Inspired by nature
Nature inspires many people in many different ways from enjoying walks in Scotland's outdoors to deciding to work in conservation to creating amazing works of art. In this blog we hear from Eileen Gatt, a jewellery designer, on how nature inspires her.
RSPB Scotland Fairy Glen (Andy Hay (rspb-images.com))
Nature is a central theme of much of what will be on show at this year’s Elements Festival of gold and silver jewellery in Edinburgh, and where RSPB Scotland has a private view morning which you are welcome to attend (details at the end of this blog). The first of its kind in Scotland, it’s a celebration not only of the beauty of precious metals, but of the creative minds and dextrous hands of the craftspeople who create extraordinary objects including Scottish based jewellery designer Eileen Gatt who has been designing and making jewellery for over 20 years from her home on the Black Isle. We caught up with Eileen ahead of the show to find out more about the inspiration behind her work and her love of Scottish wildlife.
1. How would you describe your work in three words?
Charming, whimsical and serene!
2. What does a typical day as a jeweller look like?
There is no typical day in a jeweller’s life! And that’s the thing I love most about my job. Every day is different; some days I am doing research, exploring new ideas and developing new design concepts, other days I am on the bench making. I also love to meet my customers at selling events. The most wonderful thing is the diversity and having the freedom to be creative.
3. What do you do or where do you go when you’re looking for inspiration?
I feel incredibly fortunate as I never go looking for inspiration, it finds me! I am surrounded by stunning winter landscapes, and spectacular wildlife. The quaint fishing villages that adorn the Black Isle’s coastline are rich in inspiration, both visually and culturally. I can be inspired by a story, a legend, a bird in flight or the ropes that moor the boats to the harbour walls. Inspiration is everywhere!
Hare ring by Eileen Gatt
4. Has wildlife always inspired your work, or did this develop into a dominant theme over time?
Wildlife has always featured heavily in my work. Having grown up in the Highlands, it provided me with a wealth of inspiration, it’s rich and diverse landscapes provide unique habitats for an abundance of amazing wildlife. At the beginning of my career I travelled to Alaska to work with Inuit stone carvers, they tell traditional folklore stories through their sculptures and bring them into today’s modern world. This trip has fuelled my ideas ever since.
I am interested in Scottish folklore and by polar landscapes. I love to visit the Cairngorms and I am especially interested in creating pieces that feature indigenous Scottish wildlife. I aim to capture the character of the creature whilst retaining a pure and simple aesthetic. This cold winter landscapes are echoed in the soft white silver finishes that adorn my work.
5. You’re from the Black Isle, where our Fairy Glen nature reserve is situated, have you spent much time there?
The Fairy Glen is a truly enchanting place! As I mentioned previously I am influenced by folklore and stories and this place brings together all my favourite things! The wildlife and the tranquil waterfalls culminate in a truly magical experience. I can feel the ‘fairies’ all around. Definitely one of my favourite haunts!
6. Do you have a favourite wild animal or plant, and if so why?
My favourite wild animal would have to be a hare (my logo after all!) I find them such amazing majestic creatures, and when I see one it makes me stop in my tracks! They feature heavily in mythology, a sign of fertility and good luck!
My favourite plant would be a rowan tree. Again they feature heavily in my work. I love the abundance of red berries that I see the birds feast on. I always remember my grandfather telling me that a rowan tree with a full crop of berries is an indicator of a harsh winter (very harsh this year) - I love a bit of weather lore! Rowan trees were also traditionally given as gifts for wedding presents or to celebrate births, as they warded off witches and fairies!
7. What role, if any, do you think silversmiths and the arts have in highlighting the issues affecting wildlife and the environment?
I think it is a great way to highlight these issues; anything that creates dialogue and gets people talking has to be good. I do plan to create a range of pieces that highlight such issues, I’ll keep you posted.
We’d be delighted if you could join us on Saturday 5th November for a private view of the Elements Festival in Edinburgh – details above. This exclusive event will give you a chance to browse and purchase unique jewellery and beautifully crafted objects before the doors open to the public that day. It’s a great opportunity to do a spot of early Christmas shopping, whilst enjoying a selection of tea, coffee and Walker’s shortbread. If you’d like to attend please contact email@example.com.