How refreshing it is to speak to an artist who relishes in the notion that his own practice is something that is ever evolving. The art world, at times, can be so definitive of its boundaries that pure and absolute creative expression can be hindered or bruised. Rather than becoming an idle dreamer, Seb Brown treats his work as an on-going extension of his ideas and inspirations via much experimentation. Hinting at ancient stories seen through modern day eyes, each metal piece acquires subtle differences — reflective of Seb’s own hand at work — creating a range of one-offs that, once passed on, start to then shape themselves on their new owners and environments.
This thread-able story of maker-to-keeper suggests that the evolution of Seb Brown’s work doesn’t end at the piece itself, really, that’s just the beginning. Each piece’s experience and life beyond the studio walls informs Seb for his next creation. The simple act of ‘making’ works for all of those involved. It’s a circular and beautiful exchange.
Interview with Seb Brown
In your own words, how would you describe Seb Brown jewellery?
An evolving experiment in texture and form, using mainly silver.
What was the motivation for starting your own brand?
I'm not really sure; I started making jewellery in 2010 on a small table in the living room. I never really planned for it to become so all encompassing, but I'm glad that it did!
When exploring the design process of your jewellery pieces, do you mostly rely on intuition or do you usually have a clear idea of what you want the finished piece to look like?
I work very fast, and intuitively. I draw a lot and some of the forms are repeated in my jewellery, but I don't sit down and design a piece and then make it. Each piece informs the next. I started off making work that was very colourful and influenced by tribal mark making and scarification, and now I'm making more minimal things with a high sheen and simple gestures; like a little hole on the face of a signet ring. I look at a lot of ancient relics and jewellery and I am fascinated by adornment and its consistent place in various societies since time immemorial.
Your practice is said to incorporate photography, collage and illustration. Between all of these mediums, what running thread do you find you are constantly coming back to?
I think it would be the tension between objects, shapes and textures. Rough and smooth, hard and soft, delicate and strong. For example, if I can't afford to make a 3-meter high fur statue and a 2-meter long bent wire structure, I can draw them and they exist there on the paper, I like the closure.
It's really exciting to see when all of these mediums collide. Why did you decide that you would combine all of these mediums, rather than solely dedicate your time and energy to any one of them?
I love layering photography and distorting ‘meaning’ by introducing two unexpected images together, and also being able to hide the naughty bits - it's like edging but again on paper. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision but it adds a point of difference, and a visual treat for the viewer.
Who in your life do you love to bounce your ideas off, and why do you feel this is necessary for your own practice?
I have a few 'muses' who I can think to myself 'would person X wear this'... My customers are the best people to bounce ideas off; they let me know if they like something by buying it! My studio mate Anna really helps in a practical sense - too long, too short, too ugly etc. Also if certain people hate something, I know its a good idea.
When you need to stop what you're doing for a while, how do you like to spend your time?
I'm a voracious reader of anything; it's a fantastic escape. Surfing always helps too!
What is something you wish you had more of?
What is something you wish you had less of?
Little tiny zip-lock bags!
What's coming up this year for you that you are excited about?
I have a collaborative show with Jessilla Rogers coming up in a few months, mainly ceramics and small sculptures. I'm also releasing a range of precious special occasion rings, so stay tuned for those!
Interview by Yasmine Ganley
Photography by Lilli Waters