SPACE: the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located, and all events occur.
CRAFT: an art, trade, or occupation requiring special skill. A ship or other vessel.
Definitions from: www.dictionary.com
Vittoria Street Gallery is pleased to present Space|Craft a solo exhibition by Stephen Bottomley featuring new and previously existing work. The show aims to capture material fragments and visual elements as a timeline or trail. This focuses on a slow, developmental process of material-based and practice-led enquiry that has taken place over the recent years and across several locations.
The journeys between his studio in Edinburgh, research time as a visiting artist in Bristol and his academic work in Sheffield, Edinburgh and now Birmingham have all helped shape the praxis that this exhibition seeks to unpack and examine.
Inspired by how ancient techniques can be applied creatively and harmoniously with evolving contemporary materials and technology, Bottomley is known for his hand-made precious metal vitreous enamel jewellery that often combines industrial materials through a range of batch production techniques. His work layers embossed repetitive patterns and textures on gentle rhythmic and geometric forms. Striking colours are applied to highlight an underlying modernist aesthetic style.
Born in 1967, two years before the Apollo 11 moon landing, Bottomley continues to be influenced by the space age as reflected and filtered through in literature, art, film, and TV. Ancient and Classical jewellery, Egyptian Art and the Renaissance have also been significant, alongside pulp and science fiction, and Japanese and Scandinavian design influences.
This exhibition features current test pieces and experimental ‘work-in progress’ with new materials in his vocabulary. Since 2016 and the ‘Adorned Afterlife’ research project he has been experimenting with Egyptian faience, a low-fire mixture of ceramic materials containing clay, sand, colorants, frits, and soluble salt traces.
‘A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do, with great artists; with artists like these we do really fly from star to star.’
(Proust (1923) La Prisonnie’re)
Stephen Bottomley is a Head of School and Professor of Jewellery Cultures and Innovation at Birmingham City University (BCU). He was previously Head of Department at the University of Edinburgh / Edinburgh College of Art (2008-17), Chair of the UK Association for Contemporary Jewellery (2005-07) and is currently co-chair of ‘Craft Cultures’ research cluster. Trained at the Royal College of Art (MPhil 1999-2001), the University of Brighton (MA 1996-98)-with an influential exchange to Rhode Island School of Design (1998) his first degree was at West Surrey College of Art and Design (BA Hons 1986-89).
Bottomley’s jewellery is in collections at the National Museums Scotland, British Museum, South East Arts Collection and Royal College of Art. Recent published papers include ‘The adorned afterlife research network’ in the Journal for Jewellery Research (Volume 1, 2018)
Links: Twitter @Vittoria_St