Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Designer: Hannah Bedford

Hannah Bedford is one young British jewellery designer to keep an eye on. Now, I know that sounds like a conclusion almost, like I'm writing the end of this piece at the beginning, but trust me - this gal will go places!

Like Sarah Herroit, I met Hannah Bedford at Desire a few months back; she was bright, funny and so relaxed that I was sold within seconds. Her jewellery, however, needed no introduction; simple organic forms in gold and silver, each lovingly crafted to the highest spec. Feeling that I couldn't miss out, Hannah answered a few of my questions, offering a fabulous insight into her designs, her making and her future plans.

K: Hannah, tell me a little about how you got into jewellery designing and making...

H: When I was studying Art foundation I had a part time job in a contemporary craft gallery called the Jelly Legg’d Chicken in Reading. They had a mixed crafts gallery, with artist’s studios above the shop. I had always been fascinated by the handmade jewellery and would visit the jewellers in their studios. I was really inspired by their work and liked the fact that their job was both creative and skills based. Then, in 2001 I got accepted to study Jewellery & Silversmithing at Birmingham School of Jewellery. I went with absolutely no metal work skills … so it was all a bit of a shock!!

K: Your resulting collections are superb - and unusual; what has been the inspiration behind them?

H: My work is influenced by my interest in natural forms and growth. I take inspiration from textures, shapes and forms found in seeds, shells and fungi. I love the idea of things that are partially concealed – looking underneath leaves to discover clusters of lichen, for example. Hidden and concealed elements are incorporated in my Granule collection. I also like to explore the growth and interlocking of elements in my jewellery – clusters of granules creep and entwine about the pieces.
K: It was the granule collection which really caught my eye at Desire. You mentioned that you use some traditional silver and goldsmithing methods in your work - do you find these bring something extra special to each piece?

H: I like to explore with the technical procedures I use – fusing and granulation. I feel that these input into my creative inspiration and often I am led by my exploration of a technique as much as my creative stimulus. I relish that these techniques enable me to work closely and directly with each piece – I think it feeds the control freak side of me! I also feel that by employing these techniques inevitably each piece I make is unique.
K: Of course, as each will differ in how it has been crafted. Like me, you're London-based; how do you find designing and working in London, especially at your studio in Deptford's Cockpit Arts?

H: Since I moved to London I've noticed a really positive effect on my business. Being part of recognised studios such as Cockpit has enabled me to raise my profile and meet fantastic clients. Sometime we have open studio days which are fantastic events. I also enjoy the support and interaction from the other makers. There is so much happening in London for jewellers right now that I feel it is crucial for me to be here as I begin to establish my name.

K: Absolutely, I feel contemporary jewellery design is really shaking things up; it feels as though the 'big names' are on their way out. On that note, what's been the most exciting part of your jewellery designing and making career so far?

H: There have been many exciting parts, I have had some fabulous commission work, which has enabled me to work in larger quantities of gold and platinum - always a treat! Also I have found building the business and seeing it grow - both in terms of sales, publicity, and the work I produce - really exciting.
K: I guess things can only get better and better! So 2009 and beyond: have you any big plans for Hannah Bedford Jewellery?

H: Yes there's lots going on! This year I will be exhibiting at Origin for the first time, which is really exciting. I will also be exhibiting a new body of work developing from the granule collection. In a few weeks I will be exhibiting at Bovey Tracey Contemporary Craft Fair and the next Cockpit Open Studios, both of which I am really looking forward to!

It's great to see Hannah establishing a name for (literally!) herself. From her base at Cockpit Arts - which even Vogue has dubbed 'a notorious hotbed of emerging talent' - Hannah no doubt has a great future ahead. If you want to see more, head to next month's Deptford Open Studio or if Devon's more up your street, you can meet Hannah at the Bovey Tracey Contemporary Craft Fair.

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