Meeting Tom McDowell at New Designers last July was a hoot. His new jewellery collection – based on children’s drawings – is so refreshingly different that we knew his colourful pieces would be a great addition to our exhibition at the Barbican this winter.
Tom believes that the act of wearing jewellery is too often a formal activity, and that it’s important for us to sometimes let go of the seriousness of being a grown-up. He works with children and through his jewellery seeks to share their fresh, fun outlook on life with adults.
In his jewellery Tom uses anodised aluminium, silver, and a variety of other media. This knobbly kneed giraffe, for instance, has patches of flocking, making it very tactile. The birds often incorporate real feathers. Each piece conveys a real sense of personality, and I’m sure each will become particularly treasured once in the hands of the right owner.
Beautifully designed and made, the silver rivets are often functional as well as decorative. Aluminium is an unforgiving material: not easy to work with, but Tom uses it in a way that maximises it’s strengths: it’s colourful, light in weight, and can be very graphic.This is jewellery that I think really will help to meet his aim of making the world a more smiley and enjoyable place. This little chicken brooch certainly works for me!