The Finest Lighting: artists — #2 Jocelyn Burton

Jocelyn Burton triple swag wall light You may have seen a story last month in which the Duke of Edinburgh complained about "those infernal clasps" on necklaces. "You fiddle with them for hours, then they suddenly come undone and they fall on the floor but you have no idea why."

The comment was prompted by his being shown a picture of the £250,000 Jerwood necklace, made from gold Pacific pearls, black onyx, diamonds and a blue star sapphire, that is in the the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The Jerwood Necklace by Jocelyn Burton

The Duke was visiting an exhibition being held at Bentley & Skinner, the jewellers on Piccadilly. He was accompanied by Sir Roy Strong.

So, who is so eminent that they can hold an exhibition at one of the world's most prestigious jewellers -- one that warrants such important guests? And, to whom would the Chairman of the Jerwood Foundation turn to commission a £250,000 necklace?

The answer is Jocelyn Burton. She is, in the words of Mark Evans, the managing director of Bentley & Skinner, "...indubitably one of Britain's foremost living silversmiths". The good news for us is that she is also one of the most important makers of bespoke lights.

Jocelyn Burton Alabaster wall light

The alabaster wall light above is classical. We would maintain that no-one understands the classical language better than Jocelyn. Her work is underpinned by an innate sense of harmony, scale and proportion.

The candle stick below shows her working on a small scale. It was commissioned for someone whose passion is shooting. Notice the extreme delicacy of the work, reproducing so many textures. Notice also the apparently carefree, yet harmonious, arrangement of the hunting attributes:

Jocelyn Burton shooting plinth with candle stick

Now look at this:

Jocelyn Burton outdoor wall lightWhen I present Jocelyn's work using a Powerpoint presentation, I ask the audience how big they think it is. Then I show it in situ. Since this is a post, I can't spring this surprise on you, but, anyway, here it is...

Jocelyn Burton outdoor wall lights on chateau

...the point being that if the proportions are right, the size cannot be determined unless there is something else (a ruler, a person) with which an object can be compared.

In fact, if you come to us wanting some large outdoor wall lights for such a building, there is no-one else we could go to. It is not just a question of design; the finished product has be equally sound from a technical, lighting and engineering standpoint. Jocelyn works with a group of specialists that includes casters, chasers, jewellers, engravers, polishers, spinners and turners, but also engineers and lighting experts.

By definition, the work being commissioned does not exist until after the client has approved it. Yet, a lot of money will be at stake and there may be other concerns. For example, the reason why the Jerwood Foundation commissioned the Necklace was to incorporate pearls and precious stones in the Jerwood Collection. If the work was badly done, justice would not have been done to them, and they could even have been damaged in the process.

Jocelyn deals with how to let the client know what they are getting by creating the most beautiful 1:1 drawings of what she intends tomake. Here is the rendering of the outdoor wall light that we have just looked at:

Jocelyn Burton illustration of an outdoor wall light

Her draftsmanship ensures that it is wholly faithful to the finished object, as I'm sure you'll agree.

You have already seen many ways in which you can re-assure your client that she'll be the right artist for the job (if she is). But there also is another way. Besides her reference list, the awards she's won &c., Jocelyn's most potent "sales aid" is Jocelyn herself!

In the words of Sir Roy Strong, "Jocelyn Burton is one of life's originals, an explosive, opinionated, bubbling being, all of which is amply reflected in her work. Everything is very exactly and technically perfect. Her drawings for commissions rank as works of art in their own right."

Jocelyn Burton alabaster and olives

Her life story is therefore an exciting one.

When she chose to be a silversmith, the craft was dominated by men. She really had to fight to be taken seriously as a silversmith.  This was not so long ago -- the late '60s. It is by being as good as she is that she has played her part in enabling craftswomen to be taken as seriously as craftsmen.

She began her association with the Middle East after she won the De Beers International award for diamond jewellery in 1966 (while still a student). In the publicity photo taken at the time that shows the winning necklace, she is wearing an abaya that was given to her father by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Jocelyn Burton De Beers prize winning necklace

Later, “I was invited to exhibit some of my work at the very first luxury trade fair in the Gulf that was hosted in Dubai in 1976. I travelled there with Algernon Asprey and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and met Mohammed al Maktoum bin Rashid for the first time. Algernon had been one of the first interior decorators in the Guild to build palaces and grand houses.”

In the 1980s, she produced further work for the Middle East and she was commissioned to create many designs for the Sultan of Brunei, including a malachite barometer and an exquisite rose quartz cabinet.

“I’ve always had a deep appreciation of Arab art and architecture, particularly mosques and calligraphy, and I feel that there is still so much to learn about the culture in this regard. I also really enjoy applying my creative skills towards the interpretation of a client’s wishes.”

By the way, these quotes are taken from a very good interview with Jocelyn, The Queen of silver Linings, in Women Talking that can be read here.

You can see more of her work on her website -- besides lights, tableware, centrepieces, trophies (including cricket's Pataudi Trophy, currently being played for in India), jewellery, church silver, drawings and prints.

But let's finish by looking at some more lights!

Jocelyn Burton Fishmongers Sconce illustration

Jocelyn Burton taper candlestick

Jocelyn Burton outdoor light

Jocelyn Burton lights

Jocelyn Burton fluted alabaster quiver light with glass arrows


Thank you, Jocelyn.

This will be the last post to Fine Lighting News in 2012. You could say that we saved the best till last!

We wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Merry New year.

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Coup de Foudre hand made porcelain lighting

Coup de Foudre CFSWD ceramic pendant light One day, the Belgian lighting expert, Tom Claeys of Claeys Verlichting, attended an exhibition and was excited by the work of a ceramic artist that he saw there. He felt that an artist who could make such pieces would also make stunning lights. So he and Goedel Vermandere, with her partner Jan Arickx, pooled their relevant skills and the result is the Belgian lighting company, Coup de Foudre.

Their showrooms/workshop/home is a charming town house in Kortrijk -- home of the excellent biennial Interieur trade fair, of course, but also very Eurostar-friendly for anyone based in London, being just half an hour from Lille International.

There lighting is primarily made out of porcelain -- a wonderful material for this purpose because it adds such warmth. Though hard when it has set, the way the shapes are hand-formed results in a softness, a gentleness -- a cosiness.

And cosiness will become the most important attribute of any light used in domestic surroundings. Why? Because most of the time that we spend indoors is whilst it is dark and, in the winter, cold. Politicians are outlawing incandescent lamps, and many dwellings are now being built with no fireplace (imagine!) so, unless we specify for cosiness, people will live in dank, grey fluorescent light and everybody will be miserable. So cosiness matters! And so we need to be able to specify the porcelain lights of Coup de Foudre!! Anyway...

...this is like a fire when you first come across it...

Coup de Foudre CFLU075 porcelain pendant light

...and fascinating when you then see it close up...

Coup de Foudre CFLU075 porcelain pendant light

...every single piece being made separately, by hand, with the effects of light and shadow adding form and depth.

The setting (below) in which this large version of CFLU finds itself reminds us how well a natural, organic material like porcelain works with other natural materials -- the clay of the bricks, the wood of the beams, the unbleached cloth of the upholstery:

Coup de Foudre CFLUC0110 porcelain pendant light

Yes, it is usually dark when we are indoors, so lights tend to be on. But it is no good if they only look good when lit. The rectangular CFLURE looks great on...

Coup de Foudre CFLURE170 porcelain rectangular pendant light on

...and it also looks great off:

Coup de Foudre CFLURE170 porcelain rectangular pendant light of

The adaptability of these strong simple porcelain shapes is shown by how well this design fits into a panelled room...

Coup de Foudre CFLURE170 porcelain pendant light in a panelled room much as it does into a more contemporary, Asian-inspired space:

Coup de Foudre CFLURE170 porcelain pendant light

We particularly like CFSWD, which you can see at the head of this post, and here:

Coup de Foudre CFSWD165 ceramic rectangular pendant lig

The top part of this rectangular pendant light is quite formal, squares of porcelain being mounted side-by-side to make a frieze. But below them -- out  of them -- hangs a dense array of fabric-like, fluttering sheets.

We also love these carpets of delicate, feminine roses, used in several of the lights in their showroom, including a wonderful small ceiling light:

Roses in porcelain lights by Coup de Fooudre

As with any artist, it means so much more if you get the chance to meet them -- and even to see them work. Well, Kortijk is very accessible. But, in the meantime, do watch the film on their web site here.

They also make wonderful jewellery, using additional materials -- bark, copper, stainless steel -- to recall the natural forms that you might see at the beach. You can see a selection here.



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Nora de Rudder's work on show at the Musicalia festival in Ghent

Nora de Rudder Win's table light grey vleugellamp-gris The Musicalia Authentic Festival runs from Sunday 15th July to Sunday 22nd July in the magnificently decorated St Autbertuskapel of the Monasterium PoortAckere in Ghent (which is now a hotel, so you can stay in cloister of this peaceful former convent that dates back to 1278). The festival features the best Belgian jazz, folk, flamenco, classical, world, chanson and avant-garde music.

This year is also features the work of Nora de Rudder -- the "artist who makes lights". We have always presented her that way on the basis that an artist will add extra levels of meaning to what she makes.

In Nora's case, she often does this by using an unexpected material, the identity of which is not immediately apparent, because it is out of context. When the viewer does realize what it is, the meaning of the piece changes.

A very good example is the Wing's Lamp table light, shown at the head of this post (pigeon?), and here, in a white version (dove?):

Nora de Rudder Win's table light grey vleugellamp-gris

A light made from feathers -- well, it's beautiful, but other people do that, the best coming from Mat & Jewski. But, hang on a minute, those are not just feathers, they are the complete wings of a bird. Of a dead bird....

Her best known work is the legendary Mussel Chandelier:

Nora de Rudder mussel chandelier

But maybe my favourite is the Chandelier of Fragments.

Nora de Rudder chandelier of fragments

A chandelier made of glass? So what? Aah, but these are bits of broken glass such as you might find around a bottle bank. Now this most refined of objects -- the crystal chandelier, in a traditional tent and bag form -- is brought into the edgy, threatening world of the urban back street.

Besides the Wing's Lamps, you will able to to see at Musicalia the Meeting wall light:

Ontmoeting meeting wall light Nora de Rudder

an elegant, beautiful piece that suggests that the meeting is beautiful too (not all Nora's pieces have a Jekyll and Hyde effect!).

And, also is the loving mode (like a big, red SHOUT of love!) a Small Flame's Heart:

a small flame's heart wall light Nora de Rudder Vlammetjeshart

A good note to end on! Do explore further the beautiful, surprising and sometimes shocking work of this artist.



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The Finest Lighting: artists -- #1 Niamh Barry

Niamh Barry chandelier fouette II shoot july 2011 016rev Occasionally, you may have a client who deserves, will appreciate -- and will wait and pay for -- the very finest. This is one of a series of profiles of the Very Finest lighting makers.

Dublin-based Niamh Barry is presenting new work this week at Design Miami/Basel, in collaboration with New York's Todd Merrill gallery. This is Fouetté II, one of the works being included (that also featured in the Lux Craft lighting pavilion, part of the Origin Craft Fair at last year's London Design week).

It is a sculpture, but also a light -- a chandelier. There are light sources running continuously behind the opalized sides:

Niamh Barry Fouette II detail

The result is not just beautiful, but also technically clever -- power has to be transferred invisibly from link to link.

Fouetté II is therefore a great example of why Niamh is so special. It exemplifies Ovid's ars est celare artem. True art conceals the skills (in this case, engineering, electronic, mechanical) that have to be applied if it is to exist.

Other works in this series (which is, by the way, ideally suited to stair wells -- just ask Candy and Candy!) have a different character. Whereas the Fouetté evokes the feminine turns of a ballet dancer, this one is quite different -- jagged, aggressive (masculine?):

Niamh Barry chain light set

Niamh says of her work that " blurs the line between design and sculture, whilst always heavily imbued with the craft-based skills honed during a degree in ceramics." She has also worked as an art director and designer in the Irish film industry. Pieces created during the last 20 years feature in numerous international private collections in London, Moscow, New York and Dublin.

Besides her chandeliers, she's also designing table lights:

Niamh Barry table light 1

and wall lights:

Niamh Barry wall light 1

And not just lights! Here is a super desk that is also at Design Miami Basel:

Niamh Barry desk

Niamh is an artist: she will create something that is not just site-specific but also client-specific. In other words, if it is a residence, she will get to know not just the space into which her art work will go, and how it is used, but also the clients. By getting to know them, the right concept for them will emerge. I know, because I've seen it happen, that the client will love the experience. Not only are they pleased to be patrons, and to have something created specifically for and about them, but Niamh is as charming as she is competent. As a specifier, you can rely on her not just to create a rapport with the client, but then to create the light extremely efficiently. It will arrive on time, on budget, it will work and it will be beautifully finished. To be one of our Very Finest, these are essential criteria -- it is not enough just to be able to draw a pretty light....

Niamh Barry chandelier

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