Friday, 28 February 2014

Nightingales and other voices


Wren

My first craft stall was at a plant fair at Wimpole Hall in 2002. I had a tiny trestle table amongst the pots of campanula and dahlias. Some of my pieces were made from gems and beads from my own jewellery that I'd taken apart and reworked. To my huge surprise I sold 15 necklaces in a couple of hours. It was the start of something.

Since then I've had small collections in several galleries in East Anglia, participated in Cambridge Open Studios and organised sales of handmade goods. I had never showed my work in a public venue though. I always thought it was something that 'proper' artists did (the ones with art degrees). I wasn't even sure how to go about holding an exhibition. Wait to be invited? Ring the venue? Just walk in, lay out my jewellery and put up a sign outside? Maybe not.




Nightingale, long-tailed tit

Last year I was invited to the preview of an exhibition by Natasha Newton. You may know her work - exquisitely painted stones, soothing starscapes, landscapes and charismatic birds. It was to be held at Snape Maltings, a place I know well. It's a series of truly lovely shops and cafes in converted barns and oasthouses on the edge of the river Alde in Suffolk. I snooped about on the Snape Maltings website and realised that they had a small building, called The Workshop, next to the river that used to be used by the RSPB and could be hired for exhibitions.

Robin's nest, robin

For some years I've wanted to make a series of necklaces of individual bird species, particularly British songbirds. This was my starting point - you may remember it - a recording I made of a nightingale singing in our village wood in 2009.




I wondered whether another artist may want to show their work with me. I drove to Rutland to drink some tea with Angela Harding. Angela's linocut prints are of garden and coastal birds and she provides seasonal illustrations for BBC Countryfile magazine and Gardens Illustrated.

I love the charisma of her birds and the detail of the plants they sit in and the background scenes. To my delight she was keen to co-exhibit.

We decided that our show would be called 'Nightingales and other voices'.



Over the first weekend of the Easter holidays (April 4th-6th) Angela and I will show our current work in the Snape Maltings Workshop. The exhibition will celebrate the return of Spring through tiny wearable silver versions and prints of our best loved songbirds. We hope to capture the thrill of spotting an oystercatcher on the shore or hearing a wren singing in a hedgerow.

We'll be encouraging visitors to walk into a wood, up a path or stand near a hedge and listen to birdsong. I'll be making a series of silver birdsongs' nests in necklace form, including that of a robin, long-tailed tit and blackbird.

You can find out more about the show here.



Blackbird, Angela's new print: nightingale

Angela and I will also be holding vinyl block printing and silver clay workshops in the two days following our show. The images on the left below are of Spring-inspired pieces made by beginners in some of my previous workshops. On the right are Angela's hands carving one of her blocks.

You can find the workshop details here and here if you'd like to come along.





Just a few weeks after the exhibition, nightingales will return to Britain. Every year they edge closer to being on the endangered list due to loss of their preferred habitat of dense woodland, so it is a huge privilege to hear them singing. A few of them will be in Walberswick woods and a several other sites near Snape. I plan to take a picnic rug, lantern (and perhaps some wine) and go and listen to them.

21 comments:

Iz said...

These necklaces are beautiful, what a lovely idea. I hope the exhibition goes well!

CJ said...

I really love the bird necklaces, absolutely beautiful. I hope the exhibition is a success.

therollodog said...

Congratulations on finding a venue and a gorgeous theme! The birds are beautiful. I love the nightingale, and the wren especially. Much success to you both!

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish I lived closer, it all sounds so wonderful!
Alice Auperin

Rachel said...

I hope it's a great success. And don't let the lack of an art degree hold you back any longer. Your work is delightful, and being wearable, easier to find space for than a large canvas!

Locket Pocket said...

How exciting! I wish I could come - I bet it will be a huge success xx

saffa said...

This sounds like it will be a wonderful exhibition emma :) I wish you and Angela loads of luck with it. Your silver birds are wonderful and I love Angela's block prints, they really look good together too. I wish I could come and see your exhibition, I'm sure it would inspire some of the drawings I'm making at the mo (of pebble, wood and other natural surfaces) lots of luck to you both, safxxx

Louise said...

This sounds like the perfect setting for your first exhibition,I wish you both the best of luck :-)

Alison Hullyer said...

Sounds like a great exhibition Emma, big fan of Angela's work too. If you have a mailing list, could you add me please to remind me of the dates. Thanks, Alison

Frances said...

Emma, you and Angela definitely have sensibilities that mesh so well in showing your work together. I am sure that your exhibit and workshops are going to be very well received.

How I wish that I could visit all these! Every time that have another glimpse of that silver nest with its enameled eggs, I know that some day I must have one of my own. (I know that you are a busy lady, and don't even know if you are making more of these nests, but I just wanted you to know how much I love that particular design. Of course, now that I've had a close up view of these birds...I have even more to admire.)

xo

driftwood said...

it sounds truly fabulous Emma! x

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I'm green with envy reading this ... envy because Suffolk - my favourite place, a place where I hope eventually to live - is still out of reach; and envy because some lucky people will get to take part in the workshops but they're rather too far away for me!

Wishing you luck, and feeling sure that the whole thing will be a roaring success x

Gina said...

What stunning work from both of you. Just beautiful!

Caroline South said...

That sounds like it will be a wonderful exhibition. I wish I could come and to your workshops too - they sound brilliant! Hope it goes well. xx

Biba said...

The bird pendants are gorgeous! Will they be available for purchase on Etsy at any point? Sooo pretty!

Cate said...

Oooh, how exciting, congratulations on the exhibition! Your pieces and Angela's prints are gorgeous so i'm sure the exhibition will go down a storm! x

Bijuterii said...

Lol, very funny. The jewelry is awesome!

Thimbleanna said...

This looks so wonderful Emma -- I so wish I could be there. As you know...I've always loved your little birds!!!

The Coffee Lady said...

All the very best for this, you little blardy genius.

JadeJewellery said...

The pendants are lovely and nothing is a beautiful as nature so any jewellery design that has been inspired by nature is going to be beautiful. I love the the pendants with the inprints and the flower earrings are charming. You have created a lovely collection of handmade jewellery

Jackie said...

Oh how beautiful. I know it will be a huge success. As for the flower hat..it has to be sweet peas every time.(But don't put me in the draw as I already have the lovely seed head and it wouldn't be fair. But I do think the cornflower is exquisite)