Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside

We met local artist and photographer Jodie Spriggs whilst we were out exploring last months Skipton Open Studios.  Her glass installation ‘Ribbons de la Mer’ took up residence at The Elms for the duration of the west weekend, where its beauty and skill could be truly appreciated.  We wanted to find out more about the work that she does and what inspired her to create this fantastic piece of work. 

Tell us about where and when getting creative all started for you.

I have always been creative from a school age. Art was my favourite chosen subject for GCSE which led me to study Art & Design at Highlands College where I took an interest in glass and then further pursued this as a Glass making Degree at Wolverhampton University.

How would you describe your work and what you do.

The eight piece glass installation, which you can see in the photos, ‘Ribbons de la Mer’, is inspired by Jersey’s coastline. During a beach combing session for flotsam and jetsam, I took macro photographs of seaweed and pods. Back in the studio I experimented with metals and oxides within glass. I challenged myself to work on a large scale piece, incorporating different techniques and processes, much like building up a collage.

I enjoy layering and seeing depth within art works so this is present in my jewellery collection too, ‘Flotsam Footsteps’ which when viewed closely can look like mini worlds sitting upon your finger.

Depth is also a theme within some of my photography, whereby I am often drawn to quirky doorways and archways. Most of my photography series are taken whilst travelling, I like to capture a moment of daily life on the streets or a portrait shot of someone, where their face can tell a story.

What does an average day look like for you?

I am a full time nanny for a 19 month old boy. We are always exploring the island together. I am now incorporating my love of photography into my daily life. I have set myself a 30 day photo challenge. It is making me more mindful and aware of my familiar surroundings and seeing the beauty within them. I will often be snapping away on my walks and outings with the toddler.

Can you talk us through the process you went through to produce your glass installation.

The making process of ‘Ribbons de la Mer’ is a hot sand-casting technique. For each individual piece, eventually measuring just under a metre in length, I begin by pressing a plaster mould into a sand tray, I then remove it to create a shape to fill halfway with molten clear glass, gathered from a 1500 degrees C furnace. I have pre-formed a colourful glass sphere and lengths of glass cane, which are sitting in a kiln at the same temperature. These are set into the first layer of cast glass, and covered with another clear layer of the liquid glass to encase the forms.

Once the glass has cooled enough to be able to manipulate, myself and a partner attach an iron rod onto each end of the form and lift the glass out of the tray, brushing away most of the sand. We then pull the glass, twisting slightly into a more lengthened and organic form. The piece is then knocked off into a kiln to cool slowly for 24 hours.

Once cooled, I ‘cold-work’ the glass into smoother, elegant pieces by sanding them on different machines. Finally sandblasting selected areas to create a contrast against the clear gloss finish.

The final forms are suspended at one end, so that they are free to move, reflecting the motion of kelp-like seaweed in the seas current.

Do you have a favourite piece of work that you’ve kept, one that you loved so much you just couldn’t sell.

Yes, one of my ‘Rock Pool’ rings, which my boyfriends mum owns. I try not to be overly precious with my work or I would never let anything go! I love it because it represents a fond time experimenting with materials and also a lot of hard work and time spent hand polishing.

Do you have any particular artists that have inspired you throughout your career?

I admire the large scale glass waved sculptures of the glass artist Danny Lane and the photographer Henri Cartier Bresson, for his courage and rules in aesthetics with a realistic approach. He likened photography to an “instant drawing”, much like I prefer to leave my photographs unedited so what you see in my shots are the real colours.

What was your pathway to getting to this point in your career?

At Highlands College I was lucky to be taught by well known Jersey artists and especially encouraged by my tutor Glyn Burton, to work with glass and metal, he further suggested studying at Wolverhampton University for their range of facilities which would allow me to try out glass blowing and experiment deeper into the field of glass.

On returning from University, I took a silver class with Lisa Le Brocq and it is something I may continue with in the future, as it is much more feasible and accessible for me to pursue in Jersey.

Photography wise, my travels to Asia are what provided me with the great colourful photo opportunities and have shaped my style.

If you could own a single piece of work produced by one of the grandmasters, what would it be?

An original by Alphonse Mucha – ‘The Arts, Dance’ 1898, I love his intricate Art Nouveau style.

What work adorns your walls at home?

My sister once commented our bedroom is like an artists studio and I suppose it is half of the time! So I think what’s on the walls is important to be inspiring and reflect your interests or remind you of the place or person you may have bought it from, rather than just going for some generic print!

“Whether you enjoy using social media or not, it’s the most current form of communication for advertising and promoting yourself, so post regularly, even if it’s something personal and unrelated to your work, as it still means that your name is present in the mind of your audience. Find an upcoming event or exhibition space and work towards this as a personal deadline for creating a body of work to showcase.”

On our walls at home we have originals from local artists Lorna Blackmore and Glen Fox, for the mark making, colours and details. Also a brightly coloured illustrated poster we picked up at Glastonbury festival, some prints my boyfriend bought in Barcelona and one of his own pieces, an illustration drawn onto a skateboard deck.

If you had the keys to any museum, so you could come and go as you please, where would it be, we’ll throw in a private jet too?

The Science Museum in London, for the interactive qualities. I’m not overly keen on visiting art Museums, I recently went to the Guggenheim in New York and I was more fascinated with taking pictures of the shape of the building itself rather than what was exhibited!

Do you have any great career advice for people with an interest in pursuing a career as an artist?

Become part of the thriving art scene on our island. Immerse yourself in the regular events, attend exhibition private views, then have the confidence to mingle with fellow like-minded people for great networking opportunities. Whether you enjoy using social media or not, it’s the most current form of communication for advertising and promoting yourself, so post regularly, even if it’s something personal and unrelated to your work, as it still means that your name is present in the mind of your audience. Find an upcoming event or exhibition space and work towards this as a personal deadline for creating a body of work to showcase.

We know you exhibited last month as part of the Skipton Open Studios, but what’s coming up in the future, anything we should be keeping an eye out for?

My next aim is to have my glass installation installed permanently. I ideally imagine it to be suspended by a window, down a staircase, or in a grand entrance way for lots of people to see. In other areas of my creative interests, I would like to start experimenting with combining my photography with collaging, so watch this space!

Her website is jodiespriggs.com she is on Instagram and has an artists profile on Facebook, search her full name, Jodie Spriggs.