Stuart Cairns

Stuart Cairns is an applied artist living and working in Northern Ireland, interested in approaching table objects from a sculptural and expressive point of view. He sees the forms of utensils, vessels and tools as opportunities to play and explore with different materials and found objects, presenting familiar forms and shapes in different contexts. In doing so he hopes to demonstrate the richness within our physical material culture and draw upon the associative qualities of materials and forms to create stories and experiences, real or imagined, within the user’s mind.

What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I think I haven’t really given much thought to the “rules” of being a silversmith, I make using the materials I love to use, which I suppose runs against what tradition might expect me to use. I’ve never been especially interested in doing what was expected of me and much more interested in doing what I felt I needed to do, perhaps there is rebellion in that! In terms of metal work, for my work I’m not interested in polished finishes or ostentation, I think others do that much better than I could so I’ll stick to making my strange creations!

Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your spoons?
I don’t think so, I don’t see them as acts of rebellion, more as acts of play and a fascination with things. I think someone just has to be interested, to have an open and enquiring mind to hopefully enjoy my work. Maybe also be a bit playful as the pieces are as much about play as anything else.

Do you use your own spoons?
No! To me they are more playing with the idea of the function of a spoon, rather than a functional thing. Most I imagine could be quite awkward to use but hopefully interesting to hold and observe.

Do you think spoons can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
I always think there are more materials, shapes and means of making things to explore so there are always ways to take the work forward.

What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
I saw it as another opportunity to play with materials and construction within the confines of the idea of the spoon and also have a bit of fun.

Describe your work in 3 words!
Materialistic. Fun. Landscape.

What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
I tend to use all sorts of materials, combining silver from bullion dealers with found objects I collect on walks through the woods, along the shoreline and on city streets. Whatever I can find that holds my interest.

What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a series of objects for an installation reflecting my residency in Pietrafitta in Italy for an exhibition in Belfast with my creative collective Mak9.

What excites you about tomorrow?
The chance to see something differently, the chance to make something new.

What has been your favourite dinner experience?
Any dinner with good food and good friends.

What further ambitions do you have?
Just to keep making interesting things which brings something good to people.

What are your 3 favourite pieces on Jouw…?
There is so much great work there but a few of my favourites are the Gold Wrench Fork by Nils Hint, it combines industrial brutality with delicate making into something quite beautiful. The work of Maki Okamoto is so playful with the reworked found forms, the One Finger Fork is especially funny and quite punk. Sophie Hanagarth’s work has such a wonderful feel of nature and is fantastically sculptural, the Worm Tracks Spoon with its round lines is a particular favourite.