V&A Dundee

Festive Design Market: NMARRA

On the run up to our Festive Design Market, we talk to some of the exhibitors about their work, their inspirations and process. Hear from Jen Stewart, creator of NMARRA, about the role of nature and sustainability in her beautiful, bold jewellery pieces.

When I'm out and about I like to take photos of small details and graphic juxtapositions. I also sketch here and there to try out different shapes. When it's time to sit down and work out the next batch of new designs I pull them all together and develop the basic ideas into wearable pieces, working out the visual and physical balance of each. I try to design earrings that create playful new compositions, framing the wearer's face and work on different options and sizes within the range to suit different occasions and moods.

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I hope to make pieces that resonate, that are cherished, worn often and bring joy. My hope is that a compelling design can contribute to a longer lifespan and more conscious purchasing. I work with brass, a material that is largely continually reclaimed and recycled. I work in small batches from Scottish suppliers, so there's no wastage from over-producing on a mass scale. Everything is hand finished in my studio in Glasgow, keeping everything as close to home as possible. My jewellery is supplied and posted in plastic-free packaging, from eco-friendly sources. I'm really interested in the different production methods that can be explored at batch scale. It's important to support your local economy over large-scale homogenised global retailers and producers, as this is a way to slow the cycle of overproduction and waste.

Lela
Rowa
Wala
Hola
  • Lela

  • Rowa

  • Wala

  • Hola

I'm always attracted to strong lines and bold graphic forms and hope each piece brings joy to the wearer as well as lots of compliments! There's a few style families within the overall range and I add new designs to these as ideas develop and progress. The more linear graphic pieces that play with geometric compositions are often inspired by architecture, typography and balance. The collections with more solid forms are generally inspired by shapes found in the natural world, like seeds and plant forms. The most recent designs added to the range were inspired by shapes left behind by the sea and debris found on the shoreline.

Metal earrings against a colourful backdrop.
Metal hair clips against  a navy backdrop.
Gold metal earrings on display.

I'm excited to be back out and about at markets this winter. A market is the best way to see things in real life and get an idea of the scale of the pieces. And it's always so nice to meet the people who wear or gift your designs face to face!

I'm looking forward to 2022! Hopefully next year there will be a whole new range emerging, including some colourful pieces (!) and potentially translating the bold NMARRA signature style to other products outwith jewellery. I always have a lot of half finished ideas on the go, so I'm looking forward to getting a wee break in January then planning a big, creatively fertile spring!

I'm often asked about the name NMARRA. It was inspired by the Gaelic "na mara" meaning "of the sea", as much of my creative energy comes from time spent out by the Scottish coast.

Jen will be at our Festive Design Market on Saturday, make sure you pop by and say hello.

Our Festive Design Market is in collaboration with Tea Green Events.