Linnie McClarty came to jewellery via a fine art background. It shows. The notion of jewellery being ‘sculptural’ really is the case with her work, not some random comparative adjective used too liberally. On first encountering many of her beautiful pieces it’s almost as if the human body is relevant. This hardly means that her work isn’t wearable or comfortable, but simply that the forms she favours and the finishes that she gives her materials result in something far more than the merely decorative or an adornment as an afterthought. Her work really does engage with the kinds of visual languages that we are more used to seeing in sculpture and, as such, has the same kind of impact as a sculpture in being able to conduct its own communication of ideas.
Sometimes these ideas are very abstract, deploying the same kinds of tensions between form and materials that we are more used to encountering in a gallery than on the human body. But at other times there seems to be a tenuous connection with the natural world in the same way that Surrealism draws on the familiar to create a new way of seeing daily reality. For example, her ‘Small Pleasures’ creation sits somewhere between a series of brooches and a necklace, a colony of beautifully crafted metal tones that seem to have colonised the wearer -reminiscent of barnacles on the underside of a boat- rather than being worn by her.
Like an increasing number of bespoke contemporary jewellers, Linnie is committed to only using ‘fairmined’ materials meaning that her gold and precious stones are certified to come from mines that operate under fairtrade principles and do not use child labour. Similarly, she is more than happy to undertake commissions working entirely in recycled gold and precious metals, another means of keeping exploitation out of the studio.
A bit of a cult for the discerning jewellery aficionado for some time, London-based Linnie’s designs are guaranteed to be a bit of a conversation piece in any social setting. That probably accounts for why stars like Debbie Harry have been photographed wearing her very special pieces and the increasing interest on the part of stylists to give her designs magazine editorial.