Interview with Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray discusses her work with MOST's Liz Cowley. You can see her pieces inspired by the Museum in the No. 12 Breakfast Parlour as part of the current pop-up gallery 'Studies for My Mind', during the London Design Festival. They are on display until the 21st of September.

Amphora Garland by Jennifer GrayHeadphones for Soane by Jennifer Gray









How did you make the Amphora Garlands? And what material are they made from?

I try as far as possible to make work that is timely.  I have learned to use techniques and materials which have gone before me and combine this knowledge with what is available to me today to create something new. 

I have managed to utilise my wax carving techniques when carving digitally using 3D modelling computer packages.  A virtual block of wax appears on my computer screen and I carve it using the same carving methods as I use on a real block of wax. For this method I replace my steel wax carving tools for a USB drawing tablet. My work is not defined by the use of new technologies. I integrate in as part of my process. The pieces I make would not be possible without my experience of both traditional and current digital methods. I want to demonstrate that new technological approaches can blend naturally into a piece of work as a means to build upon what’s gone before. I cast the final pieces in jesmonite and reconstituted marble in a mixture of marbled tones, which are then deliberately distressed to give the impression of something more ancient.  Jesmonite is much lighter and more comfortable to wear than real stone but still feels like stone to the touch.

Why is interactiveness a feature of these pieces?

In the case of 'Amphora Garlands' the piece gives the wearer a sense of experience as they can adorn themselves in a stone garland, wear it comfortably then place it back onto its stone Urn to complete it as a classical ornament. Each piece has been crafted using the best of modern and traditional techniques.  The are quite unique in theme and making methods.  Customers receive not only a finely crafted item but the experience of using the item which is more than just decorative.

What other exhibitions do you have coming up?

I have just finished an exhibition series with the Aram Gallery Prototypes and Experiments and SOFA Chicago. I'm exhibiting at the Landscape Trade Show, Battersea next week.

As well as exhibiting work I will also be taken out by Crafts Scotland and will be a speaker on a panel of designers and curators from the UK, and I am working with The National Museum of Scotland to make medieval atrefacts using a blend of traditional and digital techniques.

I am also working on a new range of works inspired by Soane Museum which will hopefully be available to buy next year.

Could you explain a little about your creative process?

My inspiration comes from many places, History, Classical and Neo Classical Sculpture and artefacts and stories.  I like to reinterpret stories of people, places and happenings through my work.  My pieces tell stories and give clues to their origin through titles such as ‘Heads Will Roll!’ and ‘Diamond in the Rough’ I use humour or light satire to blend historical themes with the modern.

I have always been fascinated with objects.  In some cases I feel crafted artefacts are our only means of mapping certain historical times. They will always outlive their makers and the storytellers.  Some appear to idealise a time period while others are more humble, yet all epitomise the maker and their relationship with material and time. I was inspired by the architectural fragments spread all over the Soane Museum.  I drew 7 seperate elements chosen from the collections which included a portrait bust of John Soane himself.  I digitally carved the 7 forms, 3d printed them, cast them in wax, re carved and cast them in jesmonite to make products such as the garlands, wall ties and headphones. 

Become a friend of the Soane and help secure our future.