maltings meets: Rosie Wesley

posted Fri 15 October 2021

News Story

On the eve of this year's festival of crafts, we spoke to metalwork designer and maker Rosie Wesley.

Based in the New Forest, Rosie is inspired by her local surroundings and reflects this in the pieces she creates. Using burn-out casting techniques to transform natural objects into metal, Rosie's sculptural works and jewellery are truly one-of-a-kind.

You graduated from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham with a BA (Hons) in metalwork. When did you decide that this was the medium you wanted to work with and why?

Before my degree, I already had 3 years of experience in metalwork, as I had previously been working for an ironworks company fabricating gates and railings. I had always loved working with metal and one of my main decisions in choosing the degree was to develop my skills in this area. I am a very curious person and keen to learn so the degree was something that I could really sink my teeth into. I was mainly fascinated in the ways that metals can be molecularly changed through different making processes such and heating and patination and I fell in love with the primitive way of working.

Which techniques and processes do you use to make such unique pieces?

My main making process is one that I developed and perfected whilst studying on my degree and is an adaptation of traditional lost wax casting. Instead of creating a mould of my object and producing multiple wax replicas of a single piece, all my work is cast directly from the material, which means that they are burnt away in the casting process, creating a one-of-a-kind artwork every time. This is a very time consuming and technical process, but it is one that has been inspired by ancient metalworking techniques to produce new and contemporary results.

The natural world features heavily in both your sculptural work and jewellery. How would you describe your own relationship with nature and how does this translate in your work?

My work is all about celebrating our fleeting moments in nature. My own relationship with our natural world is very similar to many others and I find the time that I spend in open, untouched places to be calming. I also find that returning to favourite walks gives me great feelings of nostalgia. The space may look different, but our memories flood back. This is what I try to capture an essence of in my work.

A walk in a forest will always be remembered by the acorn in my pocket and each time I put my jacket on, it is re-discovered and the walk is re-lived. Transforming these objects into metal allows the memory of that moment in nature to become preserved forever.

What is your proudest achievement?

I am probably most proud of winning the Little Forest Land Art award last year with a piece of site-specific work that was created for an outdoor sculpture exhibition. My sculpture was mounted on a tree stump, belonging to an ancient oak that had been struck by lightning. I made the work using bark from the tree to create a commemorative piece that preserved the memory of the tree and also created a new life for it. It felt incredible to have the opportunity to create this work and to be recognised as a skilled and talented sculptor. I have also been invited to join the judging panel for the competition this year, which has felt like a real honour.

A tree stump in a forest with two dark tree bark like sculptures on top

What are you most looking forward to about festival of crafts?

The Festival of Crafts has always been my favourite show of the year to exhibit at and after such a difficult time it feels all the more special to be returning this year for their 25th anniversary. The level of work is outstanding and artisans are chosen for their level of skill in their craft which is always evident. I always enjoy meeting other creatives and discussing our processes and inspirations.

I also love the opportunity to return to my university town and as it is part of Farnham Craft Month, I always try to make time to visit other exhibitions in the town whilst I am there. The wealth and history of craft in the town is amazing and there is always a very impressive range of work on show in October.

Meet Rosie and over 50 other talented craftspeople at festival of crafts on Sat 16 & Sun 17 October (9am-4pm).