Ruby Mellish is a London-based jewelry designer whose work is bound to make your skin crawl.
While acquiring her Bachelor’s in Jewelry from Central Saint Martin’s, Mellish’s portfolio is comprised of mixed medium work, from sketches to surrealist graphics to physical design.
META MAG sat down with Ruby Mellish to learn more about the inspiration behind her Pilot Collection, A self~portraiture study of self~perspective. Check out her work at the Central Saint Martins’ BA Jewelry Design show, launching on June 30th at graduateshowcase.arts.ac.uk/c/central-saint-martins-ba-hons-jewellery-design.
See the full interview in our third issue, RESILIENCE.
Photography by Jude Lee-Allen
1. What does resilience mean to you? How does resilience play into your brand and what you create?
In light of the pandemic, [resilience has] really been a major theme for a lot of artists that I know. In the beginning, my university completely shut shop for three months, and I had this whole project planned–I was doing a lot of CAD design work. I had these scans of my face that I was going to get 3D printed and cast in gold and silver with stones set in the eyes. It was all going to be great.
But then, I couldn’t go back to [school] so I had to start from scratch. I built up resilience in that way in terms of going back to basics and thinking, “How am I going to overcome this?”
I moved back home to my parents’ house. It was like going back to my childhood and reverting to that really old way of thinking about art, so I kind of had to adapt to that. I picked up acetate again, which is now the main material I’m using, and I was just trying to figure out how to manipulate things in a more professional way.
So with this whole situation, that’s how resilience played a major part for me in adapting to a huge era of change and shouldering my pride and going back to basics.
2. What will you always be a champion of?
I’ll always be a champion of creating disturbing art that makes people really uncomfortable. Before jewelry, I used to do a lot of live drawing and a lot of my work was very sexual, and that kind of disturbed people. And now, I’m working with a lot of body distortion where I’m getting quite a few amusing comments about my work triggering people’s “caterpillar-phobias”, or just some people saying this is way too disturbing for them to look at.
I do find that feedback pretty funny. I think a lot of my work causes people a lot of discomfort and I’m quite proud of that.
3. You recently finished your Pilot Collection, A self~portraiture study of self~perspective. Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind it and describe your process in creating everything?
It was a bit of introspection that came to me over lockdown. I had to completely cut off my external inspiration so it was just me, alone. I spent a lot of time observing myself in the mirror and I was going through a major creative block. I couldn’t get past it and didn’t know what to do so I just went back to my comfortable state of self-portraiture through jewelry and photography.
I started to print out images of my face and then brought in the acetate. Honing in on my eye, it became a somewhat cliche study of identity, but it was definitely a time of self-study which led to the weird eye pieces.
I was also going through quite a dark time under the impression that nothing was going to get better so my work became very weird and warped. It’s the feeling of being inside for too long and never really seeing anyone else and everything gets really weird so I portrayed that in your work.
4. Your pieces are meticulously put together and reflect an avant-garde approach to jewelry. What has been one of the biggest challenges in your work and how did you overcome it?
Not having one-on-one access to facilities at my university was difficult. I struggled with putting my pieces together, especially because they’re so meticulously designed, so I really had to rely on my own knowledge and ability to overcome more technical issues with my work. Everything became ten times harder because I couldn’t just ask a technician how to do something so I had to figure it out for myself.
I’ve been working with some rivets and tiny metal, and it breaks so much––and it does my head in when it does––but once it starts working, it’s great but that’s been quite a big problem otherwise. The bedroom-turned-workshop situation going on it’s a bit weird. I've got a massive gas canister with a blow torch right next to my bed.
But that’s good because now I’ve learned that I can stand on my own two feet and I don’t always have to go and ask for help. Although it’s great and I will definitely be doing that back in uni but learning more myself has definitely been good.