The intimate scale of jewellery is a central factor in Jessica Turrell’s practice. She creates work that has a tactile delicacy that rewards the wearers close attention with an intricate and detailed surface. Over recent years she has developed an experimental approach to enamel by which she seeks to create work that moves away from traditional jewellery enamel practice in order to achieve a more ambiguous and expressive surface quality.
The focus of Jessica’s recent AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) research fellowship 'Innovation in Vitreous Enamel Surfaces in Jewellery' was the use of innovative and experimental enamelling techniques in the production of contemporary jewellery. Methods more usually associated with large-scale, panel enamelling and industrial processes were adapted for use in three-dimensional wearable forms, therefore removing some of the practical and physical constraints that often restrict the potential of the material.
Despite more than 20 years working with enamel in the context of practice, this research demanded that a period of systematic sampling and testing was undertaken in order to prove or disprove some of the technical myths that surrounded the application of vitreous enamel. As the observation, analysis and evaluation of such data is inextricably linked to tacit knowledge this could only be achieved by someone with the level of experiential understanding that Jessica has gained through significant time working within such a specialism.
There were two interlinking strands of enquiry. A theoretical and contextual exploration of the place and status of enamel in contemporary jewellery practice and technical research into new methods for the production of enamelled jewellery forms, in order to extend current thinking and to develop new ways of working with it.
1. Turrell, J. ‘Surface and Substance: A call for the fusion of skill and ideas in contemporary enamel jewellery’ Craft Research, Volume 1, 2010, (pp 85-100)
Jessica Turrell is a jeweller, enamel artist, teacher and researcher. In 1988, upon graduation from Central St Martins, she established a studio in Bristol. Initially her focus was on jewellery that incorporated traditional enamel techniques but in the late 1990s she undertook a sustained period of research into mark-making in enamel using non-traditional techniques. This, combined with investigations into printmaking processes for enamel, formed the focus of her postgraduate study at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
In 2007 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded Jessica a three-year research fellowship. The project, entitled Innovation in Vitreous Enamel Surfaces for Jewellery, was hosted by the Enamel Research Centre at UWE and employed both practice-led and theoretical research methodology to investigate the potential of new and experimental techniques and approaches. As an extension of this project Jessica is currently curating a major enamel jewellery exhibition for winter 2011.
New Traditional Jewellery – True Colours, award nominees’ exhibition (touring), SIERAAD, Netherlands: Villa Bengel te Idar Oberstein, Germany: Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem, Netherlands 2010-2011; Premio Fondazione Cominelli, Cisano di San Felice del Benaco, Italy, 2010; Inner Voice, Contemporary Applied Arts, London, 2009; Playing With Fire, Devon Guild of Craftsmen (touring), 2008-2010; International Badge Exhibition, (touring) Museum der Arbeit, Hamburg, Germany: Velvet de Vinci Gallery, San Francisco, USA: The Society of Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, USA 2007-2010; The Enamel Show, Velvet de Vinci Gallery, San Francisco, USA, 2009; Wearing Glass 2, Oxo Gallery, London: National Glass Centre, Sunderland, 2005-2006; Jewellery-Unlimited, Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, 2004.
Fellowship in the Creative and Performance Arts, awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 2007; Excellence in Enamel, awarded by the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, 2008.
Authored journal article Surface and Substance – a call for the fusion of skill and ideas in contemporary enamel jewellery, Craft Research, Intellect, UK, 2010; The Enamel Project – Jessica Turrell, author Ian Wilson, Art Aurea Magazine, 2010