The Chandelier of Lost Earrings (in partnership with artist Sharon Campbell)

“I like that sense of interconnectedness, where each and every lost earring has its own individual story to tell but when combined the whole story is greater than the sum of its parts.” Hazel Jones (earring contributor).

The Chandelier of Lost Earrings is a sculpture made from over 3000 single earrings donated by the owners who have lost the other of the pair. It is floor-standing, at 2.5 m x 1 m wide, constructed from these earrings, a scaffolding pole, hundreds of length of chain….and many contributors' stories.

It was created in response to conversations with staff at St Mary's Hospital and Nuclear Medicine in Manchester about art and its benefits. We had been presenting artwork installations in the courtyard that these departments look out onto, and we wanted to find out what staff felt about it. We learned that it offered a restful and nourishing diversion within a very busy and often stressful work day.
Through these discussions we decided to create a specific artwork for them: The Chandelier of Lost Earrings. The material, single earrings, would come from the community. It would be a way for the staff and patients to get involved in the artwork so that they felt very much a part of it without it being too stressful, thus increasing the sense of it being an island in a sometimes rough sea.

Staff and visitors contributed earrings and stories to the project, and then the word spread leading to women from all over Manchester and beyond sending in their contributions. The collection of earrings spanned several generations; women donating items from their grandmothers as well as their daughters. These earrings held a great deal of sentimental value as demonstrated by letters sent with them.
It has since won two national awards; the National Lottery Good Causes Award - Arts Category, and the British Women’s Artists Award, and has toured non stop throughout the UK, to Rochdale, London, Burnley, Manchester, Glasgow, Macclesfield, Grimsby and Scunthorpe.

I felt that the project demonstrated the power that public art can have when people connect with it on such a personal level. This experience can build on a love and appreciation of art and a personal investment in its public ownership.
The experience made me want to go even deeper into this approach to social engagement via art, story telling, and making.

  • Dimensions: 2.5mx1mx1m
  • Contexts: Public art
  • Artforms: Installation , Mixed media , Sculpture
  • Tags: Engaging People, Jewellery, Chandelier, Mass Participation, St Mary's Maternity Unit, Earrings, Manchester, touring, National Lottery Award 2014, British Women Artists