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Ruth Mary crafts beguiling, unorthodox jewellery

In Artist of the Week, we celebrate faith-driven artists making work for universal audiences.

Though a part of Sputnik for many years, we still felt honoured to have Birmingham-based jewellery-maker Ruth Mary running a ‘small business’ workshop at Catalyst Festival this summer. When it comes to making a living in the creative industries, Ruth has wisdom to spare; her home-run jewellery company was featured in the Guardian’s top 100 small businesses last year, and she was invited to speak at the Women in Business Expo 2017 at Birmingham Council House.

More to the point though, Ruth’s work is stunning: a genuinely unorthodox form of jewellery that is the result of her self-taught expertise as both a silversmith and lace maker. Ruth’s design concepts are hand-stitched in thread, then recreated in precious metal: the end result is both beguiling, and evidently popular!

Ruth Mary Jewellery Sputnik Paisley Necklace Gold
Paisley Handmade Silver Lace Necklace, by Ruth Mary Jewellery

We also hugely appreciate Ruth’s openness about her route into the industry: she trained originally as a chemist, but a bout of serious illness prompted a change in direction. No doubt it’s Ruth’s faith, in part, that enables her to be open with her story, where the pressure on the self-employed can be to present everything in the most positive light possible. It’s beautiful to see God work in her life this way, but Ruth’s work is worth celebrating regardless: a talented and unique craftsperson making waves in her industry.

You can see more of Ruth’s work, and order her jewellery, at her website.

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A Sputnik Review of 2017

The end of year, for me, is a vital boundary marker that enables reflection on what’s gone before, and planning for what’s to come. As 2017 comes to a close, it’s a delight to look back on a year of creative productivity and inspiration from in and around the Sputnik network.

Fine Art

It’s been a relatively quiet year regarding fine art generally, but that has been more than made up for by the endeavours of Ally Gordon, who seems to be quietly taking over the world. With exhibitions in London, LA and New York under his belt this year, as well as the release of his book, God Art, about the place of belief in contemporary art, Ally continues to be a massive blessing and inspiration and we’re so stoked to have him at the Catalyst Festival in 2018.


In the world of fashion, Daniel Blake and Ruth Chipperfield have been making some serious moves at the very heart of UK society. Ruth is part of Jubilee Church, Coventry and her strong Twitter game has allowed us to witness the steady and impressive development of Ruth Mary Jewellery over the last 12 months. Having been highlighted as one of the top 100 UK small businesses by the Small Business Saturday Team, she got an invite to 10 Downing St for a celebratory event in late November. The PM was not present, but as things have gone, it’s not impossible that she was having a fitting for City Hope Church leader, Daniel Poulson AKA fashion designer Daniel Blake! Since 2016’s trousergate palaver, Daniel has become Mrs May’s designer of choice. This has led to him being featured in Vogue and an interview in the Telegraph before he unleashed his Autumn/Winter collection on the world in November.


In film, Pip Piper, from Oasis Church, Birmingham, resurrected his media and film company One Small Barking Dog this year and OSBD closed out the year by releasing a series of short films for the global NINE BEATS Collective, exploring the Beatitudes and looking to connect people who wouldn’t naturally be picking up a Bible with Jesus’ timeless wisdom.


As regards writing, Huw Evans, from City Church Newcastle generously opened his vault to us this year and in case that was too much treasure for many of us to get our heads round, he has begun work on his first poetry collection, which is already cued up as one of next year’s highlights. Speaking of poetry, Jennifer Rawson from Kings Church Edinburgh spent the year tantalising us with the odd poem on her blog until delivering good and proper with THAT Christmas video (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to catch up!)


However, the most prolific discipline in SputnikLand in 2017 has been music. This year saw a flurry of debut EPs from Strange Ghost, The Blood Magnetic and Kapes, all from Brum, and also two fantastic singles from Dutchkid whose members hail from Kings Arms, Bedford and New Community Church, Sidcup. Sputnik ally, Mr Ekow, was shortlisted for the pioneering new music competition Salute Music and Mike Lawetto, from Christ Church Manchester, has been a regular on Alex Baker’s Kerrang show for most of the year, having released at least 3 singles (I’m sorry Mike, I lose count). Two of my favourite albums of the year have also been from Sputnik friends. Midsummer’s ‘Stories You Tell’ and David Benjamin Blower’s ‘The Book of Jonah’ were both on regular rotation in the Mellor household, and Dave’s performance at the Brum Sputnik hub in November has to go down as one of my favourite ever Sputnik moments. Spell binding.

A special mention must also go to Oasis Church’s Andy Gordon, who has set up shop in the new Sputnik recording studio and has been serving Birmingham based musicians through Oasis’ fantastic Impact Residency Programme. His production skills just keep getting sharper and sharper and his prodigious production output in 2017 is only going to increase next year.

So, why do I share all of this? Three main reasons.

Firstly, if you’ve missed out on any of these guys this year, I want to give you the chance to get in on the action. I hugely believe in what all of these artists are doing and it’s been a great privilege to be directly blessed by many of their work.

Secondly, at Sputnik we are passionate about seeing artists who are faithful to Jesus and committed to their local churches making the best art that they can. Surveying just the work in or around our network should give us great hope that God is stirring something new and exciting in the arts. I think we should see Ruth and Daniel’s escapades in the corridors of power as a prophetic taster of the doorways that God is wanting to open for us as we remain faithful to him in following through our creative giftings wisely.

And finally, I am sharing this so that you can pray for all of these guys and girls. Christians pray for church leaders. We pray for evangelists. We pray for missionaries. We need to pray for artists. Pray that they would stand firm in their faith. Pray for continued integrity and wisdom. Pray for a deeper love for Jesus for all of them. And pray for continued excellence in their practice.

That just leaves one last question- What are you going to create in 2018?

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Ruth Chipperfield at Women In Business Expo 2017

Ruth Mary Jewellery Sputnik Faith Art

In June, Ruth Chipperfield, an active member of Sputnik since about 2012, was one of the speakers at the ‘Women in Business Expo 2017’ at Birmingham Council House. One of the event’s goals was to showcase successful women-led businesses, and so as part of the fashion show, Ruth took to the catwalk to tell her remarkable story, talk about her work and profile her business Ruth Mary Jewellery.

We thought you may like to see how she did, and with just one click and in a mere 7 minutes, you can find out…

Great work Ruth. Looking forward to those D&G style crowns coming to the Sputnik shop some time soon 😉

To keep up to date with Ruth Mary Jewellery, twitter and facebook will help, and for a more thorough introduction to her work, her website’s got what you need.

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Catalyst Workplace Day: Game changer

Most of us have a strange relationship with paid work. On the surface, most people like to tell you how much they hate their jobs, but dig a little deeper and you usually find that work is normally where people base their sense of meaning and develop many of their most precious life skills. Recently, our conflicting attitudes to work have been drawn out by the clamour of futurists, predicting the rise of machines in the workplace doing us all out of a job.

The popular responses to these predictions seem to have gone in two directions- Yay! Freedom from work. We can choose how to flourish and spontaneously help the communities around us. But wait a minute… will I actually be able to motivate myself to spend my time constructively? Won’t it just lead us to retreat into meaningless cul de sacs of entertainment (that by then will probably revolve around VR machines that we never need to unplug from)?

And there we have the conflict: work is a drag, but perhaps it is necessary for us to flourish as human beings. Or to put it more biblically, work was given to us as a source of dignity and joy, but through our sin, it has been cursed, and now becomes beset by futility, frustration and stress (Genesis 3:17-19)

Therefore, it was a great pleasure to spend the day on Saturday with a load of other eager drones, thinking carefully through the place that work should have in our lives and how as Christians we should go about our jobs. It was the first ever Catalyst4TheWorkplace Day and it was very worthwhile. More specifically, Sputnik had the pleasure of running the stream for arts professionals, and that too seemed to go well, and I thought I’d share a bit of a report, and some observations from the day.

For me, a day like this was always going to be about people. It was great to be able to spend some time with old friends and make some new ones too and sticking such an awesome bunch in one room and seeing what happened was always going to be fun. In all the presentations and discussions, three things struck me that particularly remained with me afterwards:

‘I decided to approach this properly as a career’

Mike French, writer of An Android Awakes, said this when describing his journey towards becoming a published author. God had told him (in the bath if I remember rightly) to go down this career route, and he wasn’t just going to rely on his imagination and natural flair for writing. Basically he signed up for a course with a literary consultancy and immersed himself as much as he could in the literary scene. This may all seem pretty non-exceptional, but I think it is so helpful to hear simple stories like this. A common experience of Christian artists is that others in their churches don’t take their art seriously, however I wonder if actually a lot of the time Christian creatives don’t themselves take their art seriously. If someone feels ‘called’ to become a lawyer, they do a law degree, if they feel God tell them to become a chef, they go to cookery school, however I’ve met loads of Christians who feel that God has called them to be an artist in one field or another and simply assume that that is the end of the story- all they need to do is be creative and their work will change the world. Now often it has to be said, there is no obvious career preparation track available (how do you become a songwriter, for example?), but often the lack of proactivity that follows from such an assertion of artistic calling is simply down to not approaching ‘this properly as a career’. Do you feel God is calling you to be an artist? Approach your art properly as a career. Do you think God may be calling you to be an artist but you’re not sure? Approach it properly as a career- start training/do an internship/apply for that course and see if things click.

‘We like work that is exciting and at times we also like work that is paid’

This quote was from film maker Joel Wilson and it spurred off an interesting discussion about the even more interesting relationship between artists and money. It was fascinating hearing all of the artists on our panel as they talked through their stories. Each one seemed to divide their work in a  similar way- some work that pays the bills, other work that is less financially rewarding but perhaps more in line with what makes them come alive as artists. Daniel Blake subsidising his fashion labels by teaching at the London school of fashion. Phil and Harri Mardlin doing corporate gigs to fund projects like StageWrite, Bedford’s main annual new writing festival. Chris Donald juggling graphic design jobs with running the Minor Artists record label and production company. It would be fair to say that a theme developed as the afternoon passed.

I’d imagine that this will come as no surprise to any of you who have ever pursued your artistic gifting professionally, but if you are looking into exploring this possibility, it is well worth taking note of this reality. In the arts, as well as in other occupations, what is exciting and what we get paid for don’t always line up perfectly. Understanding this from the outset could save a lot of trouble down the line if you are serious about exploring whether your art form may be able to pay the bills at some point.


As we were worshiping all together in the first session of the day, Daniel Blake took the mic and told us how he’d seen a billboard outside the window with #gamechanger written repeatedly on it. He felt that God wanted to bring this to our attention as the day was going to be a game changer for people in how they see their work. This resonated with me immediately and I leapt up to add that I thought that this could be seen even more broadly as a game changer for how we, as a family of churches, even see church itself and how we serve people in their jobs.

As I talked to artists and listened to their stories in the afternoon, I felt struck by the possibility that there was a third game to be changed. In Sputnik, we’ve spent the last four years discussing the big conceptual questions and encouraging artists and non-artists in our churches to see the importance of the arts and work that through in church life. On Saturday, I suddenly realised that the conversation had moved on. Now, we weren’t talking about up in their air ideas and vague notions of validation and affirmation. We were down to brass tacks. We were talking about how we can get paid from this stuff. How we can self subsidise ourselves in our art. We ended the day taking this even further to the question of patronage and whether the church can play an important financial role in this by taking on a role of patronage of individual artists and the arts in general.

I’m looking forward to God changing the game for Sputnik and working more meaningfully with professionals as well as amateurs, helping talented artists learn how to make a living and even perhaps becoming more of a vehicle to enable the church to take up once again its historical role as an important patron of the arts.

That’s a game I look forward to playing and if that resonates with you I’d love to hear if you’d like to play it with us.

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Daniel Blake: How can Christian arts professionals do their work for Jesus?

I’m really looking forward to meeting Daniel Blake at our Catalyst4theworkplace day. Daniel is a fashion designer with a couple of fashion labels under his belt as well as some pretty tasty freelance credits and a teaching role at the London college of fashion. In short, he’s the real deal! We’re delighted that he’s agreed to come and share his expertise and make himself available to help you guys who are working in the arts on 8th October.

But why wait til then?

This video is a great introduction and encouragement on its own. The whole thing is worth watching but Daniel’s bit about working in the fashion industry as a Christian is particularly helpful for any of you guys working professionally in the arts who really want to shine brightly for Jesus in your work. It’s only a minute as well.