Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine by Jo Aslett – VE’s Roving Reporter


Being a fan of Tatty Devine jewellery, I obviously jumped at the chance to go to an exhibition which showcases some of their best-loved pieces over the last 20 years.

Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine, is organised by the Crafts Council and celebrates the rise and success of design duo Harriet Vine and Rosie Wolfenden, who founded Tatty Devine in 1999 after they graduated from Chelsea College of Art.

The exhibition space is fairly minimal, but the blank canvas is the ideal space for Harriet and Rosie’s colourful pieces to make an impact as soon as you walk in.

Giant acrylic cut-outs of their iconic parrots, lobsters, rainbows and dinosaurs hang from the ceiling, while their coveted large statement pieces, along with design notes, flyers and photos are housed in acrylic boxes to stop sticky fingers from picking them up and trying them on.

They were still un-packing some of the 100 pieces that will be on display when I arrived on the press day, but it didn’t really matter - as soon as Rosie saw my Tatty Divine white tiger necklace, and I her giant lightning bolt earrings, we started chatting and she was happy to give me the personal tour of the last 20 years.

A nod to their first market stall in east London starts the time-line off, displaying some of their earlier pieces, including leather cuffs and piano key belts.

Turning everyday disposable objects into wearable pieces of jewellery appealed to the public, who at the time, were crying out for something new and edgy to wear. Within a year they had already featured in Vogue and were supplying Harvey Nichols and Whistles with their pieces.

A trip to New York in 2001 introduced them to laser-cut acrylic (rarely used in jewellery at the time), and on their return, they bought a laser-cutting machine, which allowed them to develop their designs and produce the eye-catching and humorous creations they are known for today.

The successful and innovative designs of this British company (which are all still handmade in the UK), have allowed them to collaborate with musicians, artists, fashion designers, and museums, as well as working on charity campaigns close to their heart, some of which feature in this exhibition.

I can never wear one of their pieces without someone commenting – they’re definitely a talking point and so is this exhibition. So hold on to your pieces if you have them, especially if they are early ones – they will surely be the collectables of tomorrow.

This free exhibition is currently on at Central St Martin’s Lethaby Gallery in London from 20th July – 11th August 2019 before a UK-wide tour.

Visit the Crafts Council website.

The Wilson, Cheltenham (7th September - 9th November 2019)
De Montfort University, Leicester (16th November 2019 - 1st February 2020)
Stephen Lawrence Gallery, Greenwich University (24th February - 3rd April 2020)
Ty Pwab, Wrexham, Wales (10th July - 13th September 2020)
Hove Museum and Art Gallery, Brighton and Hove (3rd October 2020 - 26th January 2021)
New Brewery Arts, Cirencester, Cotswolds (21st June - 10th September 2021)

Woo Gilchrist