August 12, 2014 – Style
A Rat handbag? It’s either love it or hate it. But the meaning inside the bag is what is beautiful. Emer Roberts explains her furry idea.

Five years ago, I would not have foreseen a transition towards jewellery design and production. It now makes complete sense. As a trained sculptor, my practice has evolved through the study of species, similarity, duality, systems of classification, the institutional frame and hierarchical notions. These key words amongst many others sum up my continued line of inquiry.

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Fast forward to the present and my jewellery is my sculpture, albeit miniature. I wouldn’t do it otherwise. Fine art is not the wisest financial decision as a career yet being self-employed and doing what I love were the simple factors in my decision to move into jewellery. I am an avid mold maker and a rat enthusiast so (naturally) I married the two. To put the rat in context to my practice; I lost a sibling half a decade ago and the rat seemed at that time to convey the nuances of grief, belief and the dialogue of evolution that was already inherent in my work. From one mammal to the next, the overall intrigue of this mammal is its similarity to us, the human mammal. Physical, cultural, social similarities. It is the physical similarities that one can study in these sculptural jewellery pieces. From the pup to the fluff, weaner and adult, my all consuming passion is to create insight into the biological composition of the rat from infancy through to maturity.

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Process and Technical Parts:

Explaining the steps I take in order to create jewellery from a rodent might certainly not be to everyone’s taste. Being a mold maker comes in handy when the desire to create anatomically correct rat jewellery arises. Baring in mind that I source the rats from a reptile specialist store in Dublin, I am mindful and buy as few as needed. My first rat mold a few years ago was a tiny pink skinned pup. Regardless of species, people respond to infants with an admiration for innocence and this triggered an idea to create an easier connection with a species so abhorred. I began casting resin rats and as the protruding limbs easily broke on impact, I began casting the limbs and tails in silver which in turn highlighted how beautiful they were as pieces in themselves. This is part of a collection I am working on. I am also experimenting with a collection of polyurethane plastic clutch purses, cast from a large rat. Continuing the notion of bringing something taboo into the home under a different guise, the wearer is essentially placing a rat on their kitchen table. This will evolve towards more visually pleasing high gloss black and silver bags. Included below is a link showing a step by step visual guide to the mold making process and also an insight into previous sculptural work. MOUTH is a collaborative force of speculative food-artists and philosophers that I have worked alongside in the strangest and most brilliant instances.

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