Meet the Maker
Our Monthly Meet the Maker is back for 2018 and this January we are chatting to MJN member Ilona Palarz, the other half of Kula Gallery and owner of Tillverkaren.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
Hi ! I’m Ilona, I grew up in a small village just outside of the city of Czestochowa in central Poland. I moved to Manchester, UK in 2007 and it was here that i discovered my passion for jeweellery.
I completed a Level 3 Diploma in Design and Visual Arts, achiving a mark of ”Distinction”. Since then I have created my own brand called “Tillverkaren
” which gives me creative licence for my bespoke and original jewellery. I am also a partner in the up and coming “Kula Gallery
” in Manchester in Northern Quarter.
What drew you into making jewellery and pursuing a career in the craft?
I have loved arts and crafts for as long as I remember. I made my first necklace from rowan berries when I was 10 years old and I experimented with card making and jewellery from beads. Eventually, completing an Art and Design course enabled me to realise my potential.
When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, all I ever wanted to do was be creative with my hands. Jewellery making has fulfilled my childhood dream.
What is it about your own jewellery/business/ independently making jewellery that you enjoy the most?
The most enjoyable part of jewellery making for me is the transformation of a flat sheet of silver or wire into something which is stunning and beautiful.
What hasn’t gone as you expected in your career?
Initially I expected to work exclusively with silver, however I now work with many materials and media.
What is your favourite piece of advice or feedback that have you been given that has given you the confidence to persevere?
My sister always encouraged me to be myself and don’t follow the crowd. She told me to dream “BIG” work “HARD” and if I do, I can achieve anything I want to in life.
What are your key inspirations in your practice?
Nature is my strongest inspiration. I come from a rural village in Poland where I love to run around in the fields and notice the individuality of the trees and their leaves, but now that I live in the big city in the UK, my current environment also influences my work so this creates an interesting juxtaposition.
What is your favourite tool in your toolbox?
My favourite tool is “saw pierce”. I love cutting out different shapes from metals with it and I have also had this saw with me from beginning of my jewellery making career.
How do you spend a typical weekend/day off from making?
I love to relax and be surrounded by nature. Sometimes I will cycle to the park and sometimes I will take the train into the countryside. It feels like home for me.
Which project or piece in particular are you most proud of so far and why?
I am very fond of all my work with semi-precious stones but I am particularly drawn to my collection with leaves and Moss Agate, as this stone is especially beautiful and is my favourite.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am working on a “collection” for the Manchester Art Gallery
Exhibition, it is called “Flower Drop”
Do you have any current or upcoming shows where we can see your work in person?
You can always pop into Kula Gallery
to see my work at any time or from February you can go to Manchester Art Gallery where my “Flower Drop” collection will be on display.
Could you choose one of your favourite designers from MJN and tell us why?