Sailors’ Valentines, originating in the 1800s, were said to have been made by sailors as love tokens for their sweethearts at home. Intricate patterns of shells encased in frames were also produced in Bridgetown, Barbados and exported to satisfy the Victorian urge for collecting. Designs traditionally consisted of two octagon shaped hinged cases - a “double valentine”. The shell mosaic designs incorporate intricate patterns, featuring a centrepiece that is often a compass or heart design, hence the name.
Inspired by those hanging in Alexandra Tolstoy’s home, artist Sarah-Jane Axelby wanted to recreate these charming objects in mixed media. ‘They are a joy to design and paint’, says S-J.