Tug of War & DAFF Beginnings

My friend Savinder Bual and I just came back from a rather refreshing lunch break. This feeling of being touched by a breath of fresh air does not only come from the beautiful sunshine kissing Shanghai today but also from its people. Walking the streets of the city showed that the winter melancholia has been put aside and was replaced by a big welcoming party for the summer. 🙂

The highlight of our little tour was a big group of people playing ‘tug-of-war’ next to Shanghai’s smallest Starbucks coffee shop (maybe even the world’s smallest Starbucks coffee shop?) down Nan Jing Lu.

I am not sure how this group came together. I guess it might have been employees from the big restaurants around having fun, but the energy of the people could be felt in the air and for the first time, in a very long time, it made me feel content and happy being in the city. It made me smile …and it still does… making it easier for me to get back to the studio now and keep working on more pieces for the upcoming DAFF fair in Shanghai on the 5th of May. If you are around, please come, have a look and support ProonK! There will be a lot of fancy jewellery to see, as well as freshly printed T-Shirts and for one very lucky person, there is a prize to win from our special ProonK prize-draw for the day.

The guy with the megaphone was awesome… cheering all the time and making sure that everything was ‘in order’. Have a look at the guys bending over on the right. Each side had about 15 people pulling, it was really intense!

Is this the world’s smallest Starbucks? It makes me wonder every time I pass. The ‘shop’ itself is fitted inside a huge pillar holding the roof of the entrance area of the Portman Ritz Carlton hotel. One side of the pillar holds the register desk, the other one is the one where the coffee is brewed. There is a lovely outside seating area to sit and enjoy.

ProonK pieces in progress…

DAFF on the 5th of May at the Bund in Shanghai. Come along! …more info soon.

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‘Dating Medal’ for ‘Con Decorados’

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to make a piece for an exhibition in Valencia, Spain called ‘Con-Decorados’. The exhibition will be part of a row of shows accompanying the second opening of the ‘Schmuck‘ show from Munich in Valencia. It will be held at the ‘Museo Nacional de Ceramica y de las Artes Suntuarias Gonzalez Marti‘, as part of the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Jewellery Department at the ‘Escola d’Art i Superior de Disseny de València’ EASD. To mark this anniversary, the school has organised a programme of activities, exhibitions and talks on contemporary jewellery and called the event  ‘MELTING POINT 2012’. ‘Con-Decorados’ will open on the 5th of May at 6pm. To visit the blog accompanying the activities, click here.

The topic of ‘Con-Decorados’ turns around the subject of medals. 23 artists were asked to work with and around the idea of interpreting and creating a medal.

The artists who will participate in this exhibition are:

Peter Bauhuis
Mirei Takeuchi
Sung-Ho Cho
Volker Atrops
Jorge Manilla
Christine Graf
Lisa Juen
Alexander Friedrich
Tabea Reulecke
Rodrigo Acosta
Marie Pendaries
Carlos Pastor
Kepa Karmona
Sarah O´Hana
Kerstin Östberg
Elvira H.Mateu
Edu Tarín
Ramón Puig
Silvia Walz
Grego Garcia
Mauricio Lavayén
Gemma Draper
Mariona Piris
My idea for my medal came from personal experience. I wanted to create a medal that is a witness of our time, a medal that can be worn and used for a purpose of today.
Until I met my partner, I was a single woman in Shanghai for a very long time and I had to learn the hard way that dating can be really hard work that should be awarded a medal! So… here it is, the ‘Dating Medal’.
…and a short explanation:

Modern society does not make it easy to meet one’s ‘better half’. The Internet, Hollywood and the fast pace of a steadily growing throw-away-culture heightens the bars of expectation when it comes to choosing the right partner.

How can one meet this person without having to bend over backwards?

Dating in the mentioned conditions can be really hard work, especially for girls. The ‘Dating Medal’ is to be a helping device for women dating but is also act as a dating award.

The brooch holds two LED screens: one in green and one in red.

The screens are connected to an ON/ON switch, which enables the wearer to decide which of the two screens is going to light up.

In the case of the lady meeting an individual of interest, the green screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Did the sun come out or did you just smile at me?’ 

The sentence can act as an ‘ice-breaker’ leading into a conversation. In the case of the initial chat being a success, the gentleman can take the lady’s contact details written on small paper-strips hanging from the series of brooch-hooks. If he would like to leave his details, he can choose to take one of the plain paper-strips and write down his contact information with the attached pencil. By hanging the written strip back on the hook ‘rewards’ the girl with the possibility of a future date.

In the case of the lady not feeling attracted to an approaching individual, the red screen can be lit reading:

 ‘Save your breath.’

In this case, a lot of drama and heartbreak can be prevented right from the start.

Not just my dating experience was a little rocky but the way of making the brooch was pretty painful too. Just when I was about to finish the brooch, a piece of the bearing broke off. Since the metal part is entirely cut and bent from one piece of stainless steel sheet, I had to remake the entire brooch.

Here are some pictures I took along the way that show the process of making.

Polishing. Even after almost 10 years of making professional jewellery, the contrast of dirty hands and shiny metal still amazes me! It feels great looking like a pig but holding this precious little something in one’s hands!

Before bending.

Wiring.

I hope you like the ‘Dating Medal’ and the journey of its making. If you should be in Valencia around the 5th of May, please feel free to join the exhibition opening. The show will be on until the end of June.

If you can find a chance to go, please take a picture of the piece and send it to me! I would love to see it on display! Enjoy the show!

body architecture, rockstars and jewellery art

The day started off on a super exciting foot! Thanks to my good friend Rachel Marsden I was introduced to the work of Lucy McRae, a body architect living in Amsterdam. I just LOVE the fact that she calls herself a BODY ARCHITECT! How awesome is that? Being a jewellery artist, this makes my hair stand on edge! 😉

Rachel forwarded me a link to a TED-talk showing Lucy explaining her work. (click here for the link) She says that she worked for Philips Electronics in the Far Future Design Research Lab… again, how freaking awesome does just the name of this lab sound? I would love to go and see it big time…

In her work, she explores the human body and how she can transform it, which she does in all sorts of different directions. She developed an electronic tattoo that can be augmented by touch, a pill that can be swallowed to transform one’s perspiration into perfume-sweat, she had a look into trying to redefine the skin and created a dynamic textile that was then featured in one of Swedish rockstar Robyn‘s music videos…. The list of her experiments and projects seems endless…

She says she is fascinated by the way biology and technology can be merged and change the future life of people. I love the fact that so many different aspects and directions are merged in her pieces. Not just biology and technology meet but also art, design, architecture, fashion and of course jewellery. I find it very fascinating to see how she blurs the barriers of predefined knowledge, perception and aesthetic understanding.

Pushing barriers and challenge perception: ‘What can be done, what can’t and most of all why shouldn’t it be done?’ are questions that constantly need to be pushed and further explored. The answers might be cheeky and maybe sometimes even over the top but isn’t this the spice in the soup of any artistic practice that should not be missed?

Seeing her work makes me reflect on my own artistic practice again and how much deeper I can go with it. I love to push boundaries as well in my work. My ‘Pussy Brooch‘ that I made for rockstar Peaches still evokes tons of reactions just because of the way it is worn on the body. The piece ‘Yin+-Yin’ that I made for the upcoming exhibition ‘Mirror Mirror’ in Cagnes-sur-Mer in June will surely evoke some sort of reaction again… I am very much looking forward to that… As soon as the exhibition is officially opened, I will write more about ‘Yin+-Yin’.

Needless to say that I would love to meet and work with Lucy McRae at some point, since her Body Architecture practice connects perfectly with art jewellery and there is so much that could be developed and explored… I can see myself taking off to the realm of pink clouds…

But now it’s time to come down and back to reality. I have a long studio day ahead of me, remaking work that was meant to be finished 2 weeks ago… partially thanks to my Ayi (Chinese cleaning lady) who threw a box of finished jewellery in the bin…

Wave Structures & LoudLives

The birthday of a very close friend of mine is coming up and for that reason I decided to make her something special.

The current series of work that has been on and off going in my mind for the last year plus, is called ‘LoudLives‘. It all started off with a trigger project that spun around the exhibition outlines of the JAMES show, which was held in Munich at the same time as the Schmuck fair for four years until 2011. For the show ‘The JAMES Days‘, each artist created work based on daily life pictures that were sent to each other.

After I had made the pieces for JAMES, the essence of the concept stuck with me. I was intrigued by using imagery instead of my comfort-zone starting-point: words & headlines. Over the last couple of months, it became more and more clear to me that the real thing that intrigues me in the topic is its closeness to people. So far, most of my work has been based on facts, things that I see in my environment and I make my comments on them/digest them in my work. But now, it seems like I am looking for something that goes a little deeper, underneath the skin. It can be more personal but doesn’t have to be. It can be seen from my point of view but can be seen entirely different. I am intrigued to find which kind of response I will get on a piece, knowing my personal feelings about something/someone and other people being able to recognise their own experiences in it.

Anyway, I decided to get into this direction by making a small piece about my friend. There are several characteristics about her that I would like to show in the piece. She is a very deep character, she thinks a lot, is a little insecure but incredibly strong at the same time. She constantly keeps challenging herself, which is admirable but can sometimes get to a point close to self-destruction. Strength and vulnerability walk together on a very thin line.

Depth, pain, pride and blue are the first words that pop into my head when I think of her.

The main element of the piece will be inspired by the ocean, waves in particular. I started to make some research on waves and stumbled over this really beautiful website by Hawaii based photographer Clark Little. The pictures are amazing! It makes my wish to go and travel to Hawaii even bigger! Shanghai, why can’t you have waves and beaches??? Look at the structures of the waves! Aren’t they beautiful?

A year ago, shortly after the ‘The JAMES Days‘ exhibition, I made the first piece that is going in the direction of the ‘LoudLives’: ‘Flower Lady’

It is based on an old woman who sells flowers on the streets of Shanghai. She has been lurking in the corners of my mind for quite a while now and still is. She really triggered some sort of emotional quest that I am still trying to discover and find answers for.

As mentioned before, I want the ‘LoudLives‘ series to be about people. People who are close to me but also people seen from a distance. How do we interpret people and their behaviour? How and on which level do and can they touch us? How do we touch each other and how can it be expressed? How close do we have to be to each other and which differences does distance in closeness show us? Being in China also means embracing cultural differences, a topic that becomes more and more important with the world rapidly developing into a huge inter-cultural melting pot. It would be very interesting for me to see how people will behave and treat each other in 100, 200 years time, when cultures are even more mixed up.

I think it took me so long to really embrace this topic because I thought it might be a little boring to ‘talk’ about people from only my point of view, since I know that the impressions and experiences of the viewer will always differ from mine and they will never see things the way I do. Also, a lot of artists have worked with that starting point already. But then isn’t there a deep fascination in this concept as well, thinking about the realm of possibilities that one little thought can trigger in different people, although it started off on a very personal emotion?

Picasso kept painting the same women all over again… and the paintings still fulfill me with awe whenever I see them. Working with people might be an old concept but it is still endlessly full of discoveries. Let’s see how far it will take me!