Belinda Norrington – Jewellery

I am  lucky enough to live on the edge of a nature reserve, replete with river, water meadows, small wooded areas, all of which border an open network of fields, footpaths and ancient drovers’ paths. It is this landscape that is the primary inspiration of my work – both the huge open spaces and skies but also, perhaps even more, the minutiae. It is often small finds and fragments of botanical material, perhaps leaves, bark, acorns, seedpods or twigs, that provide me with the patterns, textures and organic forms that inform my work. I love the intricacy of natural patterns, I am amazed by the innate balance and tactility of form and texture in botanical material, and I find myself strangely but happily compelled to translate and explore these things in metal and gemstones!

I keep the flow of creativity by walking and exploring. It is as simple as that. By walking, the eye has enough time to take in the natural world. For me, the physical action of walking seems to calm the mind to a point where one is more open to creative opportunity and heightened observation. Look at the way a child explores a wood, it is that act of engagement and openness to the environment that is the catalyst to new ideas for me. I collect botanic material and bring it back to my studio, (always collecting/picking responsibly). Often, and especially in the summer when it is warmer and dryer (hopefully!), I take a sketchbook with me and draw pieces that I don’t want to, or cannot, take home with me or sometimes just to make me look at it closer in situ. With the material I bring home, I usually photograph it, press it, sketch it or add it to collections I have in jugs to simply observe further. I like to use this natural material to emboss shapes and patterns onto sheet metal using my jeweller’s rolling mill, or occasionally I will have individual items cast using the lost wax method.

My kind of work with no inspiration energising it is dry manufacture. The initial design process all hinges on inspiration and exploration but work flowing from that inspiration gets it out into the world! And some ‘work’ feels more creative and closer to the source of inspiration, whilst other aspects are less interesting to do, but necessary. There is some dull graft in all work and it is the grit to the oyster I tell myself when I am doing my tax return!

If I ever do feel a lull in ideas, it’s back to walking, exploring and sketching. Also trawling the ever wonderful V and A and Natural History Museum! Forcing it is hopeless, but turning up each day ready to observe, take keen notice, be open and keep trying is key. When inspiration for design is low, do all the boring stuff that needs to get done anyway!

I have always enjoyed art and creating things but was at a school that treated it as a bit of an indulgence or not for the academically-minded. I had to find the confidence to refute that utterly.

Being an artist has taught me that there is beauty in the smallest thing, the tiniest fragment can hold a universe in it, (think of the golden ratio in a floret), and this has informed my life enormously. I have begun embracing the life changing fact that the small things in life will often turn out to be the big things, so don’t be in such a hurry that you miss them. Observation of beauty, it turns out, seems to be a key to contentment. Also, to be ‘in the flow’ creatively necessitates being fully in the moment and that feels like a triumph in this speed obsessed, multi-task orientated world. Being fully in the moment, not fussing over the past or future is a huge stress/anxiety reducer.

I have pieces that I repeat which I sell on my website, but I also do one-off pieces and bespoke commission work. I don’t see a conflict in doing both.

I sell and market my work via my own website and through social media. I also sell through several online and bricks and mortar galleries who promote my work via their chosen means. I also hold Private Views twice a year and participate in a few craft fairs and pop up events. If money was no object I would probably hire an agent to take over certain aspects of promotion, PR and sales to leave me more time to design and create.

I think in this increasingly high tech society there is an increasing market for ‘high touch’ handmade goods and works of art. It connects pieces we use, wear or have to decorate our living spaces, with real people, their vision and interpretation of the world, with a provenance and the pulse of human creativity. How new technologies and ancient skills will entwine in the world of art and craft is an interesting issue.

As an artist, I would love to find a kind and generous goldsmith who would be willing to mentor me and teach me new skills affordably! I am also committed to finding the lowest carbon footprint for my work and the most ethical supply chains I can.

I love porcelain and would be interested to learn some ceramics skills and perhaps bring it together with the jewellery making.

I have a studio in my home which is both incredibly practical at the moment and also problematic with all my hectic family life going on around me! I am developing the ability to zone in really well to the task in hand but one day would like an away from home studio I think.


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