Sally Lees (London) Contemporary Jewellery - A love of Nature

Posted by Sally Lees on

Looking back after 20 years at Cockpit Arts I realise that I have come full circle with my work and that my true love of nature is apparent throughout.

After my foundation course I began an HND surface pattern course at Cleveland College of Art & Design which taught me how to draw very precise floral drawings and turn them into designs for textiles and wallpapers for industry.

I found the course to be constraining on my creativity and opted to transfer onto a degree course at Bradford  School of Art which was more fine art based where I could create sculptural pieces. It was closer in essence  to the fine art textiles courses I had originally been interested in after my Foundation Course.

Drawing of a plant by Sally Lees - Bradford - Circa 1990

The modules I chose were three dimensional design which included ceramics and jewellery making and textiles. The inspiration for the textiles I created during my first two years came mostly from the Yorkshire countryside with it's wealth of earthy colours. Unfortunately I have very few photographs of my work from that time as digital photography had not yet been invented! However, the drawing above is one I drew during my time in Bradford.

On the course I was able to experiement with fabrics, dying, weaving and combining them with coloured wire to make large wall hangings.

Despite moving towards figurative scuplture for my final year I eventually returned to creating surfaces with precise drawings of flowers in 2005 using aluminium. I went on a professional development course at Birmingham School of Jewellery that year to expand the range of colours of my collection of cufflinks as I was working in tianium with which only a handful of colous can be achieved.

  Kew Gardens floral drawing TFL Farringdon Brooch  Jade Vine flower from Kew Gardens

The course enabled me to use some of the techniques pioneered by Jane Adam I found the transfer print technique to be the most appropriate to decorate the work I wished to create. The technique allows the maker to resist print an image onto the surface of the aluminium. The piece of aluminium is then dip dyed and sealed. The printed picture resists the dye and you are left with the motif being the original colour of the aluminium. Unlike Jane I use polished aluminium and stylised drawings where she uses aluminium with a textured finish and uses abstract patterns.

The drawings I was creating were very precise and my training on my HND course helped me greatly! Full circle from precise stylised floral drawings to three dimaensional sculptural pieces and back to precise drawings this time on metal. A combination of all of the techniques I enjoy - playing with colours and dyes and drawing flowers!

The drawings above are working drawings from 'The Brooch is Back' exhibition in 2017 for TFL exhibited during Clerkenwell Design Week. See some element of the collection here.

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