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On the Surface I grew up in a very small market town in the Epping Forest District of Essex county, NorthEast of London. My finest memories were forest walks and beach combing with my father to hunt for fascinating objects which I gathered up and collected. I remember trips to the London museums: admiring mysterious and perfectly proportioned timeless objects made by ancient civilizations, being fascinated by strange mechanical contraptions in the Science Museum, and the pleasure of exploring drawers and jars full of real specimens of strange preserved animals in the Natural History Museum. I graduated with my Master of Arts degree in 1991. At the time I was at the Royal College of Arts studying “goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork and jewellery”, the course was structured towards production, although the final degree show project was mostly free. While I was never interested in production this was probably of great help later on in terms of organisation and discipline in the workshop, and if anything it made me realise how precious time is, how much I enjoy making every aspect of my jewellery myself, slowly but surely and without having any of it produced so that I can really savour my dialogue with the material and make my jewellery my art.

Living in a country where they say “no one is in a hurry” has really opened my eyes as to the basic pleasures in life: enjoying the outdoors, having summer and watching the seasons change. Italy is so rich in history and everywhere has traces of the past. It is just inspiring to explore and absorb all this history, it is all around me all the time and wherever I go. I have been fascinated by the natural world since my early childhood and remain in awe over the infinite combinations of form, structure, texture and colour that it has created over millions of years of evolution. In my work, I abstract nature and seek to communicate brief impressions of what I have observed and encountered. Working from large and small-scale drawings and sketches made from life (zoos, museums, aquariums, botanical gardens), I continually collect visual information about nature’s forms, structures, surfaces, textures and colours (including via digital macrophotography) and “translate” the elements that most inspire me, into tiny, paper sculptural models, before finally moving on to construct the final piece in precious metals.

I moved to Padua and set up a studio in 1992. After the chaos of London, and though it took a while, living in Italy has really slowed me down in a positive sense. Since 2001 I have lived in Todi, which is in the Umbrian region of Italy and I feel I have grown into this country very gradually and the slow Italian lifestyle really complements my work philosophy. I apply this slowness, calm and beauty in my jewellery making every day.

Todi, Umbria, Italy, 2019


Profile for The Scottish Gallery

Jacqueline Ryan | On The Surface | August 2019 | The Scottish Gallery  

Jacqueline Ryan | On The Surface | August 2019 | The Scottish Gallery