Michele White is an acclaimed British jewellery designer maker based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham. She is also the owner of the Artisan Alchemy Gallery.
In this article Michele describes her inspiration behind the two triptych collections. Intertwined, you will find information about the ‘Transport in Birmingham’ pieces, along side the ‘Seascape, Estuary’ piece, both a set of three associated artistic works intended to be appreciated together.
‘This triptych was made in response to the subject ‘Birmingham’ for a dedicated RBSA exhibition. For a while I had been making pieces that are larger than jewellery mostly from precious metals and gemstones.’
The ‘Seascape, Estuary’ piece described next is one of these pieces inspired from gemstones and the natural form.
‘It is often difficult to understand how these wonderful landscapes and seascapes can be cut from a natural rock. The inclusions are caused by minerals which occur sometime during the formation. Quartz grows in many environments along with many different minerals. These minerals may have formed before the quartz which then engulfs them, may have grown simultaneously with the quartz or may form around it and become leached in later. The quartz in this piece made me think of a wide stretch of estuary with miles of rock strewn sand and screaming seabirds looking for their next meal.’
‘This was a departure in many ways. Firstly the intention was to make it from silver sheet and wire only, and secondly with a topic set from outside rather than dictated from my own choice of gemstone.’
‘It was not the first triptych I had made. In 2000 I submitted a triptych made up of 3 brooches, a seascape, to the RBSA prize exhibition. The piece won the first prize and was subsequently acquired by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and is in their collection.’ ‘The estuary triptych was quite a strange experience . As so often I had the piece of quartz in my collection for some time. Every once in a while I look through my boxes and pick out something that stimulates an idea in that moment’
‘I put together the three pieces- each of which can be worn separately- and I was very dissatisfied with the result. I put it aside and did not look at it again for some time.
One day , looking through the boxes again, I found it and thought it needed finishing.
So I finished it and entered it for the 2000 prize exhibition…..and it won first prize !’
‘The ‘Birmingham’ triptych also won a prize . It is made up of the map of the Birmingham canal system, the rail system, and in particular the configuration of ‘Spaghetti Junction’ the road system coming off the M6 of which I have so often been told it has confused a driver so much when trying to get into the city, that they have given up and gone away. Although it was a challenge to untangle the spaghetti I managed to do it !
Images top to bottom:
Birmingham Canals, Transport in Birmingham, Part of the prize winning collection at an RBSA exhibition. Silver.
Birmingham Railways, Transport in Birmingham, From the prize winning collection at an RBSA exhibition. Silver.
Birmingham Roads, Transport in Birmingham, Part of the prize winning collection at an RBSA exhibition. Silver.