Jewellery designer Xanthe O’Connor – sculptural silver

Jewellery designer Xanthe Sunni O’Connor in her own words……
The Journey

I have always different materials and media platforms to express and explore ideas and concepts. From drawing bacteria on petri dishes in my father’s laboratory, to cutting up curtains to make my first pair of flares.

Early creativity
When I was 17 I went to India for two years, there I designed dresses based on ethnic designs from the Northern part of India.

Film and television
On my return I began work backstage in the theatre, progressing rapidly into acting, film directing/production. I went on to study for an MSc in Film at Napier University. I produced three international co-productions, some BBC and STV short films and documentaries
During this time I also worked at The Edinburgh International Film Festival and The Edinburgh International Festival. I attended Cannes Film Festival and International Documentary Festivals in Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Barcelona, Cannes and Genoa.

A change of direction
Sometimes we have to make unscheduled changes in our path and embrace as we go, So whilst between operations, I looked for voluntary work in the medical sector. As the daughter of a virologist and a nurse, I knew I would feel comfortable in this environment and also I wanted to put something back.

During my MSc in Film I gained a lot of psychological insight into understanding a character’s sub text, motivation and body language. So I enlisted to do some simulated patient roles at Edinburgh Medical School and I loved it, as it seemed to bring many of my life skills to the fore in a practical way.

This led to working with the head of education at the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh and a clinical psychologist which involved writing medical scenarios that correlated with marking sheets, then role play and marking candidates. The pilot was successful and rolled out nationwide. That really brought home the stress and pressure that NHS medical consultants have to go through on an hourly basis, from life saving surgery to breaking bad news. It’s not a job, but a way of life and only for those with incredible courage and stamina.

And so to jewellery….

Once again due to circumstances I found myself turning to other creative outlets and returned to my lifelong passion for semi-precious stones and silver. After studying silversmithing & lapidary (the craft of cutting and polishing stones) over a number of years. I established a studio at Summerhall and am now a full time jewellery designer and maker, drawing inspiration from natural landscapes and hand cutting stones and setting them in silver. My passion is driven by examining the elemental forces that create nature’s art and how to replicate a microcosm of these powerful juxtaposed elements that sculpt, form and create, into wearable jewellery.”