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Developed and made during the same period as the ‘Pestle’ neckpieces these items also incorporate a solitary found stone in conjunction with other elements to create a wearable, statement piece of jewellery.

Often when I am making, I do so reactively as opposed to proactively; the objects that I have literally picked up along the way – from beach, pavement and soil – gather themselves and speak to me, telling me what they want to become. I do not necessarily know exactly what that is until the process is ‘complete’ (all works, and all series of works, are in progress, no matter how finished we think they are). The best version of anything is always the next one.

As always, I have my own version of events; why they exist, why they are that shape, that size, that colour. If I don’t always know these things until after they have manifested themselves, this is because I don’t want to know; I want to be led, to a certain extent, by material qualities, by processes, by listening, by gut and by chance. Even when I have had time to reflect on these outcomes and processes and formulate some kind of cohesive explanation of them, I am often surprised and fascinated by the interpretations that others bring to my work.

These four pieces were made between 2017 and 2020, a period during which there was a good deal of change and upheaval for my family and me and a period of time imprisoned in a storage unit for them. Their incompleteness at times frustrated me, at others reassured that whatever else was in flux, these half-mades were a constant; I had invested too much in them not to finish them.

They start with the stone – what characteristics does each have that can be complemented by the made elements? If this thing is to be partnered with something of my hand, what is this rock urging my brain to make manifest? That the stone has too been crafted becomes obvious with a little thought; all it and the forces and time that burnished it are lacking is intent. It exists autonomously and entirely without agenda, purpose or meaning. It is simply and mutely on its way to sand. I am, of course, aware that just because I have plucked it temporarily from its journey, that does not mean that it is one day not going to be sand. I have simply given it a chance to shine, separate from all the others, so that it has its deserved day.

And what of my craft and the objects it shapes – does it too lack intent? Has it an agenda, a purpose, a meaning? Autonomy? Stones are our only witness to the extraordinary and humanly unfathomable expanse of geological time – we have nothing older and we have nothing that will last as long. We all live on one; how different and futile are my temporary efforts and crafts compared to stone in both the physical and metaphysical realms then. Whether these things that coalesce under my guidance have meaning or purpose is open to interpretation, but they – I – most certainly have an agenda; to shine and to have whatever day they or I deserve.

Robin Shelton 

Devon, December 2023