Starting an Artist’s Residency at Loughborough Uni

by Jamie Hall on October 13, 2010

I put a post up a couple of months ago, about applying to the AA2A programme. In short, the programme aims to get practicing artists into University and College workshops across Britain, giving the artist access to facilities, and the students access to practicing artists. You can find out more information on the AA2A website.

The good news is, I was sucessful. I put in three applications, to Derby, Nottingham and Loughborough. Notttingham rejected me outright, Derby gave me an interview but turned me down, and Loughborough, thank goodness, understood what I’m doing, and offered me a place based on my application – I attended an interview last week, but it seems to have been a formality, or possibly they were just checking that I wasn’t completely insane (after all, even sociopaths can write good applications).

Silver Knotwork Bangle

One of the main concerns that I had with my application was supplying examples of my work. Fortunately, everything came together – we received a commission for an anticlastic bangle while I was writing up my application, and then my dad found some fine silver bullion in a cupboard – we didn’t even know how long it had been there! That was used to make a chased knotwork bangle (pictured) and some synclastic earrings. You can look at the photographs for my application on Flickr (you can look at a few other photos, too, if you look at my photostream).

Now, the difficult part begins. The initial stage is navigating the Kafka-esque bureaucracy of the university, but once I’m past that, I’ll be able to work according to my own schedule. It’s going to be a slightly strange experience, working in an educational establishment – very different to the commercial environment I’m used to. Safety procedures will be more significant, but that might be a good thing for me to see – the trade tends to be very under-regulated, in my opinion.

One thing I’m very excited about is access to the university library. They have a wide range of books themselves, and they can get me many other texts via inter-library loans. I should also be able to get access to journal articles and research papers. My AA2A liason even suggested that I should get a reader’s pass for the British Library in London.

The workshop facilities themselves seem very good, and I’ve met a few technicians, who seemed interested and helpful, and weren’t even eating cold spaghetti hoops out of the tin, which is always a good sign. They’ve got a lot of large silverworking machinery, a blacksmith’s forge, and modern wood and metal facilities for tool making. They don’t have any small machinery, like we do at the shop, but that shouldn’t be an issue, because I’ll be doing a lot of work with traditional handtools, and half the reason for pursuing this project is getting outside my comfort zone. I’ll write more about facilities later, when I’ve had a chance to examine them in detail.

Process Chart Version 2

I’ve arranged a couple of meetings tomorrow, first with the head technician, and then an induction for the silversmithing workshop. I’ll then be able to start on some practical work, and fit my other inductions and meetings around that. I’m really excited by having some facilities to use. My original plan to build a workshop in my yard is on hold now, until next summer – I want to concentrate on Loughborough as much as I can – the programme only lasts for 6 months, so I can’t squander the time I have.

I hope to get a lot out of this experience. Loughborough School of the Arts is a prestigious arts centre, so it will do wonders for my profile and CV. I’ll also get to exhibit my work towards the end, which is a first for me, and will give me an understanding of the way that work and information should be displayed; because the Primitive Method is meant to be educational as well as practical, information posters and graphics will be just as significant as the finished pieces. One of the posters I’ll be putting up is a flowchart of medieval techniques (pictured above). It’s only a work-in-progress, but if anyone wants the most recent PDF version of the document, comment here or email me, and I’ll send you a copy.


RuthFT October 13, 2010 at 22:34

Fantastic flow-chart! Keep working on it, it would be really useful for us archaeologists/archaeo-metallurgists too :) And congratulations on getting the placement, sounds pretty cool :)

Jamie Hall October 13, 2010 at 22:45

Thanks! It will be at least A2 by the time it’s finished. Ideally, I’d like to go to A1, and include symbols for the tools used in each process. But I might be getting too big for my boots. It’s surprising how easily it falls into an ordered flowchart – the first version was very messy, but this one seems quite simple.

Laurie Kern October 14, 2010 at 16:59

I love the pictures of your work… now I want to make the knot work bangle for myself!! GOOD JOB

Jamie Hall October 14, 2010 at 17:23

Hi Laurie. There are various photos of the bangle on Flickr. I should be writing a post about it soon, but I’ve not had time so far.

In short, you find or draw a knotwork pattern, glue it to your metal, and punch in the dot pattern that forms the basis of the knotwork band. You can also put in the straight lines at this point, or if you’re really confident, take the pattern off and put the straight lines in manually. I used a slightly blunted steel chisel to do it. What I was really pleased with was not using a pitch bowl for this – I took a piece of leather, rubbed it with beeswax and weighed one end of the silver down with a steel block. When the chasing started to bend the metal, I just bent it back. You can’t get it perfectly flat, but as long as it’s convex it will sit properly. In total, the piece took about 3.5 hours. Not bad for a first attempt.

If you want to know how to draw knotwork, there’s a great tutorial for hand or computer on the Celtic Computer Art website, which is listed on my links (see right).

Robin October 16, 2010 at 00:42

Jamie I am pleased for your residency especially as its at Loughburgh with its technical facilities (I used to go to meetings there). I will be looking with interest at your progress on your blogs. All the best.

livelybrowsers October 19, 2010 at 17:43

Thanks for good stuff

James Miller October 23, 2010 at 12:48

Best of luck with your residency, I am not sure what your recidency involves so I will follow your blogs with interest.
Some years ago I was considering applying for a jewellery residency at South Hill Park in Bracknell, they have fine workshops there but when I looked into it, the recidency, which allowed me free access to the facilities and a workshop of my own but as well as teaching some daytime classes it also involved me teaching classes during evenings and weekends and my wife told me NO WAY!!!
Good luck, James

Jamie Hall October 25, 2010 at 16:30

Hello again James. I hope you’re keeping well. I don’t have to do any teaching duties, I just have to be available if students ask what I’m doing. I’ll be doing some research-focused work on techniques, but I’ll hopefully be producing some works – I designed a knotwork cross recently, for example, which I might chase in gilding metal or some other cheaper metal, and then use a box lid. If I have time, I’d also like to try making a chalice, but whether my skills are up to that is questionable.

PS. My daughter was born yesterday, she’s called Emily, and she’s very lovely.

James Miller October 25, 2010 at 19:01

Jamie, I am well thank you and I am still keeping busy doing a small amount of antique restoration work.
Congratulations on the arrival of Emily, my daughter is planning her wedding for next year so my bank balance is due for a caning!
Knotwork is a great design concept that has withstood time itself.
Good luck with your projects, James

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post:

WordPress Admin