Tag Archives: NSCAD U

Square One

Materials and Process – Passions of a Goldsmith – that was the title of my graduating exhibition at NSCAD University’s Anna Leonowens Gallery in 2004.  So long ago! Good early perception, though: I already knew that my passion for the materials and processes of this amazing trade of gold/silver/copper/metal-smithing is what drives me.

My heart and soul went into my NSCAD U graduating exhibition

My heart and soul went into my NSCAD U graduating exhibition

That exhibition marked the end of a tremendously important time in my life.  It was hard to figure out the logistics to keep going following graduation, two kids in elementary school and suddenly no studio. But my passion kept driving me further. I set up a studio in the Arts Annex of the Seaport Market and kept working towards another solo exhibition two years later, this time at the Mary E. Black Gallery. It was a time of tremendous outpouring. I think I will post some photos from those shows, one of these days.

Tonight though, I happened to stumble across a poem which I wrote somewhere around that time. It’s a little intense – I hope you don’t mind my sharing it here. Even to myself when reading it again after quite some time, it illustrates what’s ‘behind it all’, this passion for a dialogue with the metal which drives me, and which – incidentally – is also what makes me happy. How lucky is that?

Gotta look for some of those still ‘listening’ moments in the next bit, I think.  I am so glad I found this. Brings me right back to square one. Best place to be, hands down.


 

And such is my passion for making

that the search for the right form to
emerge from the material before me

And such is my passion for making

that this search pains me in the
innermost center of my soul – the same place love hurts –

And such is my passion for making

that when I see a form which is perfect for
its moment in time and space
(some call this ‘good design’)
that such a perfect form brings the sun to my face.
I weep with joy over such good fortune.

And such is my passion for making

that I wither when I stop
that I dream it day and night
completely unshakable.

And such is my passion for making

that I drink its textures its sounds its weight its dirt
I drink them like nectar
like frozen Bombay Sapphire
never enough.

Such is my passion for making

that it hurts.

When I realized this
I became terrified.

Now I stand in awe
before the materials which are
pregnant with stories, laden with hidden forms.

I want to draw them out
I wish to help them emerge
I desire to see them.

I concentrate, still,
examining each step carefully
Listening intently.

Dorothée Rosen, 2006

At my bench in 2007. Photo by Paige Littlefair

At my bench in 2007. Photo by Paige Littlefair

 

London – the adornment

I had such a very busy 2014 – that ‘year of the horse’ sure went at a gallop! So it was with great pleasure that 2015 greeted me with the opportunity to create some brand new, one-of-a-kind work.

I had applied to participate in an industry-only special exhibition opportunity, called “[email protected]“. It is part of ACTS – the Atlantic Craft Trade Show. This is a wonderful Halifax tradition, where gallery owners shop for their hand-crafted Maritime items, directly from the makers. The show also beings in, every year, gallery owners from across North America – a great opportunity for local makers! I have written about my participation in the wholesale side of that wonderful annual event before.

This time, I decided to apply to be featured as a one-of-a-kind artist in their special highlight section, the [email protected]. I knew that it would bring a great challenge to me: to create brand new one-of-a-kind pieces.  Still only getting on my own financial feet after my divorce, I had really been too preoccupied just to find audiences of my existing work, to have had the time to be truly creative for new work. I often tried, but as I would say to my friends “design cannot happen in a hurry!”  I needed time and space to devote to the creative process, in order to open the door for real fresh ideas to develop.

My participation in [email protected] gave me the perfect excuse. I had no choice but to lock myself into my studio, turn computer and phone off, and go at it. I did this the minute I returned from Europe.  And I ended up spending a lot of time in that studio … some days even through the whole day and night, finally hitting my pillow at 5am, only to rise again by 8am to keep going. In fact, this wasn’t dissimilar to being back at NSCAD University, pulling a couple of all-nighters before a mid-term!

The funny thing is: I loved it! I had such a wonderful time feeling my creativity begin to flow again much more freely…. this must be what a runner feels like after a hiatus due to injury or something.  Maybe an athlete after a hiatus due to pregnancy? Because building my business has been a very satisfying and fruitful process, in itself. I do not want to equate it with an injury!

In any case, today I want to introduce you to the first of five pieces that were ultimately the result of this creative pursuit of excellence.  Let me know what you think!

As I am always interested in the study of line, I began there. But what emerged, without me really understanding how or why, was a series of necklaces, based on cities:  four European, and one colonial.

This is “London, England”:

 

"London, England". Sterling Silver, Chalcedony of various colours

“London, England” (detail) . Sterling Silver, Chalcedony of various colours (photo by Christina Arsenault)

I think this piece may be inspired by my studies of craft history, which involved Glasgow Art Nouveau artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (June 7 1868 – December 10 1928), whose work I greatly admired. Especially his chairs, the London tea room, and his stained glass work remain vividly in my memory as lighting up darkened lecture hall screens, making such great sense to me.

I only vaguely remember how his work made me feel, and decided to name this piece ‘London’ based on those feelings, and based on my feelings of spending time in that great city with its logical subway maps and highlighted cultural gems. We could have a long conversation about this!

As for Charles Rennie, I have not yet looked him up again … but you can, if you follow the above link! Tell me if I was right to think his influence was there when I created this piece!

The whole necklace, including each hand-made link

The whole necklace, including each hand-made link  (photo by Christina Arsenault – thanks, Christina!)

 

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