Wabi sabi, seeds and gold: A guest blog by jeweller Belinda Norrington
From the archives…
Jeweller Belinda Norrington draws inspiration from her natural surroundings – the hedgerows, seashore and riverbank, as well as the stunning wathes of forms and colour from her own garden she tends for her cut flower business. Lots of artists and makers are inspired by the natural world, but it can be hard to articulate how these inspirations are translated into work. In this guest blog Belinda does this perfectly as she tells us a bit about the philosophy behind her work, and from these pictures you can see that not only does she make exquisite jewellery, she’s also a very talented photographer…
“All summer long, I am transfixed by the beautiful flowers and grasses in the water meadows behind my house, but as autumn rolls by, it is the beautiful patches of woodland and, especially, the increasingly skeletal seedheads along the hedgerows and in the local meadows that catch my eye.
A few years ago, I chose a photo of a seedhead of giant cow parsley as the logo for my business because I love the delicate umbel shape, the pretty, papery seeds ready to catch a breeze, the fact that the beauty is unrepentantly caught up in its impermanence, fragility, simplicity.
This also seems to capture notions of wabi sabi – the Japanese idea that there is value and beauty in the natural, simple, impermanent. This philosophy is becoming more and more central to my life and my work – noticing the exquisite in the ordinary and simple, and embracing natural, organic conduits of inspiration and comfort is very instinctive to me but is also beginning to form an outlook and appreciation for life that feels very truthful and much more ‘me’ than more current Western pre-occupations with glamour, success, status and competitive perfectionism. In my making, this actually requires real focus and precision because if you are going to make something that celebrates natural textures and organic forms, with all their inherent little imperfections and simplicity, then they need to be very carefully considered to remain visually pleasing and intriguing. This is why design and making will always be a learning process, a honing and gathering together of skills, ideas and vision.
Crucially, there is a stillness at the heart of my understanding of wabi sabi’s connection to creativity – and I definitely need this stillness in wild places to take time to really notice the beauty surrounding me, stillness in considering designs, stillness in the quiet, hopefully lovely pieces of jewellery that result. I don’t want to make jewellery that shouts, competes, draws attention across a room, I want to create small, nature inspired pieces that speak of stillness, simplicity, beauty. It feels good to write it down, these thoughts have been swirling around my mind for months!
In the last few weeks, the small, oval seeds on the giant cow parsley have struck me as really lovely shapes to use in a new collection – so ephemeral and simple, yet because within them they hold the potential to create plants over seven foot high they are also symbolic of regeneration and hope. This aspect of seeds really appeals to me – their small ordinariness combined with their incredible potential and energy. I think seeds, seedheads and husks will be a rich seam of inspiration.
I am making some cow parsley seeds in silver and gold, and we will see how it goes! Autumn, seedheads, wabi sabi and gold – all swimming around in my mind and imagination, it makes sense to me, I hope it makes some sense to you.
So far, I have been designing some rings and bangles using 100% recycled sterling silver and 100% recycled 9ct gold, and I’m loving the simplicity and tactility of the oval seed shapes. I am looking forward to creating some earrings and necklaces as well, and am also really excited to begin offering these and other designs in Fairtrade, Fairmined gold – hopefully in time for Christmas.”
Many thanks to Belinda for writing for us – it all makes perfect sense and we’re really excited to have her work with us here on madebyhandonline!