Hand crafted Jewellery made from recycled brass, silver & gold.
Hidden away in the cosiest corner of Centrespace Studios, I met Polly Collins. Amongst all her pieces, tools & artwork, we spoke about her discovery of Jewellery and her practice today, from becoming a maker to exploring the materiality of her practice today.
I always like to start a conversation reflecting on how the person I am interviewing became a maker and usually their upbringing has a lot to say for it:
"My childhood was spent in a very rural corner of Devon, where art and nature filled the everyday. My mum is a self-taught textile artist and my dad is a rather eccentric electrician and so my earliest memories are of playing with small silver bits of solder or sitting underneath a whirring sewing machine."
The chemistry between metal work and textiles seems to be a solid equation in the making of a Jeweller. Having initially explored Product Design, Polly quickly changed course, and delved into her Jewellery Degree at Edinburgh University.
"I spent the next three years becoming fascinated with the alchemy of drawing ideas into precious metals, and how objects made to interact with the body can hold such strong personal meaning."
Personally, I found the time after university a difficult transition from structured education from practically the time I was born, to graduating and having no frame work to work towards. Polly struggled during this time too.
"It took me a long time to find the confidence to create objects that truly resonated with me. There is a sense that you become quite vulnerable when work that is personal to you goes out into the world and becomes open to interpretation.
After taking a little time away from jewellery after graduating, I began to feel able to quietly make the pieces that had been cooking in the back of my mind, just for myself."
Through removing the pressure of creating for others, Polly returned to a practice that felt known to her.
"I have been drawing faces for as long as I can remember and so it really did feel quite
instinctive and natural to be making them; to be led by feeling and not worrying about any
As a maker myself, I truly feel a creative comes into their own when they decide to create for the sake of creating, because they can't not create. This, for me, seems to be the greatest introduction to one's practice. Now, many years on, Polly can reflect that...
"I ultimately want to make objects that feel human, connect people and that can be treasured for a lifetime. Or repurposed, as metal so wonderfully can, by melting it down"
Whilst talking to makers, I always find it important to let them reflect on the balance and support surrounding their practice. How can you be productive whilst not burning out? Polly's answer is simple: "Time away from making is just as important as the time spent making. You have to breathe in to breathe out." She reflects on how taking time out, enjoying the summer, is just as important as spending time in the studio. Also exploring her work in a different setting when she took part in a creative residency on an island in Sweden was "truly nourishing & magical", providing perspective that sometimes can't be experienced in the day-to-day.
Alongside time away, time in her Centrespace Studio is just as important due to the peer-to-peer support of all the other makers.
"Centrespace has offered a space for me to grow. It is a co-operative studios and so this means that whilst our rent is cheap, we all manage the space ourselves. Through this, I have really got to know the incredible makers and artists within the building and they have helped in the development of my work in so many different ways.
After years of squeezing my jewellery around part time jobs, I am really enjoying the rhythm of treating my studio as a place where I show up every day and always try to allow a little space to play."
Taking a step away from social media has given Polly a different relationship with her customers & fellow makers. However, she doesn't take for granted the benefits it had to establishing her business
"I know that I would not be where I am today without social media. I was really lucky to have started my business before the algorithm took over, and to have met a really vast and incredible network of makers there."
The issue is that an independent maker can become very dependent on a rather volatile platform. As a solution, Polly is aiming to redirect her time towards "Newsletters and real life events. It feels slow, but also really satisfying and definitely much more human."
I am sure this conscious move towards human interaction will benefit Polly's practice and allow her to focus on her next development...
"I am very keen to keep learning, building community and hopefully finding space to run workshops that bring people together and introduce them to working directly with metal."
I always like to cap these off with an opportunity for our creators to share some of their favourite makers:
One-to-watch: The Woolgatherers Workshop
Thank you so much Polly for participating! I can't wait to get back in the swing of sharing more Creative Diaries very soon.