Silver Blood

Santiago de Compostela. One of the many shopping streets replete with tiny shops selling silver.
Santiago de Compostela. One of the many shopping streets replete with tiny shops selling silver.

With Celtic Silver and artistry running through my veins and in all genealogical directions, I suppose it was inevitable that I would find myself in amongst the crowds of Pilgrims gathered upon the Praza das Praterías in Santiago de Compostela in 1999, marvelling at the multitudes of tiny shops selling silver not fully comprehending how steeped my own cultural heritage was in the ancient and symbolic art of silversmithing and jewellery-making. But like my ‘chance’ happening on the  beautiful medieval city of Santiago de Compostela the first time around, I became a Silversmith by ‘chance’ some years after that fated journey. It never occurred to me that the two events might be connected. I had never made jewellery before, nor even considered the art of Silversmithing before undertaking an OCN in Silversmithing and Jewellery Design at Northbrook College on a whim after replying to an ad in the local paper. I then went on to do a City & Guilds in Silversmithing and 3D design, and I found that I was surprisingly comfortable with my new found skills, strangely confident too, finding a real sense of both satisfaction and excitement in forging silver; making intricate chains and confounding my tutor with complex designs that appeared to defy logic. I have always loved the beauty and intricacy of Celtic, Scandinavian and Arab knot-work, so naturally many of those flowing and highly detailed elements have found their way into my own work.

Sterlling Silver Fretwork with heat-coloured copper leaves.
Sterlling Silver Fretwork with heat-coloured copper leaves.

My love of designing and making jewellery is a late development compared to my love of art and being an artist which I have been all my life from the moment I could hold a pencil and a paintbrush. However I have found that both passions are mutually translatable. For me the many variations of beads and metals available in terms of colour, texture, and form have become the medium with which I compose my pieces of ‘wearable artwork’ or ‘Fashion-Art’ as I call it.

I have found that my approach to making jewellery is much the same as my approach to creating a painting, or a sculpture. Choosing the right colour pallet is very important to me and integral in the overall composition of a piece. Form, texture and style are equally important, providing structure and a foundation from which the story of the piece emerges. Only when I am completely satisfied with a piece of jewellery, however simple it may be will I then consider it for sale. It is my intent that each piece is designed for and is meant to be enjoyed by someone in particular, as a piece of art would be. Who that person is is part of the mystery and fuels my inspiration for creating new pieces.

I am so ridiculously proud of my Galician-Spanish roots and all that it implies, that it almost seems ludicrous to me that such an intense sense of belonging has arisen from what was a mysterious black hole in my family history up until very recently when I found myself in Praza das Praterías for the second time in the summer of 2011, completely unrelated to my first visit. I realise now how this series of ‘chance’ encounters interconnect, like an intricate piece of Celtic knot-work that has no beginning or end, and within which I am still discovering new connections. I am eternally grateful that it has led me to discover that at least for me silver is even thicker than blood!

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