A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part I

02 Jul 2020

We are celebrating Joanne Thompson's 25 years as a practising jeweller! The Gallery has represented the work of Joanne from the beginning of her career and we are delighted to be hosting her anniversary exhibition. Explore Joanne Thompson | 25 and discover the full collection online.

We got chatting to Joanne and asked her to share some insights into her work, inspirations, practice and life...

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part I
Joanne Thompson in her studio

1. What is your favourite thing about being a jewellery maker?

The solitude! The making process, I really enjoy the labour of it, I never find it boring, even after 25 years it still brings me the most joy. Building the forms of the jewellery, row by row... it’s very satisfying watching the shapes emerge. The structural patterns can be quite complicated so you have to concentrate, and working with a flame and a hammer requires focus so the process can become like a meditation.

2. What challenges do you face being a jeweller, big or small?

All the uncertainties of self employment keeps me on my toes, you have to adapt and remain innovative. Never really knowing what the next year will bring, and fluctuations in income, especially just now during the pandemic.

3. What made you decide to study Jewellery & Silversmithing back in 1989?

When I arrived at ECA I fully intended to be a painter. In my first year I tried a little of each discipline, and after a short time in the jewellery department something clicked. The department felt different to the rest of the school, there was an energy (Dorothy Hogg) which was very positive and exciting and the course was very well organised. I immediately felt right at home.

My favourite designs are the pieces which connect with the body most successfully, where a necklace sits on the neck and holds its sculptural shape perfectly, or a bracelet rolls and drapes beautifully on the wrist.

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part I
Jarvie Necklace (oxidised silver), 2020
A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part I
Jarvie Necklace (oxidised silver, modelled), 2020

4. Has the jewellery world changed since you first started?

The main change has been through social media, prior to this I could feel disconnected from my peers when working from my studio at home. I love that we are all in touch supporting each other through platforms like Instagram and we can all stay updated with all the amazing new work being created.

5. What other creative hobbies do you have?

I sew and knit, I love making my own clothes and I recently re-upholstered our sofa!

6. Do you have any standout moments / achievements in your 25 year career?

Last year the Hanna Necklace was bought by The Goldsmiths Company for their Permanent Collection.

7. Do you have a favourite design or piece to make?

My favourite designs are the pieces which connect with the body most successfully, where a necklace sits on the neck and holds its sculptural shape perfectly, or a bracelet rolls and drapes beautifully on the wrist.

A Conversation with Joanne Thompson | Part I
Holme Long Chain Earrings (silver), 2020

Building the forms of the jewellery, row by row... it’s very satisfying watching the shapes emerge.

8. What piece would you wear for a special event and why?

A statement necklace on a simple outfit is always fun and makes for an easy conversation starter.

9. If you are feeling unmotivated, what do you do/where do you go to get inspired?

I look to historical chain maille patterns for inspiration. There are thousands of different patterns which can be found online, even better is to see them in museums like the Met Museum NY in the Arms and Armor rooms.

10. What is one thing we would be surprised to learn about you?

I have a yoga sling suspended from the ceiling in my studio which I hang upside down from like a bat! It’s great for stretching out the back and shoulders after a day at work.


We hope you enjoyed part I of our Q&A with Joanne Thompson. Her exhibition 25 is on from 01 - 25 July 2020. Explore some of the work in the film below!


Continue to read part two here

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