I’ve had the pleasure of working with Photo London for three years, since its launch in 2015. Having had the honour of creating the ‘Master of Photography’ award for icons Sebastião Salgado and Don McCullen, I was thrilled to be asked this year to design an original piece of work for another hugely influential artist: Taryn Simon.
Simon is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, text, sculpture and performance. Guided by an interest in systems of categorisation and classification, her practice involves extensive research into the power and structure of secrecy and the precarious nature of survival.
To kick-start my thought process, I spent some time immersing myself in her work, and was drawn to the way she uses grids to categorise her work. Their geometric nature was something that resonated with our own design ethos, and these in turn became the frame for composing the fragmented ‘P’ and ‘L’ from Photo London’s identity.
Simon’s work explores the link between language and the visual world, and in ‘Paperwork and the Will of Capital’ she recreates the floral arrangements that were present at historic international agreements. Reminiscent of old-fashioned slides or polaroids, I took inspiration from these in the decision to split the identity across five slides that when layered, recreate the image as a whole.
The choice of materials for this award was crucial in accentuating the bold feel of the design. Simon’s work is often shocking and sad in a detached, emotionless way, so with this in mind I wanted to use tough, uncompromising materials. Stainless steel creates slim and precise slides that are strong and rigid, in combination with the subtle richness of dark walnut.
By polishing only the outside edges of these slides, the blades become highlighted and defined. The shapes appear to be abstract, but come together to form the Photo London identity when you look straight on at the award. Encouraging the viewer to investigate different angles was something I felt came through strongly in Simon’s work, especially in the unseen, classified environments she works in.
It is a continued honour to work with Photo London and create tactile, expressive pieces of work that recognise some of the world’s best photographers. Outside of our jewellery, we are always keen to hear about potential commissions that are sculptural in nature, so please do get in touch if you would like to discuss a collaboration.