Artist of the Week: Jessie Astill

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This week Brighton Journal spoke to Jessie Astill, a local mixed media artist and founder of Beau Bottletops. Jessie’s bespoke bottle top designs use recycled materials to create unique jewellery and framed pieces. Through her passion for upcycling, her work finds the beauty in objects that may otherwise end up in landfill. We discussed Jessie’s personalised commissions, how her work has become a therapeutic outlet, and her current projects. Take a look.


What are you doing today?

Today I am working on a new piece “Less bitter more glitter” with so many events around the world being postponed or cancelled, including Brighton Pride, I though I’d work on something to reveal on what would have been Pride weekend in Brighton! 

Describe where you do most of your creative work.

Most of my work takes place in my little workshop within my home in Brighton. I am very fortunate to have a small room dedicated to my bottle cap creations! I have a work station and drying desk, storage space and many many containers full of recycled materials! It’s usually organised chaos (that’s how I work best), but every couple of weeks I give it a bit of spring clean. 


What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?

The largest piece I make has 144 bottle caps mounted in a box frame. Each bottle cap is individually filled with pieces of recycled materials and teeny beads/jewellery/anything that fits! Then filled with resin. I make these pieces with specific themes, but they can also be personalised with photographs and dates, so I would have to say the most exciting piece I have worked on is a 144 bottle cap piece personalised for a customer to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. (Having said that I love working on every single personalised commission, each customer puts so much thought in to how they want to make their piece bespoke).

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What made you decide to become an artist?

I didn’t, in fact I made a conscious decision not to follow that path after finishing college, I was always torn between an art and psychology degree, and after much heartache and deliberation I decided to go with psychology, whilst I was fascinated with the mind and how we work as humans, the idea of better job prospects definitely paved the way for that decision. Becoming an artist came a little later on after pushing it aside to complete my degree, as an outlet, a form of therapy and expression. When I graduated I found myself in social work and I needed an artistic release! A few years down the line I decided to make a concerted effort to make art a bigger part of my life because that’s what made me truly happy, I left social work, finding a fantastic job with a local charity 4 days a week, and I began to focus on my artwork a lot more, now I sell my pieces and run craft fairs the other 3 days of the week!   

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on a few personalised commissions, thank you gifts, birthday gifts, anniversary gifts. I make smaller pieces such as magnets, key rings, necklaces and brooches, so I am also working on building my stock of these.


What are the key themes in your work?

My artwork is made using mostly recycled materials, so each piece is totally unique, I like to incorporate positive messages within my pieces, messages that bring hope and light into people’s lives. I like using quotes that people can relate to, quotes that once read, bring a smile to everyone’s face. 

What would you like people to notice about your work?

The detail. Each bottle cap is individually filled with precision and care, using recycled materials and teeny tiny charms each bottle cap is then filled and set with resin, a miniature piece of art in its own right! 


What attracts you to the medium you work in?

I have always been conscious of my carbon footprint in everyday life, finding a way of doing something I love and reducing waste at the same time seemed to be the basis of my artistic work, I know that each piece is a dozen less bottle caps in our landfills or on our beaches and in our parks. 

What equipment could you not do without?

Craft tweezers! Each bottle cap is approximately 25mm – teeny! My craft tweezers allow me to place the smallest of charms, gems, broken jewellery, letters etc, with precision and care, I would be lost without them! 


Who or what inspires you?

My inspirations comes from many different places, the sea, the current political climate, the news, the list goes on. More recently positive mental health inspires me, and the importance of it. I’ve learnt, how important it is to be surrounded by positive and hopeful images, sharing my work and receiving feedback on how light and hopeful it makes people feel is a continuous inspiration. I’ve learn about the power of art and how it translates to others, I lost my father last year to suicide, and my art is my therapy, I want to use it to help people through my choice of quotes and intricate details, I want people to feel at ease when they see my work, I stay inspired but knowing that what people see, makes them smile. 

How is your work affected by living in this area?

Being in a city with over 500 pubs, clubs and bars proves to be very helpful when it comes to collecting used bottlecaps! 


What’s your favourite thing to do locally?

Go to any cafe on any street and have a coffee with a friend! 

What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?

Barcelona, the architecture blows me away! 


If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?

Grayson Perry, he is my ultimate all time favourite artists! I love and believe in everything he stands for, the ideas and intricacies in his work are never ending. He is captivating! 

What’s your favourite colour?

(Any artists would not thank me for saying this for one main reason – it’s a shade!) but I have to stay true to myself, grey!


To find out more about Jess and Beau Bottletops, take a look at her website and Instagram.

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