Over the last 22 years I have crammed the making of my own work into weekends and evenings as my job as Head of the Jewellery and Silversmithing Department at Edinburgh College of Art took up a huge amount of time.
When I did get access to the lovely room that is my studio I very rapidly had to earmark tables, chairs, showcases, put some things on the wall and order equipment and materials for the classes. Lots of people came through the studio to sort out the inevitable new building snags, plumbing, locks, blinds, hooks, telephones and edges of the concrete floor.
I had a meeting with the Health and Safety Officer to finally determine the question I have been asking for over a year, I am a metal worker, can I use a flame? he agreed that I can only use a tiny flame and only when members of the public are not in the room. Knowing this determines the way I will be working and in some ways it is liberating.
My aim was very quickly to make the space workable, interesting and safe for visitors. I sent down from Edinburgh a well-worn jewellers bench that was given to me by my tutor of the 1960s at Glasgow School of Art, Leslie Auld. Leslie made the bench and gave it to me with all his tools when he stopped making his work in the 1990s. I think he would have liked to know it was being used at the V&A. He was a most inspirational teacher and it is in part due to him that I am here at the V&A.