Rebecca Jewell is a London-based printmaker and collage artist. Her work is a cross-cultural examination of the human exploitation and veneration of birds. Her intricate drawings of artefacts and bird specimens, and her unique feather collages, are inspired by material culture and Natural History collections in museums as well as issues around the contemporary hunting and trapping of birds. Jewell has a PhD from the Royal College of Art (2004, entitled Understanding Pacific Feather Art through Drawing) and is Artist in Residence in the Oceania department of the British Museum. She has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally. Her work is held in the British Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology as well as in many private collections.
My tutor at the Royal College of Art, John Norris Wood, said that drawing was about capturing the ‘spirit’ of the subject. He encouraged us to draw from life where possible and I have spent much time doing this - drawing from Natural History specimens, artefacts in museums and animals and plants in the field. Drawing is about problem solving and decision making; the act of drawing is itself a journey of discovery. Both the finished drawing and the process of drawing become a part of that object’s life cycle; represented on paper, the artefact takes on a new life and the artist gives it a new interpretation. Beforehand it may have been static, lying dormant on a shelf and through the drawing it becomes mobile and portable and takes on a new meaning.