Intricate, ethereal and thought provoking – Fiona Hermse

Edinburgh-based Artist Jeweler Fiona Hermse  creates work that is beautiful, haunting, and immediately arresting. She is currently exhibiting her work as part of the fifth annual Birmingham FLUX exhibition, which promotes new emerging designer-makers. Lothian Life caught up with her to learn a little bit more about her unique, eye-catching designs.

The inspiration behind Fiona’s work comes from a number of fascinating places, particularly the folkloric interpretations of animals and the natural world. Fiona’s collection ‘Soul’ explores some of the darker aspects of nature: ‘Ever since I started making, nature has always been where I have taken my inspiration from but I became particularly interested in how it can frighten and fascinate us at the same time. I began the project by looking at spiders’ cocoons and my childhood fascination and fear of them, which was all to do with what the cocoon is concealing inside.’

But it isn’t only beasties that Fiona incorporates into her art. With a distinctly mysterious element, her latest collections, ‘Pure’ and ‘Soul’ explore the weather. Fiona says, ‘I became concerned with more intangible aspects such as mist, light and shadow.’ Fiona believes that this interest in landscape was brought on in particular by visiting remote parts of Scotland such as parts of the Isle of Skye, where her parents now live.

Fiona’s work can be divided into two elements: the wearable pieces of jewelry she makes, and the artworks she creates. Both are drawn from similar inspiration. What does differ, however, is the medium she uses. Fiona comments, ‘in the Soul collection, visual delicacy was the drive for the materials I chose.  By using fine steel and iron wire I could create visually delicate pieces which are deceptively strong. An added attraction of using iron was its superstitious connections; it is an old Scottish folk superstition that to “touch cold iron” is an antidote to something unlucky.’

This Scottish thread winds its way throughout Fiona’s work, and it is apparent that much of her work has an almost child-like wonder to it. She agrees. ‘I think there are definitely elements of my childhood in my work. Having been brought up in a quite a rural part of Aberdeenshire, I spent a lot of time watching insects and collecting natural objects such as leaves and flowers.’

Whether hand-winding intricate chrysalis from silver wire, or recreating ‘ancient beliefs that the moth and butterfly embody the human soul’, a concept that Fiona finds ‘particularly poignant and beautiful’, her work constantly references humanity and human endeavour.

In a world where mass-produced jewelry is accessible and affordable, I asked Fiona what she feels the place of handmade jewelry is in today’s culture. She says that, to ensure that quality contemporary craft continues to be produced, buyers must choose handmade.

‘ The appeal of the handmade is very important to me’, she says, emphasizing that to ‘buy something which has been hand crafted by a professional designer maker, rather than mass produced, is both meaningful and adds to the object’s preciousness, you know that you and the maker are both getting a fair deal.’

Fiona believes that this philosophy should apply to both art as well as jewelry, and believes that two different categories of work she produces in fact make her a stronger artist overall. She outlines her mission statement.

‘I see the pieces in my Soul collection as art pieces because they are one off works of art with a complex philosophy behind them. The purpose of them is to make the viewer or wearer feel, ponder or think.’

Conversely, she sees the pieces in her Pure collection ‘less as art pieces and more as designer made jewelry.’

Intricate, ethereal and thought provoking: Fiona Hermse is an artist to watch out for. Pieces from Fiona Hermse’s Pure and Soul collections are currently available locally at Pebbles, 9 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh as well as available to order via her website She also undertakes private commissions.

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