‘A stone does not live or maybe it does, maybe it lives like us. We might be like stones to them, who knows. I wish we did, they are one of the many mysteries, to me anyway.’
This sense that stones live and breathe like humans noted by 14 year old Gin Rimmington Jones is echoed in her photography exhibition The Writing of Stones, currently on display at Argentea Gallery in the Jewellery Quarter.
Rimmington Jones is a photographic artist who graduated with an MA in Photography from Brighton University in 2018. She currently lives and works in Brighton.
The layering of surfaces through the use of in-camera multi-exposure techniques create collisions of shapes and textures which animate the photographs. In Brushing the Dust Off 3 a tree is superimposed on a rock so that the branches and cracks become indistinguishable.
Time is central to this exhibition. Rimmington Jones says,
‘I have collected stones my whole life, as if in their weight and density the curvature of time is made manifest. When you hold a stone it is as if you are holding time.’
In some ways, time is suspended in these photographs, depicting stones which have stood in the same place for thousands of years. Simultaneously an aging process is clear in the weathered state of these stones, the cracks and rough edges which have slowly accumulated. As stones become living entities in this exhibition, in some photos their surfaces are reminiscent of wrinkling skin.
This body of work depicts the marble quarries and gorge of the Los Gasquez region of Spain, taken during two artist residencies at Joya-AiR, Almeira in 2019 and 2020. Rimmington Jones took inspiration from Roger Caillois’ book The Writing of Stones, exploring how stones reveal the connected narratives of humans and the natural world.
The Jewellery Quarter feels like the perfect location for this exhibition, being home to skilled designers and craftsmen who work with precious gemstones.
Rimmington Jones encountered St Paul’s Square and the Jewellery Quarter during her first visit to Birmingham. She comments,
‘I was immediately struck by how the sense of history and time holds you. Galleries, restaurants, businesses, apartments and industrial buildings all flow from one to the other around the four corners of square. At its heart the beautiful 18th century church nestles in the surrounding green space peppered with exotic plane trees; it seems very much the place to hang out with friends or walk your dog. Pausing a moment in the sunshine, a small stone caught my eye amongst the grass, a strange interruption to the greenery; as I picked it up and felt its smoothness I mused on its possible journey to that spot. Like me a visitor, like me absorbing something of the shifting nature of time and experience.’
Parallels can be drawn between Rimmington Jones’s photography and jewellery making. To Michele White (jewellery designer and owner of Artisan Alchemy) like many other jewellers, gemstones are not simply materials. She carefully selects the stone based on shape, colour or texture which make the stone unique or reminiscent of something else, often a natural landscape. Michele sometimes designs the piece around the gemstone, using its rare features to help her tell a story.
In this way both Gin and Michele’s artistic practice represents an intimate encounter with the natural world. Both are interested in the fragility and flaws of stones. Gin explores time and a tension with human enterprise, while Michele finds inclusions and abnormalities which make the stone different.
Visit The Writing of Stones before it closes on the 31st October. The gallery is currently open Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm. Argentea Gallery is located in St Pauls Square and Artisan Alchemy is just around the corner on Caroline Street. Our opening times are Tuesday – Saturday 10:30-16:30.