Penelope Brittain is a Contemporary Jeweller with a preoccupation for plants. From an early age, she would spend hours pressing flowers, making daisy chains and embroidering flowers on to almost anything she could find.
She has studied Fashion & Textile Design and Jewellery Design, graduating from Curtin University with Distinction in 2015. Each piece is hand crafted from start to finish and designed to be a beautiful object and treasured keepsake.
My work is a reflection on the complexity of life and the beauty in the ephemeral. It is about the many wondrous things we experience and also the times we may be tested. Finding beauty wherever we can, having empathy, gratitude and patience. It is a story of what it means to think and feel. An ode to native plants and succulents that are so hardy, resilient and beautiful and by extension an ode to what it means to be alive.
Most days I go for a walk along the beach or river, surrounded by native flora and the natural landscape and am always uplifted, especially when the day has been long. I listen to music, take a break from thinking about anything challenging or mundane and focus on the beauty around me. I stop to marvel at interesting bits of flora. I pick up and study leaves and shells that are in my path and imagine what the things I have seen might look like in metal. I start thinking about the methods I could use to recreate and honour them. I take photos of plants I haven't seen before and later try to find out their names and research their characteristics. I am interested in their biology, distribution and survival mechanisms. Examining the ways of nature is intrinsic to the way I make sense of the world around me.
Leaves and flowers are impermanent. Sometimes we only get to enjoy them for a short time, so I see them as a reminder of the fleeting beauty of life. Flowers are given in times of sadness and in times of celebration, so they are a symbol of the light and dark we all experience in life.
One of my favourite parts of the metalsmithing process is figuring out how to join the elements together and secure them to the body, often using techniques that allow a sense of movement, mixing different materials and embracing asymmetry.
There's something powerful and comforting about holding on to a tangible item in memory of a loved one or time of celebration. Some of my most treasured possessions were given to me by someone I love, belonged to a close relative now gone or were for a special occasion. When I hold or wear those pieces I feel such a sense of warmth and connection. I hope that the works may serve as a beautiful reminder of love or a special moment in time.