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Ambrin Howell:

My name is Ambrin Howell, and I am a jewellery designer.

I graduated in 2016 with a Degree in Jewellery Design from Central Saint Martins. My training there involved mastering a mixture of jewellery and metalworking skills, and I also learned how to develop innovative concepts for designing contemporary jewellery. After graduating I interned in the workshop of world-famous jewellery designer Shaun Leane, and I have recently set up my own contemporary jewellery practice.

I take inspiration from everyday life and my work often responds to experiences and objects that everybody is familiar with. My work ranges from designing and making contemporary jewellery, and also producing jewellery themed objects and sculptures. My most notable works to date include the ‘Gold Bar’ Kit Kat, ‘Tampax Pearl’ the luxury tampon, and ‘Beer Ring’ which contains a synthetic jewel I created using real ale and small ‘frothy’ pearls.

I really like that people can relate to my work and that it always sparks a conversation. I love encouraging people to see how the everyday can inspire beautiful jewellery. I like how my work plays with the unspoken ‘rules’ of how we value different things. Humans are material creatures, we are collectors and we like objects and things, so its fun to use jewellery as a way of exploring how we can value and interact with these different things. For example, I have done a lot of work with old coins. I noticed that the general attitude towards coins and small change these days is that we don’t really value them as much as we value big notes and the money in our bank accounts. Often coins are treated with little appreciation and are often treated as ‘throw away’ money. By creating wonderful jewellery out of coins, I am able to add more value to them and change the way they are treated and appreciated as objects.

My main aim is to create modern jewellery, which just like art and sculpture, can be used to communicate a concept, reflect ideas about society, and be accepted as a serious work of art whilst still maintaining its function as a jewel.

This year I designed ‘Crown Jewels’ which is a Bee Sculpture that formed part of the massive ‘Bee In The City’ sculpture trail, which took place in Manchester. I took inspiration from Emmeline Pankhurst and the Manchester Suffragettes as well as suffragette jewellery, to create a beautifully bejewelled suffragette bee. The ‘Crown Jewels’ bee was exhibited at Manchester Art Gallery throughout the summer and the sculpture was recently sold at auction, and I am so proud to say that the piece raised £10,000 for the We Love Manchester Charity!

I am currently in the process of designing a huge three-part collection that I plan to launch next year. Continuing my love the unlikely and the undervalued, I have taken chewing gum as a point of inspiration. The collection features beautiful freshwater baroque pearls that I have hand selected to look like pieces of squished up chewing gum. Taking the concept of ‘used chewing gum’ and designing beautiful and luxurious jewellery is going to make for a really exciting and fun new body of work!

To people who are just starting, I would say the best thing they can do is learn the rules then break the rules, invent your own tools, techniques, and ways of making designing jewellery you’ve never seen before!

Cat Zauner

My name is Cat Zauner, and I am a visual artist

As a kid I remember finding a love for creativity through my mum. I used to read a lot, and I used to take the books to her and beg her to draw the main character(s) in the pictures. I’d just sit next to her and obsess over how quickly and detailed she drew. Looking back at things now, I’ve got so many distinct memories of evolving into this creative mindset when I was younger. I use to sit in front of the telly whenever I could and obsess over “Art Attack”, I’d try to re-create whatever was being shown. With every art competition I’d submit something and I think a part of it was for fun, and part of it was trying to prove to myself and others what I was capable of achieving.

I moved here to London about two and a half years ago. I grew up in Hong Kong with two sisters, my step-dad and mum. Hong Kong is such a multi-cultural city, and I’m pretty blessed to have grown up in a place where I was exposed to different races and ethnic backgrounds from a young age. Myself being one of them (half French, half Chinese), but I grew up with a step-dad from London. I think that like myself and many other Eurasian kids, the experiences I’ve had and how I’ve been brought up in a multi-cultural home has shaped my views on the world, people, and relationships with the self and others.

I’m asked a lot “What are you?” or if they want to be polite “Where are you from?”. I think the confusion of my accent and how I look creates an opening for interesting discussion. I say to people here that I’m half Chinese (from my mum’s side), and from somewhere that’s not in the UK, and their immediate reaction is “Oh she’s strict then” or “Yeah she’s probably like… a tiger mum right?”. I think with that it fed into these realisations I began having about myself, from leaving a hub where people understood and normalised my upbringing, into somewhere where it’s foreign. That then fed into these ideas and explorations of my identity within a foreign space, and that’s when my interest in capturing other people and relationships with the self really picked up and started developing.

I practice within a range of mediums. I experiment with photography, drawing and printmaking. I like to combine materials a lot, and I try to encapsulate meanings that arise through the process of working with these formats. I guess I almost organically come to a conclusion of my work once I’m satisfied with that process. I showcased two of my drawings alongside some amazing artists on Creative Debut last year. It kind of put into perspective what I was leading my life into, and that excited me.

I love what I’m capable of doing with my work, and the ideas and discussions I’m able to circulate with them. I think what I try to maintain the most is a sense of rawness, intimacy, and energy within my work. I love that I’m able to see what I feel, and when my work is lacking I’m able to bring it out of its surface into a range of interesting developments. I don’t love that I’m my biggest critic a lot the time, and in that comes a strange judgment I put onto my work.

 

I don’t have many people that inspire my work to be exact, but there are people such as Mlma, Butler, and Serique that I admire in terms of work ethic and just being such an individual with their craft. There’s an artist that I just started looking into called Pierre Bismuth. He does these amazing works where he frantically draws or etches on a sheet of glass, tracing people as they’re moving on the television screen. The outcome is so intriguing. There’s a weird energy in his work.

Right now I’m just continuing with experimenting with combining materials, I’ll be going into etching soon and my plans for that are to reiterate the same style of layering onto imagery. I think a lot of people get caught up in what they could have done, or what they should’ve paid attention to. It’s a good reminder that what’s meant to be is meant to be, and whatever process that you find yourself into just remember that you’re so limitless.

Are you a freelancer who is interested in having your work showcased? Email submissions@underpinned.co with four images, including one portrait of yourself and some samples of your work.  We will contact you if we are interested in publishing your work. 

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