Kay Lancashire2I’ve been a ‘maker’ all my life. My earliest recollections are of making dolls clothes, breaking up my Nana’s discarded beads into ‘new creations’, painting, drawing, knitting, crocheting, enamelling, ceramics, leather…the list goes on.

As an adult I continued to acquire skills through the various arts I dabbled with. Calligraphy, bookbinding and drawn Celtic knot work were added to the mix. So when the need to earn an income, when jobs were unavailable back in 2002, I turned to my ability to make things out of nothing, recycling all sorts of finds from the op shop and indeed the recycle tip shop, selling at markets and using the income to buy more supplies to recycle and start the process over. The direction I took was driven by what sold at the markets so in a way I was directly led to the pathway of jewellery making and wearable art.

There’s certainly been a lot of water under the bridge since those difficult times (only really difficult financially, I wouldn’t change things for anything, it’s been such a rewarding experience).

Something which has driven me from the start is telling a story with my work. I like to tackle each of my major works with a story in my mind or an image I’m going to convey. I’m not necessarily one for carefully documenting the process. Many times I don’t even sketch, I just use the picture which I have in my head. Occasionally I do jot an image down, usually because I can’t get to the workshop at the time and I need to capture the moment so I don’t forget it. This, however, is rare. Mostly I just ‘wing it’.

So many things influence my work: it could be a nature theme, a historical look or style, a story from the classics. Sometimes I don’t even know how I’m going to get the outcome I’m wanting, I just have to sleep on it and my subconscious mind seems to solve the problem for me. Many times it’s a case of trial and error with test pieces to see if the ideas will work. I’m never sure where this adventure will take me.

Another aspect of this journey I’m on is that of having this genre of art seen as a legitimate form alongside that of painting, drawing and sculpting. I’m one of many, I’m sure. I ‘paint’ with my beads, thread, wire, metal. I sculpt my forms in whatever medium will convey the story I’m telling. My small works just happen to be able to be worn. In most instances I name work as a reflection of its story.

The shaky start back in 2002 was actually a gift. It gave me not only the impetus but the need and ability to see and think outside of the square, to see the potential in items not necessarily intended for the purpose to which I end up using them. My methods are not necessarily conventional as I’m not formally trained. However, I have had some amazing tutors in workshops: a week here and there, a hobby course at the TAFE college, and so on. I do find that as I progress I am using more traditional methods to bring greater scope to the pieces I’m working on.

I still use low cost metals such as brass and copper although I do use sterling silver and gold-fill occasionally, particularly on request. This use of copper and brass is mainly because of the patinas and aged effects I can achieve with flame and so on. Perhaps it’s a phase I’m going through but I do love the process of creating pieces which look like they have been created long ago.