Each month we highlight one of our regular makers, to give you an insight into their work, and to direct you to more information about them.
Beverly Bartlett Handmade Jewellery – Science in Silver
Born in Hull, Bev has slowly headed south and away from her Yorkshire roots. She moved with her family to Leamington Spa, before attending Bath University, and eventually set up her workshop in Berkshire after a short spell in London. Maintaining a connection to Yorkshire, her hallmark is registered at the Sheffield Assay Office.
As a child, Bev was always making things; whittling wood, making clothes and, one memorable summer, trying to make enough ‘bricks’ out of clay dug from the garden to build her own house! However, she ultimately chose an academic path, graduating with a degree in Applied Biology, and moving into research before working at the Ministry of Agriculture.
It was at the conclusion of her academic research that some free time allowed Bev to return to her latent interest in the arts, and she started a silversmithing course at South Hill Park Arts Centre. Here she discovered a way of combining her scientific background with creative expression. Many jewellers find that they specialise in a narrow range of techniques, and Bev loves to solder and hand form metals using an understanding of how they behave to bring her designs to life. Her jewellery features textured surfaces, emphasised by depletion gilding and combined with polished elements. Silver has a matt ivory colour before polishing, and depletion gilding raises a layer of pure silver to the surface of the textured portion of her work. Gentle polishing creates the contrast with the smooth polished areas.
Science has a fundamental influence on Bev’s work and biology is a constant source of inspiration to her - the elegant designs draw on the appearance of natural forms as they appear under a microscope, while Bev’s knowledge of physics and chemistry inform her innovative approaches to working with precious metals. She has also explored mathematical ratios and models in her designs.
Her designs often begin with a complex scientific image, which is refined and simplified to create visually pleasing shapes. Her Cambium range notably reflects the images of plant tissue when viewed down a microscope and PS3-5 the ribbon-like images produced by scientists to represent protein molecules.
Bev finally took the difficult decision to leave her work at the Ministry and moved to a part time role working at Reading College as a lecturer and teacher in jewellery. This was followed by a two year Artist in Residence post at South Hill Park Arts Centre, where her interest in working with silver first started. It was here that she concentrated on developing her jewellery ranges and started to become involved in craft fairs and selling in galleries. She now teaches small group sessions from her workshop and also accepts bespoke commissions in silver and gold alongside her regular work.
In the last few years, Bev has completed the circle, and, largely through coincidence, returned to Hull and Bath. She revisited Hull during the City of Culture year in 2017 and designed a range of limited edition jewellery themed on the River Humber. The final circle was completed last year when a selection of her work was chosen for an exhibition entitled Visions of Science at the Andrew Brownsword Gallery at the University of Bath.