We speak to Hothouse17 Jewellery maker Lauren Bell-Brown
Lauren makes jewellery which builds upon an understanding of traditional fairytale aesthetics, in her work she conceals dark and unexpected details, finding the Grimm Brothers a source of inspiration.
Lauren has been selected for Hothouse, the Crafts Council's Talent Development Programme for emerging makers. Find out more about Hothouse
What first got you interested in making?
From an early age, I can remember having a constant desire to make boxes. I would make them from any card or paper I could find, roughly create a net pattern, decorate them and store small objects in them, usually findings from the garden such as pretty stones, smooth twigs or petals.
What in particular drew you to jewellery?
In all honesty, I was never particularly drawn to jewellery on a conscious, creative level, although I had started wearing an eclectic mix of vintage and statement rings. It was only when my tutor and I were going through my work during my Art Foundation course that she said to me ‘Lauren, you do realise that every piece of work you design you develop into either jewellery or some form of crazy, wearable accessory? There are university courses for that!’.
Where have you shown and sold your work so far?
I have been lucky enough to have my work selected and shown at New Designers 2016, London, the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair 2016, Manchester, Lustre 2016, Nottingham and I had a Christmas solo exhibition at the Sara Preisler Gallery in Birmingham, which has since become my first stockist!
Which project are you most proud of so far and why?
Without doubt my graduate project ‘Unravelling the Fairytale’ is my greatest achievement to date. For some time I found it difficult to create work that truly reflected me and the narratives I am so fond of. This collection is the epitome of me and what I want my jewellery to represent. There are so many possibilities from the premise of this first collection, I feel I am just at the beginning, and I am incredibly excited about what’s to come.
What do you hope to get from Hothouse?
I was so delighted to be selected as a maker for the Hothouse 2017 programme! I hope to gain more confidence in my ability as a maker and a greater self-lead business understanding. Through studying alongside such a talented group of makers and learning from a selection of guest speakers and hosts, the common passion for our varied crafts and the motivational drive we have as a collective overwhelmingly encourages me. My creative goals feel achievable. Notably I am learning that there is no rushing the process, it’s one step at a time.
How important is the narrative element to the work? Do you think this is essential to your process and at what point does it fit in?
The narrative is the core of my work. Before I began making, fairy stories, traditional and non-traditional and vintage books had become an obsession of mine- the more unusual, dilapidated but decorative the better!
I love to research, so dissecting the Grimm Brothers’ stories and pulling out hidden twists and detail is such a pleasure for me, and the images they inspire reveal the process of my interpretation. My jewellery isn’t ostentatious in its portrayal of the narrative behind my work. I want the audience to explore the pieces and make their own observations- the tiny details are there to be discovered. The more they look the more I hope my own process of understanding the narrative is revealed, that then becoming what they see.
When did your fascination with fairy tales, or rather the darker elements found in them, start and how?
Fairies and fairytales have always been a big part of my life, from the magic of the tooth fairy, the fairy tree I spent hours under at my Grandparents’ house when I was a young girl, through to the intricately detailed houses I would build for them later- I was a true believer!
The darker elements of fairytales were totally unfamiliar to me until I discovered the works of the Grimm Brothers. I had a very much romanticised, Disneyfied ideal of these tales, but I quickly came to realise that these were actually a re-telling of a much darker original tale. Strangely, I prefer the latter!
You can see more work from Lauren and follow her at the Crafts Council Directory