Manna Ash

Published: 01.08.2023


Jane Atfield was born in London and lived her formative years in Bristol and rural Pembrokeshire. Her RCP2 Chair pioneered the use of recycled plastics and is in the collections of the V&A, London Design Museum, VITRA and the Crafts Council, London. In 2018 she started the Necklace Project (using the name Manna Ash) exploring the inter-connective power of jewellery to reflect and contextualise personal and collective joys and not inconsiderable anxieties.


These necklaces by Manna Ash remind you of the names of trees in your street, of playing in the woods, of capturing seeds or highlighting tweets, of a flowerbed in Kings Cross, of winter candle light, of registering the sequence of cherry blossom opening in springtime London, of literally mirroring your surroundings, of recording shared emotional adolescent and menopausal states, of London’s housing crisis, of giving status to UN reports on poverty, of paying reverence to posters carried during the School Strike for Climate protestors.

Furniture designer Jane Atfield has recently embraced making smaller items that are worn close to the body. Like pages from a three-dimensional open diary, these uncompromising necklaces reflect on lived experience, relating pervasive concerns and seeking shared meanings. They encourage dialogue and connection with each other, our internal and external, social and political lives.

Using a documentary approach and many different (mostly recycled or reused) materials, the necklaces are made in incomplete series, to be added to over time. They aim for contemporary relevance. Visualising ideas becomes the joy of making ideas. The topics are wide ranging, from the celebration of biodiversity in the TreeLife Collection which explores ways of connecting trees to each other and to ourselves, to souvenirs of life as a mother (within the 3 Sons Collection) and also mementos of the city she has spent 30 years in. Issues such as the role of women’s work, land privatisation, data as profit, and the nature/climate crisis are kept close, often harnessing the evocative power of words.

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