Maker of the Month - Regina Middleton

Regina Middleton's simple and reverent jewellery is influenced by her explorations along the coastline near her home in Torquay, Victoria. She uses objects which she finds washed up on the beaches to cast and create intricate pieces in silver and porcelain. We think her latest collection 'Collect, Imprint, Adorn' is a stunning reflection of how jewellery can communicate an essence of history, place and the evolution of time.

We interviewed Regina about her practice and work...

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your practice?

I have been making jewellery for nearly ten years, and although my practice has very much evolved in that time I have always been enamoured with found materials and have felt a natural pull towards creating pieces of adornment. I live in Torquay with my husband and our very loved dog Ary. The ocean shoreline is where I find most of my inspiration, may it be in colour, shape or form.

When and how did you first get started as a Jeweller?

The first summer after high school finished my best friend and I spent every day at the beach, eating salad, sun baking and beach-combing in between swimming in the beautiful Indian Ocean. A few friendship pieces were made with what we collected, and I was hooked. Shells with holes were my favourite as were curiously weathered forms! From there I went on to complete a bachelor of design majoring in jewellery at Curtin University in WA, and an honours in fine art at Monash University.

What has the journey been like since those early days?

Moving to Melbourne nearly ten years ago saw a massive shift in my practice. With the ocean being so far from my immediate surroundings I found inspiration along the street, in parks and the dumpster at Uni. For some time I was exploring up cycling electrical and telecommunication wires. The colours were insanely inspiring.

Looking for beauty in the abandoned has always run through my practice. As is the connection between time and place and objects that have been able to mark that experience, or at least spark a memory of that time.

The obscured history of an object has always held my intrigue. I think that is why weathered forms with text always excite me the most. Imbued within them is an allusion to the their history.

Can you give us some insight into your creative process and where  you draw inspiration from?

My creative process tends to begin with a hunt, a gathering, a collection of sorts. From there I love sorting my finds. Familiarising myself with their differences and putting them together like a puzzle. I find this is great way to explore their forms further and establish which stand out and speak to me the most.

Shape, form and detail are driving factors, influencing the starting point. Interestingly, there are certain shapes that I find over and over again; the way the plastics breakdown and weather produce similar results.

I can’t help but also see the comparison between the way in which my holdfasts (the anchor that many seaweed species use to fasten themselves onto the oceans floor) could be branches, twigs, veins, antlers, etc. Nature is about repetition and this has always spoken to me.

The repetitive nature of making jewellery is also where I find my zen. 

Any advice or words of wisdom for other makers out there?

Keep at it, immerse yourself in your craft and the people within it and don't be afraid. Trust your instincts. Explore, play and breathe. 

We are really excited about your upcoming workshops at Guild, can you tell us a bit about these?

My upcoming workshops at Guild will be exploring our connection to materials and found objects. We will be casting an object/objects/materials to create a precious ring or pendant in silver. Participants are more than welcome to bring their own objects or I will have some for them to sort through and find what they connect with the most to choose to cast. The objects I bring will be clearly recorded and grouped into where they were collected from and when.

I really hope I can share the idea of mementos; markers of time and place as precious things to be held onto. We will also be able to explore leaving impressions from these objects in wax and in turn creating a ring or pendant to be cherished or gifted with the intention for another to cherish.

Any other projects or news you want to share?

I am working towards a solo exhibition later this year with that which the oceans rejects, that which I find along the high tide lines. It will be about time, place, sentiment and materiality. The works will be both wearable and not so wearable.

My precious plastics will also be taking shape into explorations outside of adornment for the body. I am hoping to create some new artworks and prints from my drawings and placements of found objects.

Photography Credits: From Top - Images 1,2,3,5,7 Timothy Marriage | Image 6 Kristoffer Paulsen | Image 4,8,9 Regina Middleton.

Find Regina on Instagram and in the Guild shop.

Regina will be running two workshops at Guild on Saturday 4 March, 2017 - 'Make a Silver Ring' and 'Make a Silver Pendant'. We are offering a 10% discount if you book two or more spots in her workshops before Valentines Day (14 February).