| was recently asked a very interesting question; ‘What shapes your ‘Englishness’?’
I have tried to formulate some answers here...
Although it has not evolved through a process of conscious decision making, perhaps it is my selection process for the materials I incorporate which makes my work quintessentially English...?
I believe that my aesthetic preferences point me towards selecting objects and materials, which although not necessarily English in origin, have no identifiable heritage. I collect things from my travels like any other, but until recently, I have not travelled extensively and these finds remain as relics and are not generally incorporated in my pieces.
My passion for objects which have aged makes it very difficult for me to destroy them to incorporate them in my work, this potentially means I focus on the more readily obtainable, those items produced in quantity, or those with lesser intrinsic value.
I have at times utilised materials such as rawhide from Mexico and silk cocoons from the Far East, but I tended to combine these with text from old English books.
I was asked a similar question a number of years ago which stumped me a little: Why did I select only English text to use in my work? I decided that this was due to my love for words. I use text for its meaning, therefore I need to understand its meaning. A large influence in my life has been that of my grandmothers, Lily Pond and Annie Davidson. The former used to write poems for me and my brother, see my earlier blog post and the latter gave me an understanding of improvisation and a passion for Cockney rhyming slang. The time/era in which these ladies lived also holds an aesthetic close to my heart.
The Pond Family
Could my colour palette be somewhat English? Colour often identifies culture or has symbolic reference; I tend towards earthy tones which I believe stems from my early childhood discoveries (through metal detecting) of rusted objects and coins with a patina of age. These finds filled me with excitement and wonder.
As a child of the seventies, I also grew up in an environment of magnolia paint and wood- chip wallpaper!
Bought up around the arts, with a creative father and a mother who worked at South Hill Park Arts Centre and enrolled me on many courses, I think my passions were embedded at an early age. Possibly the need to entertain myself in a time before the huge impact of electronic gadgetry we have today, improvisation and a make-do-and-mend thrifty attitude led me to employ elements to convey my narratives. The honesty of utilising the original instead of replicating it provided exactly the quality I required within my pieces.
So, is this 'Englishness' transportable? I do feel that my work would change should I move to a different country; what was around me would have an effect, in the same way as the narratives I choose to respond to do now. I moved to the countryside two years ago and am keeping a keen eye on any developments!
If you have any thoughts or comments, I would be interested to read them…
"By modifying and transforming everyday materials to jewellery, Jo Pond invests them with the power to enchant or fascinate us. At the same time, her works become the vehicles for narratives that reach out beyond the here and now. Her handling of transient objects imbues them with lasting value as art. And as wearers of this jewellery, she gives us a new means to express our attitudes and values." Jorunn Veiteberg.
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