On Thursday 16th July, we had the pleasure of meeting jewellery designer Ruth Tomlinson at our beautiful Islington gallery to talk about the inspiration behind her new summer collection.
GW: Hello Ruth, What would you say was the most influential time of your life?
Years of exploration and self discovery and inspiration during my gap year age of 19 traveling through Australia and SE Asia. Then returning to the UK fully charged and full of inspiration, to get creative during my BA at Manchester Metropolitan University, where I studied 3DD, wood metal ceramics and glass. Also during my MA at the RCA was a hugely inspirational time where I focused specifically on jewellery.
GW: Was there a specific mentor who had an impact on the way that you worked?
My family, my Auntie and Uncle, they are my creative inspirations and taught me to look at the world through the lens of a creative. Looking to find an alternative beauty in the world and discover its magic routed in nature.
Also my mum for for supporting me in my venture into the work of jewellery as a young teenager, she would take me to sell at various craft fairs around the country. This started my passion for designing for a purpose, to wear.
GW: Did you become a designer-maker straight after completing your studies?
Yes I knew it was my calling so I applied for an artists residency called Bishopsland, just for jewellers and silversmiths. It was set up to support fledgling graduates and give us the support we needed before entering the real word. So it gave me extra time to develop and explore, set in the very peaceful and beautiful Oxfordshire countryside.
GW: Do you have a favourite colour palette that you always work with?
My natural calling is understated muted tones and soft pastels, colours inspired by the earth and the sea. But I can also like richer tones that represent the vibrancy of the earths treasures.
GW: Do you have a favourite tool and how do you use it?
A set of bone tools passed on to me by my grandmother who used them for ceramics. They are marked by life and creativity, and inspired the start of my journey into porcelain jewellery which was my first jewellery collection “Flora”. I always feel very connected to these tools.
GW: Can you show us an object that inspired the current collection?
Blue tack in some vintage pastes that I discovered at my dad's pharmacy shop. He always had bits and bobs for sale in the family shop which faced Morecambe sea front, and some jewellery in there. It was one of the sparks of inspiration for my current style and collections, I loved the randomness and this is what I try to re-create.
GW: Could you name another artist or craftsperson whose work you admire?
I'm going to borrow a Greyson Perry quote for this from the ‘Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum, “Time is the the greatest craftsman of all”. I completely agree that man and nature and history are the best collaboration. Creating something of great authenticity, preciousness. This is why I am drawn to jewellery as the wearer can make their own history with one of our creations, they are designed to get better for age and survive the test of time.
GW: Do you have a favourite London spot to visit and take energy from?
For inspiration is has to be the museums the V&A or the Natural History Museum, both had a huge influence on my work while I was studying at the RCA just up the road.
GW: What is your design style and influences, do you draw, or experiment?
Influences for my work have been gathered over my lifetime. I always have a sketch book to note down idea and thoughts, very quick sketches. Photography has also been a way to capture my inspiration. However it's when I'm at the bench with the inspirational materials I have collected and gathered that things really come to life. In that sense, I am a designer maker, I like to experiment with materials and understand them and use them in alternative ways.
GW: And finally, if you weren't a jeweller what would you be?
I was very close to going down the ceramic route during my degree. I like the immediacy of ceramics and it humanness, the fingerprints, the marking of time, the creating of some thing unique each time. I connect with the material and will work again with it later down the line when I have time, I'm looking forward to that.
You can browse Ruth's collections here