My practice is very eclectic and involves being led by the elements along with the materials I find, manipulating and combining them physically. Interview with Lynne Speake by Klimt02 

Interview  /  Artists   CriticalThinking   BehindTheScenes
Published: 30.10.2023
Lynne Speake Lynne Speake
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Lynne Speake. Neckpiece: Fishing line & Stilbite, 2023. Silicone tube (various), Stilbite crystal, fishing wire, beads, black sewing thread, copper & liver of sulphur.. 30 x 12 x 30 cm. Photo by: @fototplus_collective. Lynne Speake
Neckpiece: Fishing line & Stilbite, 2023
Silicone tube (various), Stilbite crystal, fishing wire, beads, black sewing thread, copper & liver of sulphur.
30 x 12 x 30 cm
Photo by: @fototplus_collective
© By the author. Read Copyright.

We recently interviewed new jeweller member Lynne Speake. Lynne is an established jewellery designer based in the Engish seaside town, Cornwall. She founded the international jewellery collective Precious.Collective. We took a deep dive into the context of her current practice and found out about her perspective on the value of networking and digital spaces amongst her tactile aesthetic.
Tell us about your background. What were your first influences to be creative and become an artist and what has drawn you to contemporary jewellery?
From as far back as I can remember I just wanted to make art. I never thought of anything else at school, I just wanted to draw, paint and create. Originally I concentrated on painting as I was never really interested in other types of art making – I just loved painting really big, really bright, purely abstract paintings. I then ended up teaching art in London before running away to Cornwall to do an MA in Contemporary Visual Art at Falmouth University. It was like a dream come true … having had over a 10-year gap from my first degree I just totally threw myself into art making 24/7, going off on lots of different creative tangents, living and breathing art. I ended up with a distinction which I'm still super proud of.
For about 10 years I then did lots of community and performative-based projects mainly centred around upcycled textiles; helping people make new items of clothing from treasured garments that held sentimental meanings before stumbling into the world of art jewellery in 2017

How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Networking is massively important and something that I love doing.
When I started to make 'art jewellery' I realised that there was not an art jewellery community or real market for it here in Cornwall, so in 2017 I gave birth to @Precious.Collective.
It was initially an idea I had for a Cornish based collective as, alongside art, I also love working with people, but as usual I got carried away and approached anyone who's work I liked on Instagram. I asked them if they'd like to join Precious … something that was, and still is, totally free.
6 years after its conception we have almost 400 members worldwide, 19.5k followers on Instagram, have staged 8 international group exhibitions including our own 5 day on-line jewellery week, have a show just about to open in London and 3 more in the planning stage including our second visit to Munich Jewellery Week in 2024.
In terms of networking I use Instagram as my preferred social media platform and WhatsApp is fabulous … about 1/3 of members are in our chat group and it is an amazing community … members are so generous with their time, energy, professional advice, opinions, energy and support. It really is a special place and through this chat group members who have never met before now meet up at various exhibitions and jewellery weeks, one of my dreams when I set the collective up.
The other important networking opportunity is our monthly 'WOMB' zoom … 'What is On My Bench' ... which is super cool. 
We give birth to things on our benches and we incubate work on our bench before birthing it out into the world. So our bench really is a 'womb'. We spend so much time on our own in our studios that it is wonderful to be able to connect with other makers from all over the world in a very supportive and positive place. The amazing Mark Mcleish is our fabulous host for this and amongst other things we talk about work we are currently making, exhibitions, ask for advice and try out new ideas with a critical audience of experts. It’s a magical forum and I always come away feeling massively inspired. Sometimes we even have guests join us, a few months ago we had the very lovely Bryna Pomp who I met for the first time in Munich earlier in the year … such a wonderful lady and a brilliant opportunity for all those who joined us that month to meet her, something they may never have had the chance to do in normal life.

Thinking about your career, what role do technology and the digital play in your artistic development communication?
My practice is very eclectic and involves being led by the elements along with the materials I find, manipulating and combining them physically. My first professional training was that of painting and later my MA wasn't jewellery specific. Any jewellery-making or training has not been overly technological or centred around clever machines such as 3D printing or many of the machines that are standard in jewellery workshops or have been around for years!. I make with standard and simple jewellery bench tools and techniques, a small forge, a saucepan for pewter or a kiln for porcelain is about as technical as I get!. I want to use physical tools and let the materials that somehow end up in my studio be the driving force and not the technological wizardry that is out there.
I mainly use technology in promotion and that is about it really … I'm interested in making I guess in an old-fashioned way and really I can't imagine changing ... if anything I may even get less technical – who knows!.

How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
Ok, so I started out using plastic toys (human and dog-centered!) beads from charity shops or ones that I’d had for years, things I found when out walking or washed up on beaches, landfill and urban waste. After an amazing mentoring opportunity with Dr. Zoe Robertson, my practice changed radically … I realised that I was actually still inspired by the same things I had been when I was painting … decay, rust, erosion, peeling paint and the environment.
This led to me ditching the plastic toys and concentrating more on found objects, still from walks, beaches and boat yards but with more of a sculptural element and once more getting big like those paintings of thirty years previous!.
Through Zoe's amazing guidance, I realised that the process of making was still the same as when I had painted and my real love was that of erosion and large-scale sculptural work, as long as you could place them somewhere on the body then they could still be classed as jewellery – this was a real revelation!. I also started to incorporate porcelain and ceramics into my practice.
My work has since become a lot more monochrome … which is mad as I am a total colour freak, but my work (and also my wardrobe) has now been black and shades of black for a good couple of years.
Recently I have challenged myself by making smaller pieces which I really now enjoy – though I don't think my small is actually that small!.
In terms of what I'm getting excited by now and in the future; I am still excited to be guided by my materials. I have recently really wanted to concentrate on a deeper tuning into, and investigation of, my local environment around where I live, the mining trails, the rocks, the elements, their spirit and what draws them together and to me, the catalyst through which they are put together throughout the calendrical year.
Oh and Precious.Collective is my other love and source of excitement and inspiration … I see running it as an integral part of my practice and can only imagine that it is going to get more exciting as the months roll on.