Pearly Queens

I came across Ann Carrington’s work and was immediately impressed with the detail and uniqueness of it.  She uses a variety of materials like buttons, safety pins, silver forks, scallop shells, oyster shells and coconut husks in her designs.

Given the work I’d been doing on replicating silhouettes for the 1790 purse for The Holburne Project, I was particularly interested in the Pearly Queens; images of Queen Elizabeth II made entirely out of buttons!

Pearly Queens

The detail of it can’t really be appreciated until you see it a little closer…  The images are made from pearl, troca and abalone shell buttons and were commissioned in celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

“For a long time I had wanted to remake postage stamps as art works as the British First Class stamp representing the Queen is strikingly beautiful and yet we are so over familiar with it and because it is so small it is kind of invisible. So I decided to blow the stamp up – to present it in much bigger dimensions and as you do that all the printing dots appear like buttons – so I recreated these enormous stamps in buttons a la Pearly Kings and Queens.”

Ann Carrington

Pearly Queens, detail

The materials used in “Heads She Wins” aren’t immediately obvious, but it is a combination of safety pins, needles and zips on canvas.

Heads She Wins

Heads She Wins, detail

In 2010 Ann started working with the United Nations to help raise awareness of current issues through her art.  The first artwork was presented at the Human Trafficking conference in Luxor, Egypt, in December 2010.

The art work was entitled ‘From Fujian Province to Morecambe Bay’ and had been made in response to a news story when 23 Chinese workers harvesting cockles drowned against a rising tide on the shores of Morecambe Bay.

The female victims had been identified by their jewellery and this influenced the use of necklaces, bracelets and other chains as materials for the piece.

From Fujian Province to Morecambe Bay

From Fujian Province to Morecambe Bay, detail

I do like that Ann links her artwork to a story; it’s not just art for art’s sake.

 “I like my art works to tell a story and the materials are part and parcel of that.  All objects come with their own histories or associations whether you are talking about an old teapot, a pair of shoes or a box of old buttons. I like to explore and unravel the stories within an object to make a new narrative.”

“As soon as I was old enough to hold a pencil I wanted to draw, paint and make things.  I remember saving up for a year so I could purchase my first camera…”

Ann Carrington

…and there’s the link to the other common denominator!

I’ve included photos of a couple of other pieces of Ann’s work, for no reason other than I like them…

The Shell Ladies of Margate

Mrs Booth

Pearly Queens, colour


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