Glasgow School of Art graduate Lyndsay Fairley is one of eleven promising young makers debuting a collection at Shine 2020, the first digital edition of our annual talent showcase. In a recent interview with the Goldsmiths' Centre, the Edinburgh-based contemporary jeweller described how her jewellery collection Na Mara seeks to capture the rugged, transient beauty of the Scottish coastline.
What first attracted you to a career as a maker, and how did you get started in the industry?
When I left college, I knew I wanted to do something creative, but I wasn't entirely sure what. So I did an Art Foundation Degree at Falmouth University, where I got to try out lots of different courses. One of those was jewellery, so I stumbled into it by accident, but found that I really enjoyed it, and my final collection at Falmouth ended up being jewellery. Following on from that, I went on to study at The Glasgow School of Art, doing the Jewellery and Silversmithing course there, and that really helped me to develop my skills and my creativity.
What can you tell us about the collection you'll be debuting at Shine?
The name of the collection is Na Mara, which means “of the sea' in Gaelic, a reference to the inspiration behind the work. Lots of my inspiration comes from walks I’ve done along the East Coast of Scotland, so it’s based on sections of the Scottish coastline that I’ve visited, like Elie, Cramond and North Queensferry. I was interested in the debris that gets washed up and deposited on the beaches there, particularly the seaweed, because of the tactile qualities it has. From there, I abstracted it, using lots of mixed media mark-making, and then I developed the jewellery from the drawings – so it’s all quite abstracted from the beach theme. I really wanted to keep the spontaneous, tactile qualities of the materials that washed up on the beaches.
What is ‘wabi-sabi’, and how is it explored in this collection?
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept about aesthetics (also linked to Japanese tea ceremony) but I guess the essence of it is about finding beauty in the imperfect, transient parts of nature, and that connects to my theme as well, particularly in relation to the transient nature of the coast. I’m interested in the debris and seaweed that washes up on the shore, as none of it is permanent, and it’s left there incidentally, deposited by the waves. It’ll be washed away again the next day, and it will never be like that again, and I think that’s a really beautiful concept.
What does being chosen for Shine 2020 mean to you - both on a professional level and a personal level?
I was really thrilled to be selected for Shine 2020. When you're making jewellery, quite often you're just doing it by yourself, so it's great to be involved with a group of other makers, and everyone in the team at the Goldsmiths’ Centre as well.
What have you learned from the process of planning and creating your collection?
When I was planning this collection, I realised it's quite difficult to narrow down what you want to include. Because you're the one who's designing and making all the pieces, you spend a lot of time just with your work, so it becomes difficult to look at it objectively sometimes. It has been a helpful experience. I also tend to get a bit lost in the process of making a piece – I’ll sit down to start making something, and then three hours have gone by without me noticing!
What do you enjoy most about being a maker - for example, is the joy in the making itself, or in sharing the finished pieces with the world?
I think for me, it's the actual making process. It's just that when you're really into it, you get lost in the process, and I really enjoy that. Although it’s also great when someone else really enjoys wearing a piece as well; that’s so lovely.
What kind of person do you think will be most attracted to your collection, and to your design style in general - do you have a target audience in mind?
For this collection, because some of the pieces are quite bold and graphic, and quite androgynous, I’d expect someone who is interested in unique style to be interested in this collection. With lots of the pieces, even if they share the same aesthetic style, the pattern in each one is unique. For instance, with the wire inlay pieces, the pattern that is laid down each time is different – so even if you’re buying the same type of tube earrings, there’ll be no two pairs which are the same.
What are you most looking forward to about participating in Shine 2020?
One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the Meet the Maker events. So, because of the lockdown, I haven’t been able to go to the fairs that I would usually have shown at, and meet my customers face-to-face, which is one of the most enjoyable parts of doing those events. So, it’ll be great to actually get to talk to people like that again.
What's next - what are your creative and career goals for the next two years?
At moment I’m taking part in the Vanilla Ink programme in Glasgow, which is a professional development program with an exhibition at the end, with another great group of people. After that, I just want to keep building my portfolio, and I really want to start making some new work again, maybe developing a new collection alongside Na Mara.
So, would you describe being chosen for Shine 2020 as positive experience?
Definitely. The online programs that Shine have been running have been really good for developing an awareness of how you appear digitally, so I have lots of information about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (and much else) to get my head around!