Bronwen Gwillim creates bold, one-off, statement jewellery, small containers and mobiles. Shecallsherself a “plasticsmith”, using existing mountains of thrown-away plasticas a raw resource for making. Originally trainedas a jeweller and silversmith at Camberwell School of Art, she gained an interest in plastics and resins whileundertaking an MA at Bath Spa University. Juxtaposingwaste with recycled silver, Bronwenseeksto challenge perceptions of preciousness, reappraisingplastic as a precious material,to be used sparingly and without damage to theenvironment. Producing one-offs and small batches by hand enables an experimental approach which she finds exciting,and which creates singular and sustainable products.
Workingin partnership with a rangeof companies, Bronwen sources plastics that can’t be easily recycled commercially. Finding materials is time consuming and colour and texture is crucial to herselection. Sheemphasises theseintrinsic qualities of thefoundplastics by using only hand tools to cut, file and scratch surfaces. Leftoverdust from cutting is mixed with binders, creatinga new composite material uncannilylike stone. Her slow,considered approach is inspired by natural processes of weathering; object shapes can resemble those found onbeaches.
Bronwen was Design-Nation’s Best Newcomer at MADE London in 2019, when she joined the portfolio. She says, “Craft has always known the importance of working with and understanding materials. This has never been more important than it is today when we must turn our attention to using new materials and production methods in order to be more sustainable. Sadly plastic waste is going to be around for a long time, so we might as well embrace it as an opportunity to make beautiful things.”