London Art Spot: Bernadette Fricker

Berny is here from sunny Oz, selling her nostalgic jewellery in London shops and the market in Stoke Newington. Scouring charity shops for dusty books, she’s created a unique product by taking pieces of well known stories like Alice in Wonderland and turning them into earrings and brooches.

She’s taken a bit of time to share some photos of her work, tell us the story of how it all started and about the latest range of jewellery to look out for soon. Check out her website for more:

“A baby deer was born. Oh my, there was so much excitement that day! Bambi necklace.”

LLO: How and when did you come up with the idea to make recycled jewellery from the pages of abandoned books?
Before I moved to the UK I found an old 1960’s children’s annual on a dusty shelf in a charity store in Melbourne. It was missing its cover and several pages but had the most beautiful illustrations and graphics inside and it seemed a terrible waste to just leave it sitting there lonely and abandoned on the shelf. I thought that it was destined for greater things and a measly 20 cents later it was mine. A few months later, when I moved to England, some of the pages managed to make the cut to be included in my excessively overstuffed suitcase.

“Quotation brooches 1, 2 and 3”


LLO: You have a bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture. Why the switch to making jewellery?  
When I moved over from Australia last May I was planning on looking for work  as a Landscape Architect but in an unfortunate coincidence I managed to time my move perfectly with the height of the recession so by the time I arrived there wasn’t a great deal of work around.  To keep myself occupied I decided to make something to sell at a local art market and since I had left my sewing machine back home in Oz, jewellery was the next thing that came to mind. Nine months later I’m still doing it and really loving every aspect of the work.

“Birds fly over the rainbow; Why then, oh why can’t I? – Selection of bird necklaces and brooches.”

LLO: Your shop on is called Skettie. What does that mean and where did the name come from?
‘Skettie’ was my nickname as a young kid and it seemed appropriate as my designs are bright, colourful and playful and some of them even come from books or images which I enjoyed as a kid. 

“Cigarette card range.”

LLO: Would you consider working with other similar materials like magazines, for example?
I started out making most of my pieces from the children’s annual I found back in Melbourne but since then I have found interesting materials in all shapes and sizes, including maps, magazines and even sheets of music. Most recently I found a stack of old cigarette collector cards with some great quirky images ranging from butterflies and birds to some extravagantly costumed figures which I have made into a range of earrings. I love the idea of taking something that has been damaged and neglected, whatever it may be, and transforming into an object that people can value and appreciate once more.

“Earrings created from Birds of England calender.”

“Where in the world – map earring range”

LLO: What books have you most recently recycled to make your jewellery?
I found a Judy Annual from the 1970’s in a charity shop in London which had a bit of water damage, but I have made a really fun range of quotation brooches from it. More recently I found a calendar with illustrations of English birds which have been made into a range of brooches and earrings.

“Floral cameo brooch”

LLO: Which shops are the best for finding suitable books?
There is a really brilliant second hand book store in Notting hill which has thousands and thousands of books and magazines. It has a huge basement too where everything is about 10p and I have found some great things down there. I love trawling through charity shops and flea markets to find interesting items; you never know what you will dig up. I even get people donating books to me that they have found and think might work. Another designer at a market brought me an old cookbook she had at home which had the most beautiful blue and white sketches of the architecture of Oxford. And a buyer from one of the shops where I sell my designs gave me two children’s books she had found at home which she was going to throw out.

“Floral earrings and brooch set.”

“Text cameo brooch”

LLO: Which creation are you most proud of so far and why?
At the moment I am working on a range of architecturally themed earrings which I quite fancy! The details in the church towers and the windows and doorways resemble wonderfully intricate lacework. I’m also working on a new range of designs inspired by cameo brooches which are due to hit the shelves soon.

“A selection of the architectural range.”

LLO: Which piece of jewellery has been the best selling since you started your business?
My earrings have been the best selling piece so far and come in two sizes. I had a range made from an old London tube map that proved very popular but quickly sold out and I have been on the hunt for another vintage tube map ever since. I don’t know that there is a particular ‘best selling design’ though as every single pair are unique, nearly all of them are one off images and its hard to know what individual people will like. I love that people get a real giggle out of a lot of the designs as they look through them all. Quite often they might recognise and reminisce over a design from a magazine or book they read as a child or will find a particular design that relates to a personal joke they have with a friend.

“Range of new cameo brooches”

LLO: Where can we find your jewellery in London?
You can find my jewellery in ‘Beyond the Valley’, just off Carnaby Street in Soho and in ‘Of Cabbages and Kings’. I also try to do as many markets as I can; some on the horizon include the monthly ‘Of Cabbages and Kings’ markets in Stoke Newington. 

“Selection of large earring range”

“Selection of small earring range”

LLO: Favourite London-based artists? 
There are some really talented designers whose work I’ve seen through markets I have done. I love Miso Funky’s ‘In case of emergency breakdance’ framed pictures and London Clay Birds is a favourite for her beautifully simple bird sculptures; I have two but want the whole flock!

“Where in the world – butterfly brooch”

Thanks Berny!

See more of Berny’s work here: or here:

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

One comment on “London Art Spot: Bernadette Fricker

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