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August Craft Month- Open Studio and more..

August 14, 2022

August Craft month has well and truly started and it seems like a good time to get caught up. My contribution this year is taking part in two group exhibitions, an artist talk and an open studio at the end of the month.

It’s been a strange old year as for most of it I’ve had a bit of creative exhaustion after pushing hard with work through the pandemic. Although I’ve still been making, painting and creating it’s been a bit of a struggle but now I’m feeling I’m getting back into the flow of things properly.

Hinterlands vessel components.

As part of this I’m having an open studio on Saturday the 27th of August, 12pm- 6pm at 69 Craigdarragh Road, Helens Bay, County Down, Northern Ireland . My studio is at my aunt and uncles house there and the studio is located at the old garages down the right hand side of the house. I’ll be showing jewellery, original paintings, silversmithing objects and my illustration work in prints and cards and be happy to talk about what I do and how I do it.

Scribble pendant with gold

Last Thursday night Craft NI’s Craft Showcase exhibition opened, with guest curator Daniella Wells in attendance. I was delighted to have a set of pieces – Sprung Vessel and Spoon selected for inclusion and even more pleased to come away with a prize for Highly Commended work. Especially pleasing given the quality of maker I was showing beside. It’s an excellent show and I’d recommend a visit, there os also the chance to see Northern Ireland’s selected Craft Heroes as well with works by Michael McCrory, Seliena Coyle, Jack Doherty, Cara Murphy and Alison Lowry in the gallery.

Sprung Vessel and Spoon

Finally for now I also have a series of Hinterlands structures in Adornment at R-Space Gallery in Lisburn with the ACJSNI collective. It’s a jewellery based show investigating our connection and relationship with linen through material language, historic investigation and process. Nine makers from different backgrounds are showing with a really strong, broad range of work. Contact the gallery for further details as there are artists talks, and a workshop available.

Hinterlands structures – steel, linen thread and flax.

I’ll be updating my online stores in the coming weeks and I’ll keep you up to date with further irregular news letters. Thanks for reading , Stu.

MakingConversations Podcast

July 2, 2020

hawthornteaset angle 100dpi

A few weeks back I chatted to Robyn Galway and Jemma Millen about my creative life and practice for their Making Conversations podcast. The episode is now live on their website here. For iTunes here, Podbean here,Spotify here and Google podcasts here.

Hope you enjoy!




Art Of Gathering

September 3, 2019

melmore path b-w 72dpi

This September I’m taking part in the Art of Gathering  exhibition at the New Craftsman Gallery,  curated by Sarah Frangelton in St.Ives. A selection of my utensils, vessels and jewellery will be shown alongside the work of Joe Hogan, Forest & Found, Annemarie O’Sullivan, Patricia Shone, Michael Porter and Francesca Owen. The exhibition runs from the 14th of September to the 12th of October and I will be giving an artists talk as part of the St.Ives Festival on the 19th of September at 1pm in the St.Ives Art Club.

Further details can be found in the stunning online catalogue accompanying the exhibition which can be found here.


gathered set 1 72dpi


bench shot 72dpi.jpg

Current and upcoming Exhibitions.

June 11, 2019

I currently have work in a number of shows, with a few more confirmed in the months ahead.
Blackthorn Pouring Vessel features in the European Silversmiths Forum [HammerClub] exhibition Renewal in Dock Street Studios, Dundee until the 30th of June. It will then show at Elements: A Festival of Gold and Silver in Edinburgh in November 2019.

Stuart Cairns blackthorn pouring vessel 72dpi

Appetites and Objects in The Baltimore Jewelry Center in the US has a series of my utensils, From The Other Place shown alongside work by Corey Ackelmire, Jackie Andrews, Hannah Brill, Kristy Bujanic, Jeffrey Clancy, David Clarke, David Harper Clemons, Erin Daily, Lucy Derickson, Anastasia Green, Kaminer Haislip, Nils Hint, Jessica Howerton, John Williams Huckins, Zouella Jarman, Rachel Kedinger, Elliot Keeley, Jaydan Moore, Alejandra Salinas, Amy Weiks & Gabriel Craig of Smith Shop, Brian Weissman, Adam Whitney, and Logan Woodle.

Exhibition dates: June 7 – July 12, 2019

A Last Sitting [for a Fisherman] has been selected for the Coast exhibition in An Talla Solais in Ullapool, Scotland. The exhibition has work by 20 artists, which will be shown 10 at a time, the exhibition rotating the works after two weeks.The show runs from 20th July, to 8th September.

A Last Sitting

Land[ed] opens in the Lavit Gallery, Cork for August Craft Month. A series of my vessels and utensils will show alongside Joe Hogan (basketry), Alan Meredith (woodwork), Mourne Textiles (wall hangings), and ceramics from Elaine Riordan and Simon Kidd.

9 wetlands vessel 72dpi

Finally I will be showing vessels, utensils and jewellery at the New Craftsman Gallery in St.Ives for Gathering – an exhibition featuring Forest + Found, Joe Hogan, Annemarie O’Sullivan, Adam Buick and painter Michael Porter.

The exhibition will open on the 13th September, running throughout the St Ives Arts Festival from 14th – 28th September and then will be extended until 12th October.

Make tool set 100dpi

Retracing Nature at Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset.

February 2, 2019

Retracing Nature is a two person show opening on the 8th of February at Make Hauser & Wirth Somerset, I am showing a new series of vessels alongside utensils with  Ceramicist Adam Buick.

12 bound and left vessel 72dpi

“Stuart Cairns is a contemporary metalsmith using the forms of silversmithing objects, of dining and ritual, as places to explore materials and tell stories. The visual language created emerges from his immersion in landscape whether through walking, wild swimming, photography, drawing or gathering. Utilising found objects and materials collected on walks through his local landscape, combined with steel and patinated silver, Cairns creates unique, small forms, intimate in nature, translating elements of this personal journey. With this collection, conceived for Make, Cairns returns to vessel forms, set alongside the shapes of utensils and tools, acting as physical representations of a lived landscape, alive with memory.

33 utensil 15 72dpi

Objects are drawn out of the natural lines of grasslands and wetlands, combining with the marks of skeletal boat hulls, shattered jetties and fragmented fence lines, to summon a sense of the land, of a past and of our place within it. Structures are formed of found objects and precious and base metals, sitting in series and sets, as if in remembrance of a previous function and forgotten personal rituals.

This body of works can be seen as a series of visual poetry. Half sketched, traced with touches of making, these vessels and implements reflect a fleeting experience; of people passing through as the landscape endures.

4 rib vessel 72dpi

This work was made possible through the Support of the Individual Artist Programme by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland.


This Other Place – an installation.

July 10, 2018

On Thursday the 2nd of August as part of Late Night Art and for August Craft Month I will be exhibiting the installation This Other Place in Pollen Studio, 37-39 Queen Street, Fl 1st, BT1 6EA Belfast.

melmore handle 72dpi

 This Other Place is an installation by Artist/Silversmith Stuart Cairns exploring the language of the landscape and  materiality through domestic objects and space. A series of vessels and utensil type objects set in and around structures which echo both the natural landscape and the setting of the home. The installation uses precious, non precious metals, found objects and natural materials in combination to evoke a sense of being lived within the landscape. 

The exhibition is open Thursday to Saturday 12.30-4pm and finishes on sat the 18th of August, hope you can make it.

this other place objects 72dpi

Recent landscapes

May 22, 2018




Recently I’ve added new marks to my drawing/painting practice, really though reflection of what I was seeing while walking and what had been developing in the drawn landscapes. Looking at the drawings and looking at recent photographs, especially ones taken on recent trips to Donegal, I noticed the connection between swathes of grass, fence lines and fallen structures, paths and boundaries and areas of demarcation. These elements form interactions between human activity and the landscape, traces of the past presence of people.


So developing the work further I’m looking to emphasise these lines and add in more fluid shapes trying to capture the feel of some of these places and photographs. The intent then is to draw these structures into the objects and sculptural installations I’m working on in the making side of my artistic practice. Hopefully more physical forms will start appearing soon as I have a number of exhibitions coming up in the summer and beyond. More on those later..

Landscape drawings are available to buy here…

SOFEIR conference.

April 3, 2018


Last week I attended the SOFEIR conference in Dijon, hosted by the University of Burgundy as an invited artist. It was my first attendance at an academic conference, its theme was “From Irish Land to Irish Soil: Materiality and Metaphors” approaching it from the context of  literature, fine art and the broader culture. The variety of papers and approaches was very engaging, it was interesting to hear echoes of my own approach to landscape coming through the discussions of work by writers, poets and performance artists.


Some highlights include the paper on the works of fellow Ulsterman, the poet Derek Mahon, “Remember Life on Earth” by Maryvonne Boisseau and Marion Naugrette-Fournier. This highlighted the poets relationship with the landscape and growing ecological concerns and tied in the work of marine biologist Rachel Carson. Needless to say I’m currently reading both! Eamon Maher’s passionate discussion of the two Irish writers John McGahern and Dermot Healy discussed the importance of place, of connectivity to the land, its associated histories and lived memories as environment within which to tell stories of human relationships and struggle. The ideas of New Materialists referenced through the works of Dorothy Cross, Nigel Rolfe and the dance group Junk Ensemble was discussed by Lisa Fitzgerald. Here it was the physical interaction with the landscape through film, performance or dance where the landscape became a medium in itself to explore narratives of human experience. A special highlight was Dorothy Cashman bringing to life rural Ireland from the accounts book of a Franciscan friary in 1798. Using the accounts to paint a picture of the interactions of the friars within the rural community Dorothy described vividly the vibrant relationships within that setting.


Dorothy Cashman presenting at SOFEIR

For my own talk it was actually very useful to have to do an overview of my practice, how it began and how it has progressed, in addition to trying to frame it in a way that might interest a room full of academics! Looking through and analysing my practice and how it has progressed showed an almost spiralling progression, returning to the same core themes, with refinement, with layers of investigation and evolution. From foundation studies and encountering the work of Andy Goldsworthy, being handed the book “Derek Jarman’s Garden”  by an astute tutor and looking at the forms created by weavers like Lizzy Farey and Joe Hogan grounded my interest in exploring and recording the landscape through materials and objects. This sculptural sensibility set within an object based discipline of silversmithing pushes against each other, the tension between the two to express large ideas in small contained forms  driving the work.



Working visually you don’t always have the words to articulate what are exploring/expressing within your practice so reading The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd with its introduction by Robert MacFarlane as I travel over pinpointed a few ideas that I had been holding. The idea that being in a place is bodily knowledge, a physical sensation which shapes us, not just the conscious intellectual knowledge. The papers in the conference added further to this perspective on my work. It is about, not just the landscape, but the experience of being within it, of being  part of it not separate. The walking, the collecting and even the swimming is about immersion, of feeling fully connected as part of the ecosystem relating to the tides, the seasons and the swoop of seagull equally. This is what I explore through the richness of materiality planted within the forms of domestic objects of silversmithing to reference the daily experience of being human. All in all the conference gave me a deeper appreciation of my practice, something I think I’ll write about in another blog post [this was threatening to get very wordy!], as well as the opportunity to meet some wonderful, warm and interesting people. New steps ahead…



Winter walks, observations and finds.

December 12, 2017

Winter is my favourite time of the year with the landscape set out so raw, gently sleeping under the snow and the light so fresh and bright. I have had a few walks in between working at the studio soaking up the stark lines and contrasting tones in the bright winter daylight. The woods and the shore, still and slumbering, fire my imagination with hints of their deep dreaming.

Shoreline walks and observations. 

October 7, 2017

Autumn has arrived and the mood of the landscape changes back and forth daily (or hourly !). I started October with a seaswim, an immersive and bracing experience in the environment! My regular walks appear on my Instagram feed but here are a few moments from recent walks. Wether I am collecting objects, rubbish or just inhaling the atmosphere of the day the landscape walks ground my art practice in all its forms. Consciously or unconsciously I always draw upon these experiences, sights and feelings as well as gaining the headspace to think abstractly around themes and ideas. The light and colours of autumn certainly have a sense of otherness to my thinking.. wonderful time of year.