An artist’s studio is always a reflection of the artist, of how they create work and how they organise their thoughts and practice. This is very true of jeweller Julie Blyfield, whose light-filled studio sits in the luscious back garden of her Adelaide home.
Following several years at Gray Street Studio, Blyfield made the decision in 2010 to work from home. This gives her more space but also the opportunity to be surrounded by the plants and botanical forms that provide inspiration for her jewellery. Working predominantly in sliver, Blyfield uses the traditional techniques of repoussé and chasing, where fine marks are made on the malleable metal surface using small tools and hammers.
Her interest in gardens and plants can be seen in the shapes and forms of her pieces, where floral or leaf-life patterns are delicately inscribed into a necklace, brooch or earrings. A recent wall-work Silver, leaves of grey (2018) is a merging of individual silver leaves into a larger tableau, a beautiful and impressive piece that was a finalist in this year’s Stanthorpe Art Prize.
Of her interest in botany, Blyfield says “My father and grandmother were gardeners and my grandmother embroidered flowers on pillow cases. My parents emigrated from England to Australia in the 1950s and brought the pillow cases with them. I loved these patterns and I went back to England where I visited a pea sorting factory in Lincolnshire, undertook a residency at a herbarium in London and visited Cambridge to view botanical specimens.”
Closer to home, Blyfield continues to research and explore the local environment. In developing collaborative pieces with ceramicist Kirsten Coelho, the two visited the Moonta Mines Museum and South Australian Museum to view ceramic materials from the RAH archaeological dig (the original dump site for Adelaide). Emerging from their explorations is an exhibition called Ormolu (an 18th century term for applying gilding to objects) where Coelho has created ceramics decorated with metalwork by Blyfield.
South Australia is home to many accomplished craft practitioners and Julie Blyfield’s work can be found in Australian and international galleries and museums. The collaboration with Coelho brings together two highly skilled artists. Their exhibition Ormolu is on show during October 2018 at the JamFactory Collect gallery space.
Julie Blyfield is part of the Well Made community and is featured on the platform. Well Made is an initiative of Guildhouse.
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Header image: Julie Blyfield, ‘Stopper, Cone, Sieve’ pendants, Oxidised sterling silver, bi metal copper and sterling silver, cable, wax. 2017 largest pendant 35 x 53 x 57mm. (photo by Grant Hancock)