Jewellery Design with Polly Collins
Hi Polly! You’re a jewellery designer who makes pieces using brass, silver and gold. What gave you your start in the creative world? Have you had any other artistic pursuits?
My mum was a huge influence growing up and is quite possibly the most creative person I have ever met. She has crafted her own surreal world in the middle of the countryside and makes all of her own clothes having spun and died the wool, or old curtain, herself. She encouraged us to value drawing and making over anything else. I think I was destined to end up at art school, despite my love for maths.
After graduating, I was a picture framer and then a shoe maker before moving to Bristol, whilst keeping the jewellery very much on the back burner. I feel so grateful that I can finally call it my full time job. My frugal upbringing has engrained a sense of trying not have too much of an impact on the world, triggering the dilemma as a maker as to whether or not we actually need any more stuff. I try to only work with recycled or repurposed metals when I make my jewellery, which feels like a small step in the right direction.
A signature of your designs is a pensive looking face. What is it about this design that you like so much? Can you tell me the story behind it?
This face is the result of a lot of pent up drawing energy following my jewellery and silversmithing degree at the Edinburgh College of Art. The course introduced me to so many different skills, but my favourite class was the life drawing every week for the whole three years. I think I really wanted to be studying illustration too, but I loved the three dimensions of metal.
I never quite transferred the face into my work then, but made a moon ring for my pal Jode Pankhurst after we graduated and her super insta-fame sent the little moon face viral. I have been making these to order for about five years now, which blows my mind a bit. They keep me entertained as I hand cut them all, they are kind of like miniature drawings and all with slightly different expressions.
I’d like you to imagine you’ve been commissioned to make a piece of jewellery that would be given as an award for the winner of the (currently hypothetical) Who’s Flying the Plane? Art Competition. What sort of design would you go for?
I think I would make a smallish bird-like aeroplane creature from brass or maybe even silver! It could be worn as a pin or, when not being worn, perch on top of a wire that is held in a small piece of bog oak wood. This is my favourite kind of wood, as the oak has taken on its ebony colour through hundreds of years being submerged in a bog.
What would you like to offer up as your WFTP hidden gem?
It would have to be the Centrespace gallery and studios in Bristol, where I have recently taken on a studio space. Tucked away in the old town, it was started in the 70’s by a group of artists, who transformed the old factory into a labyrinth of rooms and it still runs as co-operative today. The gallery has a new exhibition on every week too.
Thanks a lot for chatting with me Polly! Where can we buy your designs? Please give me any links and social media info so we can keep up to date with what you do.
It’s been a joy! I keep things updated on my Instagram page @polly_collins and have an online shop too. My work is stocked in a few galleries and shops, including the Ottowin Shop in Bristol and the newly opened Oaken in Falmouth.