Jamie and I were introduced around fifteen years ago by a mutual friend who thought that the two people he knew who both made kinetic sculpture (mobiles) would probably have quite a lot in common! We have been married for 13 years and have been collaborating on art projects throughout that time alongside Jamie’s career in state education. We live and work in Ilkley with our two daughters.
There are a number of recurrent themes present in our work which we always explore through the abstract form of the ‘mobile’. These include migration, music, sound and quietness, physical and mental health, the complexity of relationships, the patterns and structures found in nature and in the animal world, questions of faith and issues relating to what is valued and what goes to waste. These themes are sometimes explored explicitly but are often also implicit and are buried more deeply in our working practices and in our motivations for continuing to create artworks.
Jamie and I believe passionately that mobiles possess a set of very specific formal and aesthetic qualities which make them relevant, compelling and unique in a number of ways. These are:
Balance – Mobiles embody the theme of balance and the ongoing search for it in all aspects of our lives and the world around us. They involve the counter-balancing of different, often heavy, elements but the points of equilibrium are miniscule. A single breath blowing on the shapes can radically change the way the mobile turns.
Freedom within a structure – The individual elements within each mobile have a limited sphere of movement but within that space they explore every possible configuration and relationship. It is impossible to predict the ever changing shapes that a mobile will create as it moves.
Mindfulness and engagement – The fluid movement of mobiles is engaging and they invite the viewer to search for the next shape, the next configuration. In this way they draw us in and ground us in the present moment, encouraging mindfulness and contemplation. As a result we have found that mobiles can perform a therapeutic function.
Secondary forms – Mobiles invite us to look at the changing spaces generated in-between the shapes and they interact with their physical context by creating shadows and framing what is behind them. These shadows and spaces can be seen as aesthetic experiences in their own right, in effect secondary artforms created by the original artwork as it interacts with its environment.
“I have always loved Juliet and Jamie’s work and admired it at exhibitions, but I never anticipated how much I would enjoy living with a mobile in my home. It has become a focal point in our living space, we watch it move, observe the shadows it creates at different times of the day and all of my family have commented on its calming nature. The oak and ash compliment the landscape beyond. It’s unique, beautifully made and a very special work of art.”
“What I love about Jamie and Juliet’s mobiles is that they give me such pleasure. I’ve hung mine in the dining area of my kitchen, and the changing light and air currents of the room reflect on the mobile under which I sit watching it change and move.”
Lady Diana Brittan
‘As a depression sufferer, to gaze at the silent, gentle movements casting weird and wonderful shadows on the wall has been therapeutic. My mobile is a beautifully crafted, moving piece of art! Thank you Juliet and Jamie.’
We have been making mobiles (at first independently of each other and then in partnership) for around 20 years and have developed a deep understanding of the artform as well as considerable expertise in a range of materials and processes.
In recent years we have settled upon a collaborative way of working in wood veneer which has distinct phases. The same process is used for large or small projects with only slight variations.
Phase 1 – Identification and exploration of theme
Phase 2 – Selection and generation of forms from initial drawings (2D)
Phase 4 – Creation of templates and cutting out the wooden veneer (2D)
Phase 5 – Creation of laminated shapes (3D)
Phase 6 – Trimming, mending and sanding
Phase 7 – Hanging of individual elements into final mobiles and selection of works that will form the series
Phase 8 – Finishing – Pieces are waxed, painted or paper/material is also sometimes used as a means of applying a coloured or textured finish.
Phase 9 – Creation of titles – The titles of pieces in a series are usually taken from a poem written by Juliet on the chosen theme. We often use or create collective nouns as the title of a series of works. The poem is often written over a period of time while the pieces are being made.
Phase 10 – Scaling up (if required) and installation