be cheered by her fab designs. Find the whole range here at iapetus.co.uk.
We recently packed up several cars with our newest stock, just about managed to shut the doors and drove down to the Cotswolds to take some fabulous pictures.
In a lakeside house just outside Cirencester, we set up a series of lifestyle scenes for our lovely photographer, Andy Hockridge, to capture with his camera. The house sat right on the water, with floor-to-ceiling windows, so it was ideal for showing our products in natural light and a contemporary setting. We wanted bright, decadent pictures with lots of colour – and we hope you agree we achieved it!
It may not have been Summer, but we were determined to create a warm and sunny feeling! Not difficult to do, with all the glorious textures and rich colours in the throws, glassware, cushions and lighting we’d brought.
So there you have a sneak peek at the results of our photoshoot – and keep your eyes peeled at the newsagent’s, because some of our shots have already been earmarked for features in House Beautiful, My Weekly, Ideal Home and Cloth over the coming months…
This Spring, we’re putting together a number of cunning plans to support Plan UK, a brilliant charity who help children in the world’s poorest countries to move from a life of poverty towards a future with opportunity.
First up is our gorgeous selection of gifts, 10% of the sale price of which is going straight to Plan. You can see all the gifts here, and when you shop from this range you know you’re not only treating someone (or yourself) to something fab, you’re also making a difference.
We’ve also put together a fabulous Pamper Hamper worth over £60, which could be yours if you enter our raffle. Just pop in to the gallery any time before Easter and buy your tickets at 50p each, then keep your fingers crossed! All proceeds will go to Plan and the draw will take place on 2nd April 2013.
As part of this initiative, we’re also sponsoring Matilda, who is 6 and lives in East Timor. We’re looking forward to getting to know her through her letters. To find out more about child sponsorship with Plan, visit their website.