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.
If you had access to all the powers, how would you improve the world?
Protect and rewild large areas of land and oceans to let the biodiversity return while also sequestering more carbon. I’d also ban plastics to force investments in bio-friendly alternatives. A move towards a largely plant-based diet would be done as well.
What are the biggest sustainability challenges in your work and how are you addressing them?
Probably make more use of the find, committing to using more found materials and more recycled metals.
Which conscious lifestyle choices are you making? And are you considering any new ones?
Trying to consume less and trying to repair and or restore more things. I’m stitching more, practicing visible mending on my clothes so they last longer.
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 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 pieces?
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 has been your favorite dinner experience?
Any dinner with good food and good friends.
What excites you about tomorrow?
The chance to see something differently, the chance to make something new.
What are your 3 favorite pieces on Jouw…?
There is so much great work there but a few of my favorites 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 favorite.