Interview with Rachel Darbourne

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 25.09.2014
Interview with Rachel Darbourne.
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The issue of standardisation within jewellery could easily turn into an essay running to many hundreds of words. In short, my answer is yes.
Do you think that jewellery is being standardized? What is there of local and universal in your artistic work?
The issue of standardisation within jewellery could easily turn into an essay running to many hundreds of words. In short, my answer is yes. I consider this a result of many complex issues, all interwoven and interconnected, such as: the commercial requirements of all galleries to facilitate their survival; the many, many levels within the discipline itself (from the hobbyist, to the product designer, to the art jeweller and so on); exhibitions…every venue, every curator, every gallery has its own agenda, work is selected accordingly - will it sell, is it what is expected; the issues of quality, taste, skill sets, use of materials, aesthetics... standards are inevitably set... can we actually break the mould or confound expectations or are we just operating within another set of standards, albeit less popular and arguably less defined? Probably so.

Some of the issues I am researching within ‘Lovingly Murdered’ are psychologically universal and yet ‘locally’ personal. The soft toys or transitional objects are all sourced from local charity shops, and are of universal appeal. Objects also travel. In our globalised world is anything local? I bought a bag of broken, junk jewellery from a charity shop located in Plymouth, UK, within this collection of jewellery was a small badge originating from The Detroit Institute of Arts, USA.

What do you expect when exposing your work to the public (for example with an exhibition)?
I don’t have specific expectations. I hope that there is an audience for my new work.

Are other areas besides jewellery, present in your works?
I am happiest and most comfortable with a needle and thread in my hands: fabric, haberdashery and the tools of the tailor are old friends and my understanding of them is inherent. Within ‘Lovingly Murdered’ all pieces start with a ‘murder’, a deconstruction and then a reconstruction which takes place with the use of sewing techniques in combination with components that make the piece wearable. I am interested in the human condition and our tendency to violence; I have been reading about taboos and the breaking of them, specifically the work of Bataille and Freud.

The last work, book, film, city that has moved me was…
I don’t tend to engage unless I am moved one way or the other, therefore, most recently, an instillation by artist Tessa Farmer, anthropologist Daniel Miller’s book The Comfort of Things, the last film I saw was The Hundred-Foot Journey which was gentle and heart warming without being too twee. I was in the city of Wells in Somerset this August; it is a very small city with a very, very large, magnificent, awe inspiring Cathedral.

Is there any designer, jeweller, artist you appreciate a lot?
I really enjoy and am continually moved by the narratives within the work of Maria Militsi, Laura Potter, Lin Chueng and Jivan Astfalck. During my MA I spent time looking at and reading about the work of Jenny Saville, Mike Kelly, The Chapman Brothers, Annette Messager and Nathalie Djurberg, amongst others.

What piece or work has given you the most satisfaction?
Thus far I would have to say my MA collection ‘Lovingly Murdered’.

Do you read Jewellery Magazines? What is your source to get information?
I read Current Obsession, I visit the Klimt02 site on a regular basis, the library at the Birmingham School of Jewellery was an excellent resource, I am going to miss it, Facebook is useful…

Do you discuss your work with other jewellery artists or any other person?
I do, my partner is an artist/blacksmith and has an interesting perspective on things as does fellow studio holder and glass artist Glenn Carter. As a recent graduate and artist in residence at the School of Jewellery, I have had the luxury of being surrounded by many talented jewellers, Jivan Astfalck, Bridie Lander, Laura Bradshaw Heap, Drew Markou, Suzanne Beautyman among them.

What is your first thought when you hear the word Future? What do you expect for?
I do one day at a time. Environmentally, politically and socially, the way the world is heading, I find it worrying. Work wise, there is a lot going on right now, so it’s exciting.