Jewelwithy is a collaborative project I set up in 2016. It focuses on the critically endangered craft of withy pot making in the South West and involves documenting withy pot participants through film and photography with Cornwall College. In response to this research I have created a story, illustrated with etched brooches and prints, which were displayed at MAKE southwest September - November 2022, alongside a selection of research and inside an exhibition book. During this exhibition there were also talks, demonstrations and opportunities to make a section of a withy pot.
This project has become a personal journey for me, sadly my partners’ father, a Cornish fisherman, passed away before meeting our two children, which meant that many of his stories could not be passed on. As I grew into parenthood my project took on a deeper meaning. The craft was quickly fading, and with it, a precious part of my children’s heritage which holds values and principles I would like to teach them.
My jewellery has always been conceptual and I wanted to explore this further by using it as a tool to illustrate a story.
I have an interest in the connection people have with plants and nature which also forms important ingredients needed when making and using a traditional withy pot. This interest partly stems from her childhood, when imagining fairy-tales and exploring the tiny natural world they live in, which I now share with my two boys.
The South West is famous for its myths and legends and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to create a story that includes my children as salix piskies.
I hope this project will in some way help to raise awareness of the very special withy pot craft and ignite the imagination in families and their children. Next time you come across a willow tree, stop and listen, maybe you will hear a salix pisky!