INTO MIST: Kerry Seaton + Cereal6 May, 2016
Many of the shapes found in Kerry’s works resemble natural forms – seeds, pods and pebbles – and have a subtle, organic irregularity. I’m invited to feel the smooth, hand-forged shanks to her rings, see how the gold settings are individually moulded to the particular shape of a stone, and shown the beginnings of a brooch shaped like a safety-pin, made from a tapering stick of silver.
Jeweller Kerry Seaton has collaborated with Cereal to create six palm sized sculptures handcrafted in silver and plaster. Together, they evoke an atmosphere of silence and serenity, while each gently curving form, with its pebble smooth surface, asks to be touched and held.
“My whole working life can fit into a tiny box,” Kerry Seaton says, as we sit in her quiet white studio high above the Clerkenwell Road in London. Examples of her jewellery and the tools that created them are in front of us, laid out on a well-worn workshop bench. “Everything you see here is what I use all the the time.”
Kerry selects a piercing saw with a thread-thin blade, plucks a sliver of silver from the pot of metal scraps sitting next to the cup of tea beside her, and starts to demonstrate how it is used. Fine dust, known as ‘lemel’, falls into the large leather pouch that hangs loosely beneath the curved nook in the bench where she sits.
The familiarity and precision with which Kerry uses the saw – as with all the tools she picks up to illustrate a point during our conversation – straightaway reveals the 13 years she’s spent “in the trade” as she calls it, smiling at the antiquated expressions that crop up frequently in her profession. She began a five-year jewellery apprenticeship when she was 17, learning from a master in Sussex, where she grew up. A masters at the Royal College of Art followed. “It felt like what I’d been waiting for,” she says of her two years there. “I had my skill, I suppose, but I’d never been in an environment where you could learn about artistic things. It helped me develop my look.”
It gave her time, for instance, to make sketches in the botanical seed department at Kew Gardens. Many of the shapes found in Kerry’s works resemble natural forms – seeds, pods and pebbles – and have a subtle, organic irregularity. I’m invited to feel the smooth, hand-forged shanks to her rings, see how the gold settings are individually moulded to the particular shape of a stone, and shown the beginnings of a brooch shaped like a safety-pin, made from a tapering stick of silver.
The sculptures are informed by the same “dictionary of shapes”, as Kerry describes them, that recur in her jewellery. The project was sparked by the charcoal drawings of seed-like forms pinned to her studio wall, and has developed intuitively during the sculpting process. “It’s really hard to explain how I know when something’s finished,” she says. “I keep going and going, and then it’s done. I couldn’t really tell you why a curve is where it is, it just felt right.”
Kerry divides her working time between her London studio and the Sussex coast, where she lives and shares a workshop with her partner, Sam Le Prevost. The daily sight of the sea – its mutable greys and moody whites, the transparent mist rising off it in the morning – has inspired the sculptures’ colours.
On the way out, I notice among the photographs and drawings on the wall a quotation that seems to encapsulate her way of seeing: “We always think the exotic is elsewhere, but maybe we should have a closer look around us.”