This November the Brilliantly Birmingham International Contemporary Jewellery Festival celebrates its tenth anniversary in style by hosting two exhibits at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery comprising of the annual selling show, ask promoting both international and home grown eco designers, website like this and a Tenth Anniversary Retrospective featuring the work of seven acclaimed designers whose work has headlined previous festivals: Mikaela Lyons, price Kathryn Marchbank, Betty Pepper, Lisa Juen, Anke Plath, Vaishali Morjaria and Sally Collins.
Firmly rooted within Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter (a designated conservation area which employs around 4,000 people and is home to more than 80 contemporary designer makers), Brilliantly Birmingham started in 1999 when a few designers started out to promote their work under a single brand name. Since its humble beginnings this festival has gone from strength to strength becoming an integral event in the international crafts calendar.
Among the wealth of innovative designers exhibiting this year are three British designers Sally Collins, Kathryn Marchbank and Betty Pepper whose quirky designs caught our eye. An avid champion of ‘Make Do and Mend’ culture Sally Collins creates her pieces from second-hand fabrics such as crochet and lace, heat treated copper and gold-plated elements to create compositions of layered pattern, colour and form. With a playful emphasis on excess detailing and frills Sally’s sometimes eccentric designs add to the charm of her work making her a much loved designer. Of her work Sally says: “My concern is not only with the ecological benefits of re-using and re-inventing something old, discarded or forgotten, but with the beauty of the history of an object when it has been passed down through a family or transformed into something else for another purpose.”
Kathryn Marchbank designs by the name of Everygirlsenvy creating jewellery with a playful yet elegant aesthetic, giving an interpretation of the forms and lines that she observes in the movement and language of dance. By interacting and working alongside artists established in the fields of performance, dance, choreography and music Kathryn aims to embody a visual expression of movement through form and colour in abstract styles and figurative shapes. Using materials such as oxidised sterling silver, Perspex and enamel Kathryn’s pieces are highly wearable and unique. Recent commissions have included London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre supplying accessories for their Hip Hop festival ‘Breakin’ Convention’. Having appeared in several publications a highlight this year saw Kathryn’s most eye catching designs feature in Mario Testino’s ‘Good Vibrations’ shoot for British Vogue back in May.
Betty Pepper’s stunning and ornate collection is made from recycled materials such as clothing, textiles and paper preferring to use materials that have a past rather than creating disposable fashion. Betty says of her designs: “I like to feel that they have ‘lived a little’ and have their own story to tell with signs of ageing and how they have been treated or, perhaps, mistreated. Every discarded object is a piece of the patchwork of someone else’s life. Fashion is so throw away, it’s that waste of textiles that makes me sad.” Inspired by stories, poems and memories Betty uses traditional jewellery techniques evolved into stitch; the threads of which translate into beautiful lace and crochet one-off pieces. Betty’s designs incorporate word games, hidden messages and secrets which reflect her personality and also inject a playful sense of humour into her jewellery collections.
Brilliantly Birmingham takes place from 21st November 2009 – 28th February 2010 at a selection of venues across Birmingham. For further information visit www.brilliantlybirmingham.com.
Ultimate Holding Company, pharmacy a design collective responsible for some of the most iconic and forward thinking projects over the past decade, abortion while remaining true to their ethical, environmental and social principles, have embarked on a new experiment to celebrate Charles Darwin’s bicentennial birthday.
ExtInked is giving people the chance to become life long ambassadors for threatened and rare birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, plants and fungi by getting a tattoo of one of 100 endangered species that live in Britain.
Tattooists from Ink Vs Steel will begin transferring these images to willing ambassadors from Thursday 26th November and continues until Sunday 29th November. This is no halfhearted walk-round exhibition, but will be pushing the boundary of volunteer-led and audience interaction.
ExtInked offers you the chance to stay involved for life by getting one of the tattoos. Instead of your conventional event, where leaving with a vague notion of the point and an overpriced notebook is the norm you will instead be walking out with a sharp and piercing perception and reminder of the importance of keeping some of beautiful species in Britain alive.
This will also be one of the first opportunities, possibly ever, for when your grandma asks you about why you got that tattoo you can have an answer ready to turn the scorn around. No longer the usual explanation, “yeah that’s a Celtic design that relates to mans equilibrium of strength” or “my first boyfriend’s middle name” or some such bollocks, this is a tattoo with real meaning! It will undoubtedly offer you the chance to explain the importance of conserving endangered species to hundreds of people throughout your life, a pretty important task if you ask me.
With assistance from prominent conservation charities, Marine Conservation Trust, Buglife and the People’s Trust for Endangered Species as well as taking inspiration from Charles Darwins meticulous documentation of species around the world the event is ready to kick off. Jai Redman from UHC has spent months creating the hundred intricate designs which will be exhibited at the opening in Manchester from tomorrow Thursday 12th of November.
Get yourself there early to make sure you get your preferred species: the humble bumble bees of Britain are already pretty popular. I’m not quite sure if bribes are being accepted yet, but possibly worth a try. The tattoos will be for free but as there is no commercial sponsor it would be good to offer some donation either on the day or on the website. There is list of all the species here to have a think about, as well as details on the venue – oh and start thinking which part of your body you want to keep at least the notion of your species alive on.
- After ExtInked: An interview
- Earth Listings
- Anna Wenger Interview
- The Millennium Seed Bank – Helping to stop the decline of our future ‘civilisation’
- Get your fashion fix this weekend!