This book encapsulates 10 years of my work with each project laid out in the manner in which it was originally conceived and then developed. The book title is a noun already loaded with ambiguity. With a standard definition of “foolish or silly behaviour”, tomfoolery is also a term in Cockney rhyming slang, meaning “jewellery”. For the purposes of my retrospective I wanted to create a playful tension between the two existing definitions and for me tomfoolery is redefined here as a less precious approach, implying a light touch. I see it as serious play: in other words Tomfoolery is at the heart of my objects and jewellery.
The projects are mostly without commentary but include instead some of my own previously unseen and unedited letters, e-mails, administrative communications and jottings. The intention is to provide a less structured insight into my process and to summarise my ideas at the time of writing. The act of rediscovering and rereading these texts has shaped the final outcome with a layout that visually maps my original thought patterns with as little text as possible. I have also included other people’s descriptions and interpretative writing that offer an alternative voice.
Both public and personal works are presented and provide an overview of my concerns and preoccupations as a contemporary maker. Projects such as Papaver Argentum and Room Temperature highlight particular observations and points of interest within the sphere of material practice while Process Works and Thinking Tools present unedited thoughts on my creative methods and the dilemmas of making. Addressing the notion that the sharing of knowledge through teaching might be a method of investigation and experimentation within jewellery making, the subject is freely explored far away from formal academia in workshops such as The Social Life of Jewellery. Moving from the classroom to the community group, the importance of collaborative working in exploring the wider issues of craft commissioning, craft collections and social engagement is presented through the project Pas de Deux. As in most of my work the narrative structure/auto-narrative is pervasive and the personal and emotional investment in projects such as Pinpoint and Handwriting contrasts sharply with high profile, public commissions such as designing the medals for the London 2012 Paralympic Games. However, these seemingly oppositional landscapes direct me towards exploring new themes for jewellery involving a constant re-evaluation of the role of self-identity and the mechanisms by which authenticity is sought by both groups and individuals.
I see objects and jewellery not only as things to possess and use but also as subjects to explore and research and a medium through which ideas and concepts can be presented. By exposing my methods in reaching the outcomes featured here I hope to expand the scope of jewellery as a subject of study, an approach to making and as a philosophical lens through which we can view the world we live in.