Best known as a jeweller, artist Wendy Ramshaw has recently gone up the scale and magnified her work output. Current commissions include a large mobile sculpture at the entrance of Reading Town Hall and Museum, a mural for a supermarket in Pimlico, a set of park gates for Sunderland City Council and a public art project for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, where Ramshaw has created a series of sculptures and street bollards in her trademark cone shapes, which stand like stretched-tall chess pieces.
‘Even as recently as five years ago most of my work was small scale, the opposite is true now,’ says Ramshaw. The transposition started after a phonecall from architect Richard MacCormac. ‘He asked me if I’d like to make a gate for St John’s College, Oxford. There are many similarities in designing a piece of jewellery and a gate, the approach is the same and they are based upon the proportions and rhythms to be found in my jewellery. The greatest difference is that when I’m working on larger pieces I become part of a team, which might include anyone from structural engineers to planners from the local council.’
One of the most intriguing and successful aspects of Ramshaw’s large work is its ability to work simultaneously at full-size and small-scale levels. An example of this is the pair of screens made for the V&A Museum’s new Research and Conservation Centre. The two pieces are cut from one massive plate of steel and yet incorporate the most delicate details in the tiny glass lens which contains fragments of ceramic, paper, leather and other materials related to the collection.
‘One constant in my work is the interest in reaching beyond the immediate materials experimenting with colour and surface,’ says Ramshaw. She has always worked with a broad palette, but metals have remained dominant. ‘Metals are intriguing to work with and have a long life, which makes them ideal for art in public places. I’m using different metals and techniques, taking my cue from the surroundings is something I’ve really relished.’