You are still standing up for jewellery design as a course leader. Why is it relevant to use jewellery techniques to make art?
Strangely I went to jewellery because I wanted to work with metal, and I haven’t since then. I have come from a background of jewellery design, so the approach is fairly fine, detailed and I am aware of the sense of touch. One of the reasons that made me decide between jewellery and textiles at the time, was that jewellery can stand for so many different things, and it seemed like a very active object as well.
Do you see a difference between being a jewellery designer and a jewellery artist? Or aren’t there any, and it just depends on the work you produce and who sells it?
No, I think when the definition becomes over important, there is a need for more words and then they don’t always serve a purpose. You can be either or neither. Loosely and stereotypically, a designer tends to be one who can design first on paper; for function or commerce, and an artist is one who is pursuing an idea, taking a position, expressing something more than making a product. But this is something interchangeable and there are probably very few who fit solely into these descriptions. You can call yourself a jewellery designer one year and the next year something else, because actually you change and develop ideas over time.
Do you think a piece of jewellery is enough on its own, or does it need a context for its understanding?
This is dependent. Sometimes you just want a lovely piece of jewellery to wear, or to give, and there is nothing wrong with that. If we are talking about a complex idea made tangible through materials, there are a number of scenarios. If we are talking about pieces of jewellery, then the material object might have enough impact or intrigue to draw the intentions and complexities behind the piece; it will serve to further engage.
I think what happens when there is a piece that does not immediately engage, but its context is made clear, is that a dialogue is then created. People tend to talk about it and pass on their attitudes and reactions. That is a successful way of working. If a piece relies totally on the understanding of a context, then that to me is not an effective way of operating. To sustain the field of jewellery as a vibrant area, it is healthy to have a dialogue, conflicting views, several different approaches, investigations into current ideas and appraisals of traditional ones.