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Transition Member: Jo Lally

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Jo Lally is a narrative jeweller with a passion for gemstones, especially included quartzes. The stories she tells through her jewellery often deal with the play between the hidden and the visible, and the tension between the acts of revealing and obscuring.After focusing on jewellery, inspired by cartoons during her MA in Jewellery at UCA Farnham from 2016-2018, Jo is currently exploring the tactile and visual properties of materials and questioning what it means to have materiality. She is also returning to her love of unusual gemstones. Jo is a Fellow and Diamond Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

Jo’s work incorporates Silver, Gold, stones, words, found objects and technical materials. She takes an ethical, sustainable approach to making.

Since 2019, Jo has been Editor of Findings, the magazine of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery. She is on the point of submitting a proposal for a book, Exploring Contemporary Jewellery, too.

“The stories she tells through her jewellery often deal with the play between the hidden and the visible.”

I am currently exploring the tactile and visual properties of materials and questioning what it means to have materiality – for instance, do words have materiality? Are they a material we can work with? And if so, how can they be combined with Gold, Silver, stones, copper foam and reactive metals such as titanium and tantalum?

What about light? I sometimes feel that if I could work directly with light and give it shape and tactility, I would, but the next best thing is creating jewellery that plays with light in ways that make light seem to be one of the materials used.  

Stones often have wonderful optical properties that can be exploited – some gemstones almost seem to be made of light, or to be pure red, blue or green. Included quartzes, which can be stunning miniature worlds or tiny artworks, play a wonderful game with light. They simultaneously reveal and conceal – sometimes it is the very reflection of white light from an inclusion which reveals that it is present, yet also conceals the inclusion behind the whiteness of the reflection. This property fits well with my underlying fascination with the hidden and the visible, the concealed and the revealed.

Reactive metals such as Titanium and Tantalum can be coloured with heat or electricity.  This creates layers of oxides, which reflect the light back at certain wavelengths, corresponding to particular colours. So, it seems to me, to be an open question, whether I am playing with the properties of the metal or exploring the reactions of the light.

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