“…I clinched it..!”

“…I clinched it..!”
by Zoe Robertson


This work pays homage to ‘The Clinches’ in my female linage: my Mum, my Nan and my Auntie.

As an artist and maker of jewellery, I’m curious about how I’ve inherited my vocabulary of making skills. My artistic practice centers on experimenting with techniques and processes in relation to making body related objects and methods such as problem-solving, understanding of material qualities and construction techniques are all utilized to create objects. Concepts and ideas are explored by this hands-on approach to design via making, which although highly skilled, at times is somewhat intuitive, by gut instinct and by trial and error.

Interviewing my mum, Susan Mary Iris Robertson, maiden name Clinch as part of this project I discovered how essential craft and particularly sewing is intertwined into how she lives her life. This included voluntary and unpaid work comprising of making clothes, costumes for school plays and now later in life patchwork for home furnishings. Making out of necessity featured strongly, in relation to the family’s modest income and the story of the ‘denim jacket’ resurrected memories for us both, as she described how she felt duty bound to provide fashionable clothing for her two teenage daughters and the only way to ‘keep up with the Jones’ was to produce the garment herself, of which I remember wearing. As an adult I also have fond recollections of sharing an afternoon sewing my own wedding bunting around the dining room table, with my Nan and Auntie and it’s a combination of these stories which have provided the catalyst for the creation of this work.

The inherited tacit and experiential knowledge that feeds my practice has been handed down to me during these ephemeral moments via observation and dialogue. Therefore this hybrid piece brings together these strands of conversation, whereby I tackle the process of following a pattern to produce a garment enabling me to reflect on the frustrations, struggles and sense of achievement that rub up against each other during construction. Alongside the repetition of production and process symbolised by the triangular repeatable elements, well known to bunting connoisseurs. This culminates in the feeling that ‘I clinched it’ revealing that making is a continuous thread which is woven into our family linage. The pure joy of making is strongly reflected within my practice and I do love making stuff!

Award winning jewellery artist Zoe Robertson’s studio practice explores themes relating to jewellery within performance. She creates theatrically sized jewellery, experiments on the edges of the discipline and enjoys working collaboratively. The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of her works moves beyond jewellery and into the fields of performance, sound, and dance. As seen in her latest solo exhibition flockOmania this cross-disciplinary approach enables her to create experiential and immersive environments which invite audience interaction and participation. She is co-founder of The Dual Works an artist studio based in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham and her work is exhibited within an international arena.