Nora Fok combines jewelry design with textile art in her science- and math-inspired wearable artworks. Fok, who is based in southeast England, works in her home studio creating all of her pieces manually, using hand tools, fine nylon microfilament and basic processes like weaving, knitting, braiding, and knotting. The work above is comprised of 3,500 knit spheres, and finished pieces can take weeks to produce.
Born in Hong Kong, Nora had to leave school at 12 to work in a factory assembling toys and computer components. Nora says the experience gave her the structure and discipline which still underpins her work. “It also made me determined to leave the factory and have a career in art and design”. She studied in Hong Kong and worked there as a graphic designer. In 1978 she was accepted on the three-dimensional design course a Brighton Polytechnic, which emphasised an experimental approach to materials.
In 1984 Nora married artist and lecturer, Frank Hills. After her first son was born, she decided to work as a jeweller exclusively with nylon monofilament – it could be done from home using simple equipment and techniques.
This was quite a challenge as Nora had to learn new processes and develop creative ways of using the material. “My major break through came in 1997 when Jackie Binns curated, ‘Galaxies’, my first solo exhibition at Hove Museum and Art Gallery and Tim Wilcox reviewed my jewellery in Crafts magazine”. Since then her work has been widely recognized internationally by inclusion in exhibitions, collections, and gallery shops. In 2010 she was one of 29 makers to be awarded the Jerwood prize for contemporary makers.
The artist describes her inspiration on her website:
“She is intrigued by the world around her; she also asks questions and tries to find answers to them. She is fascinated by different aspects of nature, structure, systems and order, and the mysteries and magic which she sets out to capture in her work.”
Fok has artwork that is currently being shown in the Jewelry of Ideas exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, which is up through May 2018, and she shares exhibition dates and a small archive of jewelry on her website. If you like Nora’s work, also check out Mariko Kusumoto.