Rachael works in silver, brass and copper to create wearable cherished objects. Heavily inspired by the natural world, British wildlife and the dual preservation/macabre of taxidermy; she utilises making as a way to process childhood memory – twisting it into folklore-like narratives through the use of animal representations. These animals are characters built from nostalgic remembrances, deeply held sentiment, and the duality of living between two worlds.
Rachael specialises in etching and piercing techniques that help bring texture and elaborate detail to an otherwise flat material. Etching textures taken from family heirlooms help to anchor the objects firmly in the narrative of her memories, and the past. By using accurate piercing, she is able to transcribe her ideas into the metal, much like the pen and ink drawings of her sketchbook. Drawing is a huge part of her process, as it is where memory and narrative begin to meld into a solid language of form.
Recently, Rachael has moved back to her home county of Leicestershire, soon after the birth of her first child. Whilst technically on maternity leave; she is still furiously planning her next collection and setting up a new workspace from her home.
In the past, Rachael has enjoyed being a member of Alloy Jewellers in Hereford between 2016-2018; allowing her use of a shared workshop and support from more experienced jewellers. She has also helped organize and taken part in several group exhibitions alongside a collective of other emerging makers. The latest being the WyeMake Showcase in 2016.
Why Hares and Wolves?
I make jewellery based on my childhood memories; but what does that have to do with Hares and Wolves and layered, textured things? It all starts with this tree.
I grew up living two lives; both very separate from one another, and as different as chalk and cheese. I would spent the week days with my maternal grandparents in the middle of a crowded council estate, and the weekends at my paternal grandparents house, which gave me access to nature in a way that I otherwise would have missed out on. When you are a child, you see things in a very black and white way. I knew that one half of my life was bad, and full of loneliness and hardship. I knew that the other was full of love and adventure and family. Of course, it wasn’t so simple; there were good and bad points to both sides of the situation, and adulthood has helped soften the worst of it into a kinder understanding. I got the very best i could expect from a difficult situation, and that’s all there is to it.
But weekends were my favourite. I spent much of them ensconced under this Holly tree, digging in the dirt and, without realising it, developing a strong understanding of the natural world around me. I made ‘friends’ with the wildlife that would pass through, and developed my own folklore for them all. I would take trips to the local deer park and woodland with my Grampa, and further that understanding in the wild places on our doorstep. It is on one of these trips that i discovered Hares.
I will preface this now by saying that i never saw one! Not until i was well into my twenties. But i saw lots of rabbits, and these would get commented upon and at some point someone said “There’s a thing called a Hare, and it’s a big big rabbit with huge ears and it runs faster than anything else!” and you can’t say something like that to an impressionable, daydreaming kid and expect her to forget it… It’s one of those things, for a town-kid. Animals you’ve never seen are doubted, because if you’ve never seen one, how can it be real? I remember seeing a stuffed hare in a museum once, and not being entirely sure if i believed there were such things roaming the British countryside. To me, they seemed as foreign as a lion. I knew badgers existed, if only because we frequently saw dead ones on the road. I knew foxes and hedgehogs existed, because they would come through the garden at night. I knew deer and squirrels and rabbits existed, because they were everywhere in our bit of the country. But not Hares. You never saw Hares.
Hares were mythic.
At some point someone else, probably a teacher at school, said; “There used to be Wolves and Bears all over the UK you know. They were hunted though, so there aren’t any left.” And suddenly Wolves joined my imaginary menagerie. When I ran in the woods, ghost wolves ran with me.
As with all memories of childhood, these recollections sort of get squished together. It might have only been one summer, or several that I ran with imaginary wolves and hunted mythic hares alongside dragons… It could have been just one game in between years of games, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s the memory that stuck.
A few years ago, I went back into education and started making jewellery. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was making, or why, but contrasts and dualities were a huge part of everything I made. Through lots of introspection, and development, I came to understand where these things stemmed from; my two weird lives, the life cycles I witnessed out in nature, and the folklore I picked up and made up for myself.
The holly tree isn’t there anymore. It was cut down not that long ago, and with my Grampa unable to keep up with such a big space, the house was sold. I mourn that house and what it was. I mourn my tree and the memories I made under it. My hares and wolves keep it alive. I use etching textures taken from aspects of that house and that time in my personal history; fabric from the dining chairs, a pattern from a photo album older than me. With these, I keep those things alive, and underpin the meaning in the resultant pieces. The Hares for all that is happy and mischievous and childlike. The Wolves for the dark and maturity and loss. Both for their polarity.