MaterialDriven is pleased to be working with Goodfellow towards Materiality– an exciting exhibition, slated for March 2021, at the Oxo Tower in London’s Southbank. With a clear focus on materials, the protagonists of this exhibition will be the art collective Transition–a talented and diverse group of graduates from the University of Creative Arts, who work with materials ranging from textiles, to glass, to metal and ceramics. Since 2019, MaterialDriven has been pleased to nurture and facilitate a relationship between Transition and leading technical materials company Goodfellow, who have been supporting the collective in their exploration of new materials and design processes, and who will be sponsoring this exhibition.
In the months preceding the exhibition, MaterialDriven will share unique insights into each artist from the Transition collective–their process, material media, and influences– giving readers a glimpse of the beautiful exhibition to come. This time, our spotlight falls on Nicky Lawrence, a jewelry designer who works with glass and metal.
In a few glances, it is easy to sense that Nicky Lawrence’s work is vibrant, organic, and in the case of her Coralscape series, almost ‘alive’. The designer creates colorful wearable pieces, cast in a unique combination of blown glass, and colored glass fused with three dimensional, perforated metal forms. The inspiration for her vivid, creature-like forms comes from coral reefs, and her first hand awareness of the devastation that reefs are experiencing around the world.
Inspired by the shapes and structures of coral reefs, and the ocean life encapsulated within them, her Coralscape series consists of pairings–translucent, white, blown-glass ‘ghost reefs’, and perched upon them (when not being worn), pieces of jewelry made from flowing colored glass and metal, in shapes that are inspired by reef creatures known as Nudibranchs. Nudibranchs, or seaslugs, are a widespread group of marine Gastropod molluscs. The shell-less tiny creatures are famous for their brilliant colours.
By doming her metal shapes, and in this case, her copper sheet forms before fusing them with mixed bits of colored glass, Lawrence captures the three-dimensionality of these sea creatures. By drilling holes into the metal, and placing glass into these perforated shapes, a path is created for glass to flow through the holes and create realistic, yet abstract tentacles. In contrast to this, are her transparent-white, blown glass forms which are bubbled and sandblasted to create their unique texture, and express the state of depleted and dying coral reefs. Together, the juxtaposition between these forms and colors, draws the viewer’s and wearer’s attention to a pressing issue, while also creating a larger eye-catching sculpture and moment, when a wearable, vivid Nudibranch is placed atop a more muted ’reef’.
Lawrence’s knowledge of her inspiration runs deep, she has worked with the WWF to survey reef health in the past, diving frequently then, before becoming a jewelry designer. She is currently an Artist in Residence at the University for Creative Arts in Farnham, where she works in metal and glass. With a unique journey that inspires her, Lawrence likens herself to the Decorator crab, which adorns itself with materials (plants and animals) from its environment. Similarly, in her work, Lawrence draws from colors, imagery, patterns and cultures that have captured her imagination, and superimposes them onto her works.
Lawrence’s project Coralscape emerged as a result of her MA project at the University for Creative Arts. Since first creating her exquisite Nudibranchs and coral reefs, her exploration of this concept and these material mediums has moved forward; she is currently working on ‘Vertical Reef’, a new collection of works which will comprise of back-lit glass wall sculptures. Her works will be seen at several upcoming exhibitions including Materiality with Transition, ‘Continuum’, during London Design Week, ‘Connections/Connessioni’ in Glasgow, Livorno and Padua with the Association for Contemporary Jewellery and Associazione Gioiello Contemporaneo, and ‘Life Forms’ at the Pyramid Gallery in York with the Contemporary Glass Society.
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