Lindsey Mann

Portrait of Lindsey MannBird Brooch on TwigBrooches on stands
Getting to know you brooch - photo Helen Gell
Sea Legs Sally

Winchester-based jeweller Lindsey Mann makes lively, colourful pieces using printed aluminium, plastics, silver and found domestic objects. She calls them wearable sculptures rather than jewellery as many of her pieces can both be worn and used as an ornament to decorate the home. Her work references domestic crafts, home interiors and household gadgetry and she says, ‘I am interested in the significance and beauty of everyday objects and the way in which they can so easily be overlooked.’


Have you always been interested in making jewellery?

Yes, I’ve always made things, especially jewellery. As a child I spent a lot of time dismantling things and making them into jewellery. But I was also interested in print too. I did an A-level in textiles and spent quite a lot of time doing screen printing during the course. My jewellery making skills developed during an art foundation at Winchester School of Art, and then I went on to do my degree in jewellery at Middlesex University. The jewellery I make now is still connected with textiles through the use of printed pattern.

How important to you is the relationship between your jewellery and the wearer?

I like the fact that my jewellery is worn, but I also design it as an ornament for the home so it has a dual purpose. During my degree I made a series of collaged pictures using metals and printed papers which incorporated removable brooches – they were like display stands for the jewellery – and I have continued to develop this theme. I like the fact that when you put on the brooch you are taking a piece of your domestic decoration out and about. Not everyone sees inside your home so wearing a part of it in public means that everyone can see a bit of your hidden life, your identity.

How do you go about making your jewellery?

My work is inspired by found fragments of domestic flotsam and jetsam, so I might find an item like a button for instance, that I want to use and then I start thinking how I can best make a feature of it. I normally draw a sketch and sometimes make a paper mock-up so I can work out where everything will go. I then design a pattern and transfer it onto anodised aluminium sheets using a heat transfer press – the prints are normally evocative of homely textiles such as gingham. It’s important to me that the pieces have a domestic tone. I then create a setting for the found object(s) using layers of flat sheets of printed metal and perhaps vintage plastics. I often leave some areas cut out so you can catch glimpses of the other layers beneath. I like to expose the assembly techniques I use so that the tiny rivets and screws holding the jewellery together become a feature in themselves and reinforce the mechanical aesthetic.

Jewellery has traditionally been made out of precious materials, do you think that by using non-precious materials you are changing its role?

Not at all, my jewellery is still something to be valued by the wearer. It’s just a different kind of preciousness. The preciousness of my jewellery comes from the lovely things I find and the way in which I incorporate them into the work. For example, I think that a decorative button can sometimes look more lovely and carry more meaning than a precious stone. I use lots of found materials in my work – left over scraps of wallpaper, colourful plastic knitting needles, ball bearings etc – and I consider these materials objects in their own right and try to promote their importance and emphasise their intrinsic beauty in my jewellery. To me they have just as much inherent beauty and interest as precious materials.

Is its playful element an important part of your jewellery?

I hope my jewellery will delight the wearer and make people smile. It is quite toy-like. A lot of the pieces have moving elements in them and some have buttons that look as though you can push them and the jewellery will come alive. There are brooches with spinning propellers which could start moving if caught by the wind as you walk, and some have pendulums that swing and ball bearings that roll around. The moving parts prompt interaction between wearer, brooch and possibly a third party.

You have recently worked on a public commission making wall pieces and designing porthole windows for Taunton & Somerset Hospital Trust. Does this mark a departure away from jewellery for you?

The Hospital project was a really exciting thing to do and it was very interesting working on a bigger scale, but it doesn’t mean that I am going to abandon my jewellery practice. I enjoy working in lots of different ways and like plenty of variety. I am going to do some large-scale mobiles for the children’s ward at the hospital soon. I would also like to concentrate on my one-off jewellery pieces. I plan to start work on making some new wall-pieces which incorporate jewellery but which are also sculptural pieces in their own right. I am also thinking about automata, which is something I have tinkered with in the past. I find it really hard to stay still and so my work is ever evolving!