Iona Turner (She/Her)
Essay Prize for Design, The Peter Wylie Davidson Memorial Prize
The Seaweed Gatherer is an ongoing jewellery collection materialised from gathered seaweed. The process is that of careful attention to, and immersion in, seaweeds’ wild ecology. Following the cycles of the moon and rhythms of the tide, seaweeds shapeshift from their submerged to storm-cast state. Submerged Knotted Wrack (Ascophyllum nodosum) stands tall; holdfasts cling tightly to intertidal rock; stem-like fronds perform an elegant dance of protection and nutrition for many creatures of the sea. Human time in seaweed’s sub-marine world is limited by breath, though the experience endures as creative inspiration. After the storm and tides recede Knotted Wrack may come away from the rock to be found ashore – storm-cast. Here, without live ecology to inhibit, is where seaweed is gathered, having travelled near and far in varying stages of decay; such variations in detail become the work’s colour pallet and organic pattern. Clusters of abundance mimic nature’s sub-marine growth patterns created, in honour of seaweed’s ecological value, through fine detail processes as yet reserved for economically valuable precious metals. The collection holds holistic aspirations, conscious of betraying the meditative qualities of gathering. Any necessary accompanying materials, the combined conduit through which the body bonds with the seaweed, are selected with the intention of reducing synthetic consumption while enhancing conceptual significance. Natural metal patina is chosen to invoke patterns of sprawled Paint-Weed (Lithophyllum incrustans) formations.
By becoming familiar with seaweeds and the ecosystem in which they exist, our relationships to these non-human species provides a catalyst for wearable works.
The Seaweed Gatherer
Knotted-Wrack Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Brass, Bio resin
30 x 19 x 5 cm
Once gathered, bladders are rinsed and dried in the sun preventing further decay, however, the colour it displays on the piece is dependant on decay at the time of gathering. Further variation is found in where each seaweed once grew: Knotted wrack on more sheltered shores grows larger, whereas, those on more exposed grow smaller.
Knotted-Wrack Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Hemp cord, Steel
65 x 8 x 5 cm
Feannagan is a long-standing practice of crofters on the Western Isles where seaweed, including Knotted-wrack is used to fortify the land. The practice involves the layering of seaweed and turf into long narrow beds. In the damp of the turf, seaweed rots and transports its rich nutrients of the sea to the hill-side land for growth of potatoes.
Seaweed flung ashore by storms and the tides are collected for Feannagan. In anticipation of spring planting, February’s spring tides bring the largest quantities ashore. Neckpiece – Feannagan – admires this use of organic available resource, following the crofters to the February strandline where Knotted-wrack bladders are frugally gathered, to be carefully crafted into jewels. Accompanying Knotted-wrack on the body are long narrow strands of patinaed brass. This rich colour and pattern is achieved when brass is sealed in a glass jar with Knotted-wrack dampened in soy sauce.The patina achieved invokes patterns of sprawled Paint Weed (Lithophyllum incrustans): a species that adorns intertidal rocks across coastal Scotland. The brass takes the fragmented form of Coral-weed (Corallina officinalis) – a salient species that suffers the effects of less conscientious human practices. Rising sea levels cause ocean acidification, breaking down Coral-weed’s chalky calcium carbonate skeleton.
Knotted-Wrack Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Brass, Steel
9.5 x 7 x 5 cm
A holdfast is the root-like structure that anchors seaweed to the seabed. In this piece, a brooch pin anchors Knotted-wrack seaweed to the body.
Knotted-Wrack Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Hemp cord
Knotted-wrack debris are left by the high tide on the strandline. Submerged seaweed produces a single bladder annually. Visually the simple bead-like design is to invoke spiritual symbol.
Knotted-Wrack Seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum), Brass
10 x 7 x 5 cm