It is 24 years since Jessica Briggs first struck metal with a hammer at a Jewellery/Silversmithing evening class in Sheffield. This was Jessica's 'eureka' moment which led to the setting up and running of her successful jewelry business.
This exhibition gives the artist an opportunity to show her making career through key past pieces to new work, whilst placing them in the wider context of influences and methodologies.
From Jessica's drawing days as a Manchester ‘Textiles’ student, through early recycled and daisy pieces, recurrent themes emerge as her skill base broadens. The MA work shows a departure from more accessible/commercial jewellery and it is during this course that Jessica first introduces her Type 1 Diabetes as an expressive theme.
The intricacies of having to manage this disease form the age of 13 provided the artist with a rich seam to explore and interpret. These pieces are 3 dimensional drawings in wire.
Whilst studying for an MA in Metalwork and Jewellery at SHU, Jessica began using the rolling mill to texture and pattern silver sheet. Sharing the studio space was a visiting Korean tutor who introduced the artist to the ancient Korean technique of fusing gold to silver known as kuem-boo. This, in combination with rolling sheet silver was to provide the key to future work.
Through texturing, patterning, adding gold selectively and often oxidizing pieces to produce tones of grey, Jessica has developed a series of low-tech methodologies which allow her to fully explore jewellery as a series of decorative surfaces.
Jessica says of these techniques, “I love this way of working and the possibilities it holds are endless and diverse.”
Jessica explains that inspiration for work can come from anywhere: “the 70’s patterned glass in my workshop window spawned a whole series of work ; buttons have provided many a starting point ; plants and insects are always interesting ; a new fabric texture can suggest new forms.”
When making work, the artist often keeps the flotsam that remains. These leftover bits of fabric and paper have a fragile beauty of their own and have been elevated from drawer to frame as part of this exhibition.
“I hope that this exhibition of both jewellery and supportive work will provide an interesting and informative view into my life as a maker.”Jessica Briggs