I wasn’t sure where to start writing about myself so I googled a few designers to see what information they’d included and as I suspected (and rightly so) they all have amazing achievements, success stories, some even with letters after their name. As much as I’d like to start off by listing my qualifications and awards from the most prestigious of institutions, I can’t. Everything I’ve learnt within the art and jewellery world has been through my late father, Michael, family, friends, artists, makers and other jewellers. I have learnt on the job by some very kind and talented people. Over time I have technically improved and expanded but fundamental to VCJ is a pure and genuine passion to create beautiful, colourful pieces of wearable art that are a pleasure to wear and as individual as their owners.
My career started a long way from jewellery. For many years I worked in some of the most exciting publishing houses, travelling and meeting all sorts of imaginative people. A few more years passed and despite enjoying the publishing world I knew I wanted to do something more creative and hands on so started looking at other possibilities.
Meanwhile, Dad had completed a fine art degree and masters in jewellery and had set up the business and suggested that I join him and make it a family business. Shocked and appalled at the suggestion of working with family(!!) I dismissed the idea. Six months later however, I was intrigued by the contemporary and colourful creations he was making so I spent some time with him “just to see what he was up to” and “no promises mind”. The rest is history.
I endeavour to maintain their spontaneous appeal by not working to any preconceived ideas or particular pattern, although there are many influences of course. This impulsive style with the bright, bold designs and experimenting with colour is fundamental to VCJ. By their painterly nature and visible brushstrokes every piece keeps them united as a brand and it’s philosophy; unique – stylish – wearable art. I love experimenting with colour and this impulsive, brushstroke style is where the majority of work lies. Some have inscriptions written inside which vary from artistic sentimentalities to more mischievous quotations. We have been fortunate enough to have our work in galleries such as the Royal Academy of Arts, Hayward Gallery, Van Gogh Museum and mima which has been a huge privilege.
To create these pieces the aluminium has an electrical current passed through it which opens up tiny pores in the metal. This allows the inks and dyes to be absorbed into the metal and are then sealed in by steaming or boiling them. There are various ways of colouring aluminium and I generally apply the inks in layers using different paintbrushes and dipping in dyes to create a background colour. There are a multitude of ways to apply designs so it offers lots of opportunities to be creative.
There is no doubt none of this would have been possible without my late father who started the jewellery business in 2001. We worked together for several years until he died in 2012, sadly long before his time. This is a wonderful legacy to hold and remember him by and thank goodness I did “Just see what he got up to”.
Leave ordinary behind
Me, hard at work! My door is always welcome to passing visitors so please get in touch if you're in the area.
Devilishly fiery red and black saddle ring in the making.
Painting area in the studio. As you can see, not a drop wasted!