Alison Bailey Smith - the Wirral jewellery designer who's wired for style
PUBLISHED: 09:35 11 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:07 20 February 2013
Television wires and old plastic in jewellery ? Alison Bailey Smith creates beautiful eco-friendly pieces in Oxton WORDS BY ELIZABETH SHORT PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATT KELLY
Techno cannibal is one of the intriguing descriptions applied to Alison Bailey Smith because of her eco-friendly jewellery creations.
Her trademark designs consist of necklaces intricately made with television wires. Alison has been making jewellery for 13 years since completing a degree at Edinburgh College of Art. She recalls: I began experimenting with television wires when my brother, who had just started working as a BBC technician, suggested I do something with the coils you find at the back.
To go with her ecological concept, Alison takes an organic theme. On some necklaces she emphasises the coppery colours of the wires, creating flame-like shapes. Other pieces are a minty green colour and shaped like leaves and flowers. At first, I used to solder the wires, melting them, but then I started experimenting with weaving techniques. I decided my jewellery looked much better using the latter.
She has enjoyed a busy summer showcasing her work to great acclaim - at various exhibitions across the North-West. Recycling plays a prominent role in Alisons jewellery. She has worked with Wirral Council to help create eco friendly art projects. I recently revamped my kitchen and donated all of my old cupboards to a project. Local artists, some of whom had never incorporated recycling into their art, helped create some really good pieces.
In todays financial climate, Alisons concept of making junk into something beautiful is apt. Using cheap, yet hardwearing materials such as metal wire means the art is durable and inexpensive. Its all about sustainability within design, about making something last a long time, she said.
After studying in her native city, Edinburgh, Alison travelled around and stayed in Australia, Canada and America for some time. She now lives in Oxton on the Wirral. She says: I think Ill be staying here a while now. Theres a good arty scene locally. The visitor centre at Birkenhead Park is a really good venue. The park itself is beautiful and you get people wandering in who would never normally go to my exhibitions.
Alison is now moving away from using wire and wants to experiment with plastic instead. Making jewellery and accessories with wire is fun, but it is time-consuming. A hat can take as long as three days to make. Plastic jewellery is a cheaper alternative.
Either way,Alisons designs are unique yet tasteful and wearable. Be sure to take a look at the pieces yourself, Alisons jewellery is going to be featured this month on the Wirral open studio tour, which takes place at galleries in Oxton, Hoylake and West Kirby.
We asked Alison for tips for budding artists:First of all, have a go. You dont know if art is for you unless you give it a try. You dont need an art degree, you just need to practice and note the feedback you receive. Secondly, networking is essential. Talk to other artists and youll get an idea of what the scene is like. They can also give you advice.
The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Cheshire Life
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