Joan MacKarell

Joan is taking part in our coming Makers and Designers Market at Turner Contemporay on 4th and 5th December.

In my art work I strive to convey a narrative in miniature through my enamel jewellery and silversmithing designs.

My own story begins with a childhood spent on the North Atlantic shores of Inishowen, County Donegal Ireland. Coming from a family of farmers and Irish story tellers, my childhood was heavily influenced by the powerful landscape of ancient rocks and wild seas, mysterious bog lands and curious tales of animals both mythical and real.
In Ireland before television we ran free on the shores of Lough Swilly and even then I delighted in detail, making marks on the sand, creating patterns with pebbles and shells and pressing wild flowers and leaves. The year was marked by feasts and festivals and I competed in Irish Feis winning numerous awards for recitation, acting and story telling.
My aunt was a missionary nurse in India and every four years mysterious trunks appeared filled with exotic treasures, jewels and stones, ivory, amber and engraved metal pots and inlaid boxes. I became enchanted by intricate details and scale and all these rich childhood experiences have led to my personal approach to design and making in metal.

My first art training was in printed and woven textiles at Belfast art school and subsequently I qualified as an art teacher from Liverpool School of Art. During a period whilst teaching art at a girls’ school in Peckham, London, I discovered vitreous enamel on a weekend teachers course.
My first training in printed and woven textiles allowed me to convey colour and pattern but when I discovered the alchemy of firing glass to metal I retrained in enamel, silversmithing and jewellery at the famous Sir John Cass School of Jewellery and Silversmithing. This was a brilliant part-time skills based course taught by teachers who were experts in their trade.
Sadly the art of enamelling is now classed as an endangered craft in this country so I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and have taught numerous short course workshops in both this country and America. I am currently teaching on a yearly pre/apprentice course for 16 to 19 years old students at the Goldsmiths Centre in London and also teach short workshops in London and in my Faversham studio.

At present in my art work, having always been intrigued by the natural world I am currently focused on documenting the landscape around me in the marshlands of Faversham Creek. Discovering enamel was a revelation and for me is a true way to express all these influences and develop my narratives.

Author: nathalieb