Sentinels and Spectres: journeys and jewellery with Andy Lowrie

Sentinels and Spectres: journeys and jewellery with Andy Lowrie

Informed by historic jewellery and craft objects, the exquisite brooches by Andy Lowrie on display in our Small Object Space have many stories to tell. Sentinels and Spectres reflects upon the personal, political and spiritual connections Andy has with his surroundings. Andy started creating pieces for Sentinels and Spectres in Australia, and continued the collecting during an internship with renowned jeweller Tanel Veenre in Tallin, Estonia.

To celebrate his wonderful Sentinels and Spectres exhibition we asked Andy to reflect on his internship in Tallinn, Estonia, and how his experiences inspired his collection.

You can see Andy’s work on display in our Small Object Space until 3 September.



I first learned of Tanel Veenre and his jewellery work during my studies at the Queensland College of Art. In 2014 he posted a studio internship position on his Instagram account that I applied for. I was accepted as a studio intern for an 8-week period, which I undertook in March/April 2016. We took this photo together on the last day of my internship outside his studio in the streets of Old Town, Tallinn, Estonia.




A view of Tallinn Town Hall Square, also part of old town. Tallinn Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site.



When I first arrived in Tallinn it was early spring and still snowing. The snow only lasted the first two weeks of my time there but it turned the parks surrounding Old Town into very magical places.



Old Town became even more beautiful when the snow melted away and was a perfect location for immersing myself in the jewellery making work Tanel had for me.



For two months I boarded with an Estonian lady, Katrin, and her son in an apartment close to Old Town. Katrin introduced me to Estonian foods and lifestyle and was a great friend during my time there. Learning about Estonia was a really valuable part of my experience and has helped me to understand art jewellery from the region on a deeper level.



Of the two studios Tanel works in, this is an image of the one I spent the most time in. I would go to the studio Monday to Friday to solder, polish, carve, assemble and finish pieces for Tanel’s TVJ jewellery range and unique art jewellery pieces. Sometimes I would work in the studio with Tanel and other times I would work by myself at assigned tasks.



This was the most fun range of TVJ jewellery I worked on while in the studio. These pieces were released in Estonia while I interned so I was able to follow a new range of work from production to promotion to store delivery. The ranges are called Pantone Flies and Mini Berries, which we made in a full spectrum of colours. A highlight of the internship was taking the newly made Pantone Flies to Tallinn Fashion Week to send down the runway.



Another aspect of working on the Pantone Flies and Mini Berries ranges was taking them to Tallinn Design Market during Tallinn Music Week. My Estonian was awful but thankfully the shoppers could laugh it off and we had a successful weekend showcasing the new pieces. We shared the Kultuurikatel venue with lots of other great local and international makers.



Getting back to the studio work, helping Tanel carve small wooden objects was also a big part of my internship. We carved a variety of materials ranging in scale from hand held to body fitting. Carving small books from ebony was my first carving task. It was no easy feat!



Other pieces were carved from softer wood and were assisted by power tools. Carving wood was a really new experience for me and inspired me to play with wood in my own ways. Using juniper wood in the form of souvenirs from the local tourist stores, I created components that would become the starting points for many pieces in Sentinels & Spectres.



With exhibition deadlines approaching, Tanel had to spend time curating selections of his own work. This was a fascinating process for me to observe and really made me think about the way I make and exhibit my own work.



In the days before an exhibition installation the studio became a frenzy of activity that led to some really unique display solutions. Working with Tanel has definitely taught me to consider all details and prepare for the unexpected.



While in Tallinn I spent a weekend travelling to Stockholm to visit several contemporary jewellery exhibitions that were part of Stockholm Art Jewellery 2016. This is an image of the feature exhibition, Open Space, Mind Maps. Positions in Contemporary Jewellery, a great survey of current international art jewellery.



In Tallinn I also reached out to Ketli Tiitsar and Kristi Paap, whose work I have recently been following. Ketli invited me to her studio and the two artists generously showed me some of their work and talked about their experiences as practitioners. Such an intimate look at these artists work was invaluable.



Towards the end of my time in Estonia I traveled with a bus of jewellery and blacksmithing students to Narva. The Estonian Academy of Arts jewellery and blacksmithing departments were exhibiting there as part of the Narva Artist Residency. In a residence building of a now unused textiles factory compound four exhibitions were staged to showcase the work of Academy students and alumni. The standard of work and display was a great parting impression of Estonia.

Feature image: Andy Lowrie, Mountain spectre, 2016. Juniper wood, paint, copper, sterling silver and stainless steel pin. Photo by Michelle Bowden.