ARTISTS / DAVID NEALE
Your works come across as quite humble. I was immediately struck by your brooch 'rye bread'. Do you primarily draw from everyday life as inspiration, or what are your other influences present in the work? I guess a lot of jewellery is about glamour. But there is so much glamorous jewellery that we stop seeing it after a while- it sort of dies. So I try to find other ways to make my jewellery distinctive and precious. Rye bread is not glamourous. But it is precious- and jewellery is about holding precious ideas. That is something that often happens in my jewellery, I try to think of something that is 'nothing', like a pine needle for example, just two little stalks among millions... but that somehow is 'much'- or important, if you think about it. Just a simple thing that makes up a whole tree. I call this 'nothing/much'.
Your current exhibition includes jewellery and a sculptural installation. Is this a shift in your practice and how did it come about? Jewellers naturally tend toward the small-scale. So big objects are a new beast. I think actually many of my brooches have been wanting to grow, so I'm excited about making more wall hangings.
You work across a diverse range of materials - is there one that is your favourite and if so why? I love gold. It is astonishing to me, still. It behaves as if it really wants to become anything you ask! Gold is like a friend! And so beautiful. A beautiful friend. ( I do have plenty of actual friends, please dont worry about me)
'Stamping' is an important element of your work, does this reference the more traditional hallmarking found on precious metals? And how did you come to be working this way? Stamping is new to me, in 20 years of jewellery-making, I never even had a maker's mark, and everything I made was one-off. Then I got a lung injury, and needed to minimise particles and fumes in my work practice. This leads me to stamping- where no metal is removed- its just pushed. Stamped jewellery has a bit of a 'mumsy' reputation, but I'm really keen to take it somewhere interesting- I love ancient coins and Navajo silver, which feature distinctive stamping. Japanese printmaking is also a bit of a beacon for me, because very often these images are so lively, in spite of being put through many processes, like carving, multiple block separation and then printed en masse. Maybe stamped jewellery could have a similar rigour? The immediacy of stamping is fascinating too- you only get one go, and thats it. If its wrong you cant fix it.
Can you tell us about any future plans you have for new work? Apart from stamping ideas, currently I am working on a series of hair combs- that you would want to carry in your pocket. Cutting all those teeth is a bit of a challenge- I love that it is such a functional object, this really constrains the design. I have also heard that diamonds work well with gold, so I'll have to explore that too.