Precious Objects

My Precious Objects collections use and celebrate found objects and old tools. A selection of pieces are available for sale on madebyhandonline and I am very happy to discuss personal commissions using your own precious family heirloom tools and cloth. There’s a longer discussion of the background to this work below.

The Precious Objects collection is also available for exhibitions in contemporary galleries and museums.

Ruth Singer. Figures of Africa

Ruth Singer. Figures of Africa

Having worked in museums at the start of my career, I find old objects fascinating, inspiring and precious. This series of work stems from a commission in 2009 for Derby Museums to create new contemporary craft taking inspiration from their collection of African objects.

After visiting the museum stores, I decided to make pieces exploring museums, the value we put on objects and the way we look after them in museums, protected in layers of tissue and stored away until their time comes to be seen. Since then I have continued to use objects as inspiration and incorporated into my work.


Tool Shed using my grandad’s tools as inspiration

Metamorphosis, inspired by a Nigerian charm gown with amulets

Monumental Folly, using objects with a hidden personal narrative

Many of the precious objects are tools or functional objects which already have integral narratives embedded within them; the makers of the tools, the makers who used them, those who kept, sold and bought them. Old tools and personal, functional objects create a very real sense of the people who owned and used them. I want to celebrate that history, preserve those memories (or create new ones) by my interventions with these objects, memorialising and honouring others’ skill and expertise, using my skill and expertise.

Each of the objects I work with has its own story. I buy, collect and save tools and intriguing objects with the aim of transforming them, preserving and honouring them. My choices of cloth, thread, colours and stitch techniques grow from a research period while I study and contemplate the objects. Usually the textile interventions are inspired directly by the object or an imagined narrative around them. For example in BOOKBINDER, a bookbinders tool is ornamented with gold thread and burgundy silk echoing a gilded leather book jacket and is presented in a rich fabric lined case reflecting the luxury of a fine bound book.
Ruth Singer : Precious Objects

The choice of boxes and domes to display the pieces grew from my own displays and collections of objects in my home and studio. To me the boxes reference museum storage, collecting and cabinets of curiosity while glass domes elevate humble pieces into plinth-worthy museum pieces. I enjoy playing with ideas of museology, collecting and display.