Shirley Warnock-Lowe: Ethical making matters
Jewellery & Metal Design graduate, Shirley Warnock-Lowe applies ethical making practices to her work, and is now an ambassador for Ethical Making with the Incorporation of Goldsmiths. We find out how she hopes to inspire others to be more mindful of the materials they use…
“Outside of jewellery making, I’m really mindful and conscious of the materials I use at home. I started to realise that at art school, that's not necessarily the case. You’re always creating samples but you don’t always think about where they come from or where they end up. A lot of materials end up as landfill and that made me start to think: what can I do about changing this?
“My Degree Show work showed how you can create an ethical business”
“I recently won the Craft Scotland Award, which was because my Degree Show work was a business plan of how you can create an ethical business from start to finish; from sourcing ethical materials to creating business cards made of recycled t-shirts and recycled packaging. I actually used popcorn for packaging, which was a talking point! From that I got a few emails from other jewellers who’d just graduated who said that they wanted to know more about it.
“As an Ambassador for Ethical Making with the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, I liaise with colleges. We're running talks all over Scotland, from Edinburgh to Glasgow to Fife. I’m also currently doing the Residency Programme at Duncan of Jordanstone, to try and introduce ethical making procedures and a pledge to start introducing recycled metals. I applied based on my ethical making as I felt I could be involved in making changes. I’m working closely with academics and technical staff and I’ll be presenting to the undergraduate students about how they can use alternative materials in their work.
“It's really exciting to be working on the ground level”
“Because I tried out so many different ethical making techniques in my undergraduate course it’s given me a better position to be able to share information; if someone’s process is using resin I can give them information on eco resins or bio resins or get them thinking about materials that aren’t quite as harmful to the environment. They’re maybe not brilliant, but they’re an improvement on current practices. It’s really exciting to be working on that on a ground level. That’s what I want to do – educate people and get them thinking about ethical making, whether that’s in this setting or the wider world.
“Ethical making shouldn’t be detrimental to the design process”
“Having spoken to the DJCAD student president, Lewis Kennedy, I’m hoping to set up ethical making representatives in each department, in the same way we’ve got student representatives for each department. They will feed back on what changes could be made to try and level up the whole school’s consciousness. It will involve working with our technicians and seeing what’s practical for everyone. Ethical making shouldn’t be a detriment to the design process, so it’s not going to be that we can’t use paper anymore! It’s about changing a few things at a time and taking a steps in the right direction.
“Eventually, I would like to have an ethical making hub, so that people in all disciplines can work within a friendly community to refine their skills in ethical making. As soon as you leave art school you’re in a workshop on your own, which can be hard, so I’d like this to be cross-discipline. Actually, like the Residency Programme, but out in the real world!”
You read more about Duncan of Jordanstone's Residency Programme here
“I recently won the Craft Scotland Award, and that was due to my Degree Show work being a business plan of how you can create an ethical business; from sourcing ethical materials to creating business cards made of recycled t-shirts and recycled packaging."Shirley Warnock-Lowe