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Dear jewelry friends,

it is often said that Florence has very little devoted to contemporary cultures, so on a grey Sunday like this we decided to pitch to you three shows of contemporary visual arts we believe you shouldn’t miss while here. And we believe so because all of them, although in completely different ways and rather laterally more than literally, engage with the human body and its representation. Un-doubtly food for thought for jewelry makers around the world.

[Disclaimer: two out of the three shows we recommend have been curated or organized by some of our present or past Alchimia Team members. This is to say that we are not entirely partial but also that our staff really is the best you can find around.]

We start with WOMAN POWER a solo-show by Maria Lassnig (1914 – 2014), on view until June 25 at the Andito deli Angiolini of Palazzo Pitti. A paramount austrian artist of the XX century, this exhibition features 25 of her works, spanning her career from the beginning of the Sixties and until the first decade of the XX century. The female body and its self-representation are at the core of her practice, for a path that calls for women’s emancipation.

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It’s also so beautiful to read in capital letters Woman Power in front of one of the city’s strongest symbols)

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Electronic Renaissance, a solo-show by Bill Viola at Palazzo Strozzi on view until July 23.

Viola has explored Christianity and its representation in the XV and XVI century as a tool to reflect on contemporary society and its faces and facets. With a touch of new age spiritual vibe, his works are a whirlwind of emotions and spectacularity. A reflection about life and death as felt and seen through the decay or perfection of the human body.

Whether you like this master of video-art or not, this is an exhibition that is worth seeing already for two main reasons: one is that for the first time Viola’s relation to Renaissance’s painting is brought to the fore via a direct dialogue with the original paintings he was inspired by; the second is that this is a large solo-exhibition through which you can experience and understand the artist’s practice from the seventies and until today, hence allowing for a much more nuanced understanding of his oevre as a whole (including jewels of documentation of Viola’s three years experience working as an assistant in Tuscany with the ground breaking Art/tapes/22).

Our dream art history and cultural theory professor Riccardo Lami has been a core member in the organization of this show.

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Essentially Jérôme Bel offers a different approach to dance. One in which dancers become speaking subjects and the co-authors of his works. In which professional dancers and amateurs from different cultural and social contexts have access, together, to the stage. Where the realm of the “real” and of its excluded subjects becomes the content and form of his choreographic pieces.

Also in this exhibition the body and its forms are paramount, a body that is diverse and emancipated, a body that is hard to see at the centre stage: where disabled, elderly, people with diverse cultural and ethnical backgrounds, and even children, perform a dance that moves miles away from our standard conception of beauty and movement.

The show will open on Friday the 28th without the classic on-invite-only-entrance: so get yourself together and make the effort to go to Prato where you’ll be able to see the exhibition for free and experience a number of live performances for the occasion (at 7 and at 9pm + an ongoing one). 

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Enjoy the week and go see some art.

x

Alchimia

 

A report by Lilian Mattuschka

With photos by Piero Arico

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Otto Kunzli, Quidam, from 7.03 to 14.03 2017 at Galerie Wittembrik

As every year during the jewellery week, Munich is invaded by strange characters, recognizable thanks to their unique tendency to wear ornament and decoration.

During these intense days, you will see colourful broaches, big necklaces and eye-catching rings all around the city, and if these signs are not evident enough you can identify them because of the one common object everyone holds tight in their hands: the Current Obsession map/book.

Makers, collectors, gallerists, students and just curious people (way less than the others, indeed) from different cultural backgrounds come together with a common goal: contemporary jewellery.

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Pearl Necklace, 2016, Carved freshwater pearls

As a professional myself, I want to share my favourites of this Munich jewellery week 2017:

BEATRICE BROVIA AND NICOLAS CHENG, “GOLD RUSH”

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Gold Rush, 2017, Exhibition view, Beatrice Brovia and Nicolas Cheng

One of the most interesting and complete exhibitions in this year´s schmuck thanks to a perfectly working dialog between the display and the pieces.

Visitors were encouraged to look beyond the regular ways in which highly precious materials are used in the jewellery field, and to reflect on their controversial nature.

With a series of very clean and aesthetically pleasing pieces made out of e-waste Brovia and Cheng where putting their focus on the normally invisible uses of gold.

AKIKO KURIHARA “THE CAT DID IT”

Smart and funny as every year. Always a pleasure to visit and see what new game is on the table of Akiko Kurihara.

JORGE MANILLA “ABRUPTIONS”

A mysterious and dark experience in strong contrast with the enthusiastic crowd of visitors that were literally fighting to touch the enchanting skin of these guts-like pieces.

COCO SUNG “KARMA”

Freedom was the first thing that came to my mind when I entered in CoCo Sung’s show. Refreshing and inspiring, a beautiful combination between painting and jewellery.

Sung opened up to visitors her imaginary world with courage and great ability in combining colour, shapes and material.

To know more about Alchimia jewellery school in Florence check our main website.

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Marissa Ryan Racht’s new body of work titled Farview, outcome of a two-year research developed within the MA program of Alchimia, exists on what she defines as “the fine line between fear and empathy that defines us as human beings, and the methods we use to conceal them or protect ourselves against them”. Delicate but ultimately rough, seducing in a rather uncanny way, hard to define or classify, her pieces could be read and experienced within a larger exhibitionary framework in which images, photographs and a video introduced the audience to her larger set of references, both architectural and biographical, and to a particular type of drawings she realized with closed eyes incited by the reading of stories of fear and empathy of other people.

But let’s start from the basics. The site of the show, was a space available for an affordable rent in the center of Florence that created the right environment for the pieces.

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Tables (and mind: beautiful ones taken from an antiquary) were hung from the ceiling so as to keep the jewelry pieces in the center of the exhibition format, surrounded by the other elements of the show such as the drawings.

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Did you notice the white leather chair? Quite a number were distributed through the space, to direct specific viewing positions Marissa was interested in facilitating.

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Marissa brought forward two collaborations, one for the images with Lilian Mattuschka, and one for a film with Federico Cavicchioli.

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She printed a beautiful catalogue in 60 copies, designed by Lumy Noguez, with texts by curator and writer Riccardo Lami and herself, images of the pieces and many of her drawings. The price is 15eu only for special and limited edition, so we can’t but encourage to get one at your earliest convenience.

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Last but not least: the carefully arranged food, as Marissa really takes care of every detail.

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And of course as always we recommend: don’t forget to thanks friends (and family). As far as we know Carla Movia and Bernardo Cioci were paramount in making this happen.

x

 

Alchimia: Can you tell us what is the core of your teaching at Alchimia?

Marzia Rossi: The aspect that is most valued in the courses we propose, in my opinion, is the discovering and enhancing of the essence of the materials that are chosen each time. Trying to understand through tactile research, the weight, the very nature of the material we use, for example if it is natural or synthetic, or how it can be manipulated.

Metal, of course, is the material we use most, but even beginner students learn immediately that you can use various types of metal and each of them wants and has to be treated in a different manner. It is very important to choose the most suitable one in relation to what it is one wants to accomplish.

Daniela Boieri: The programs are tailored on the necessities and interets of the students. In the case of beginners we teach them how to familiarize with their creativity and with the tools that we use in the field. With professionals, we try to give new inputs to develop and challenge further their work.

Alchimia: What techniques or pedagogical methodologies do you adopt?

Marzia Rossi: We try to teach how many ways there are to wear a jewel; what feeling it should give, because it always is a very personal choice whether it is a more classic or completely experimental type of jewellery.

The process of “making ” a jewel in our courses is definitely practice-based, but it is indeed a creative process, where final objects are achived only via trials and experiments.

Even in the case of more technical courses it is important to understand, by talking to each student, what kind of project they want to accomplish: a series of pieces with a common theme/concept or a few unique very precious pieces require different choices.

Daniela Boieri: In the case of beginners we would start, for example, with the most simple welds, designing and building a necklace and then move on to more complex forms is the case of a box-ring …Or, if they are interested in the closure of the stones, we teach them to make a ring with cabochon cut stone, which is the first approach to this type of technique. In the process of realization of each piece we also examine aspects relating to things such as portability, weight, etc ..Typically in two weeks we get to finish at least three pieces (necklace, ring, brooch / earring).

 

Alchimia: Who are your students? Can you tell us what kind of people and professionals take part in your workshops?

Marzia Rossi: The versatility of the courses, which aims to respond to interests and needs that are different and quite unique every time, leads to a very interesting and heterogeneous type of participants, coming from all parts of the world. Most of the students that land on the benches of the Intensive Courses are looking for experiencing something new: we have people who were doing completely different jobs and have decided to now think with and through their hands; others are already working or studying as goldsmiths, but are curious to try new methods or others who arrive with many doubts and questions accumulated over time. And here, we try to answer or at least to offer our expertise to support them, and the beauty of it is that when you mix different experiences something new always comes out. This is why the dialogue between teacher and student and also between the students themselves never becomes an end in itself but rather always a good starting point.

Daniela Boieri: There are students of all types …Mostly it is women between 20 and 70 years old. There are those who approach jewellery for the first time to see if it is a type of work that they would like or not; those who already own workshops but want to specialize in some particular technique, those who want to discover and work with materials other than metal…

Daniela Boieri graduated in jewellery, costume design and fashion at the University of Florence in 2001 and specialised in contemporary jewellery in Alchimia from 2004 to 2007. She works as an independent jewellery artist, designer and teacher. She loves metal and its secrets as colourings and patinations, adding and joining, engraving and etching. Her jewellery is present internationally in various galleries and museums.

Marzia Rossi graduated in Interior Design in Milan and studied at Alchimia Contemporary School in Florence. In her work prevails a research for a transparency of materials, even when opaque. Her jewellery pieces have been presented in numerous exhibitions and they are exposed in international art and design galleries. Her work is represented by Antonella Villanova Gallery, Florence and Charon Kransen, New York. She is currently teaching at Alchimia School and she is working in her atelier in Florence.

 

 

 

 

Everything is circular

1. Draw; Keep Lists; Collect images; Document

Drawing is a way of thinking; it is my daily ritual. Find what suits you best and generate ideas on a regular schedule. It is not so much about inspiration, but hard work. Sit down and something will come. Even if it is just one word or one line that day it can become a future source of inspiration. An image may catch your attention one random Tuesday and become the basis of a new body of work 3 years later.

Document your work – even if seems like the most boring of tasks on earth.   DO IT!

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‘Hangers’; 2014

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‘Untitled Project 2’; 2014

 

2. Explore new techniques and old techniques

In the ‘Jewelry World’, like the ‘Art World’ techniques seem to come into fashion in waves. It is easy to get caught up in these trends. But choose techniques for the right reasons – new techniques are always exciting, but I have found they are always the most interesting when placed in contrast with the old ways of doing things. Respect tradition by learning about it, but don’t forget to challenge and question.

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief I’ ; 2015

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‘If it were not for the muck.kerchief II’ ; 2015

 3. Be generous; collaborate

The most interesting and impressive people I have met have been generous with their time and knowledge. This is a quality I try to emulate. Engage with people in different fields and from different places. Knowledge is gold.   Conversations can lead to understanding and to unthinkable collaborations. These collaborations can help you see your work in a new way.

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‘Crit Room Detritus’; collaboration with Amy Wang; 2014

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‘Hanging Blanks’; 2016

 4. Float, but with a paddle

 I have never been someone with a plan, I prefer to wander or float. Understand the downsides of this and figure out how to overcome them.   Goals are important, but you cannot change your natural way of exploring the world. I have had to learn how to deal with the shortcoming of this method of living life. I bought a paddle – steer from time to time.

 

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‘Football Crop-Top’; 2016

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‘Sparkle Jacket’; 2016 (photo credit: Aliona Kustenova)

 5. Give errors a second chance

A step back and time away can help reframe your work and always helps me understand it in a different light. This is helpful when you feel lost. Embrace mistakes, but be critical. Creation is messy and a fertile mistake can lead you in directions you were never even aware existed.

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‘Houses’; table drawings for la douzaine; 2017

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‘Tracing Blank-ie’; 2013

 Everything is circular

 The more I do, the more I realize everything is circular. My path and choices have sometimes seemed unrelated. I am impulsive and dive head first into whatever interests me at the moment. But I am learning that maybe my impulses are perhaps less random then I first thought. Maybe they are subconscious and born from my core interests. Forging the same path over and over is OK. The treads will wear down the earth under your feet and a deeper circle will be etched away. This has taken me a while to figure out, so be patient and kind with yourself!

Never one for traditional paths, Nadège Roscoe-Rumjahn’s has followed a circuitous route through her educational journey. With a background in architecture from McGill University, she found herself drawn to the opposing scale of contemporary jewelry.  Diving head first, she attended Alchimia in Florence, Italy and in 2014, completed a master’s in fine arts at Cranbrook Academy of Art.  Her passion for architecture, fashion, objecthood and craft has led to an insatiable appetite for technique, as she continues to grow as a multi-media artist. Her primary focus is on the human form as she searches to express a moment where intimacy exists.

Nadege’s latest project ‘la douzaine’ is a play on a maker’s dozen.  Handmade, one-of-a-kind blankets, table linens, clothing and weavings are created for the discerning collector. Small batches and limited editions are the output of unique projects and collaborations, all nodding to a slowly fading textile industry.

It’s not easy to advice jewelry maker Carla Movia. Not easy because she mostly knows and plans everything before you were even asked. She does research, she studies possibilities. She knows what has preceded her and has very strong esthetic opinions on contemporary jewelry and its different threads. She reads, she sees a lot, and is very well informed. She is hungry of a particular type of knowledge, and she perfectly knows what she is looking for. Nomen Nescio, the exhibition coming out of her 2 years research during the MFA program at Alchimia, and essentially an installation of 300 brooches, shows exactly all of that.

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The pieces highlight a uniqueness amongst the mass, hence the decision to show them in grids was a very smart one. Instead of creating chaotic crowds of pieces shown throughout the space, this type of display setting gives the visitor the chance to really care and look for the details and the differences between them.

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Each piece came with its own “passport”: literally a sort of identity document for the pieces, giving information about them, such as their names, materials, leaving space to document their journeys and speak of their future owners. This gives the pieces a political tone, one that speaks of citizenship and sense of identity.

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As we always suggest at Alchimia: do make good edition pieces. Here you can see how several in fact were sold. Please note that this can be your little contribution to society: Carla decided to donate a percentage of the sales to Oxfam, a confederation of NGO’s working on the alleviation of global poverty.

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The exhibition was held in a very beautiful private space not far from the school. This is not the best choice in terms of audiences as of course this means the space itself won’t bring in a crowd. On the other hand the esthetic result has been just what Carla was looking for. In one way or the other we find ourselves almost always having to make some compromises.

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As always, and again and again, friends play a major role in setting up an exhibition. Be always sure to check their schedule, not only yours, when planning a date.

x

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The ornament is a very rich and complex cultural phenomenon. The need for decoration and ornamentation has always been an essential part of mankind, from the earliest civilizations until the present day. The ornament is present in every discipline of the Arts, and closely related to the world of jewellery, in which the need to decorate the body forms the main reason for its existence. A piece of jewellery is always an ornament, but an ornament is not always a piece of jewellery.

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The ornament can have a symbolic, aesthetic or social function since there is an intimate relation between ornaments and the way people express their life. Feelings of joy, lust and grieve are all materialized in ornaments. Although being attacked for the first time in history in the early 20th century by the architect Adolf Loos and by the philosophy of the modernists, the ornament clearly survived and has now proven to be a subject for contemporary developments in both Fine Art and Design.

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During the course the students will investigate the origin of the ornament, its meaning and full potency. The students will be encouraged to connect the world of jewellery with other disciplines, and to search for a relation between the past and the present. Through short exercises and assignments, both individual talks and group discussions the students will develop a personal and contemporary vision on the ornament which will have to result in finished pieces.

I strongly believe every student has to become aware of the relation between the mind, the heart and the belly during the creative process. To form a strong and personal vision, concentration and deepening is necessary. During the workshop the students will be challenged to go the whole way with an idea, to stretch it as far as it can go.

The workshop will take place from July 11 to 15, 2017.

For more information write to: info@alchimia.it

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Evert Nijland is a Dutch jewelry maker. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions world-wide, including in the Galerie Rob Koudijs, Galerie Louise Smit, Coda museum, Gorkums Museum, Textielmuseum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Galerie Spektrum and Cranach Haus, Museum fur Kunst und Gew,  Internationale Handwerksmesse ‘Schmuck’(DE), Oratorio di San Rocco (IT), Cheongju International Craft Biennale (KR), Fondation Bernardaud (FR), MAD Museum (USA), Victoria & Albert Museum (UK) among many more. He is the recipient of several awards among the many the Dutch Design Prizes and The Sotheby’s Award and his work has been acquired by public collections such as the Nationaal Zilvermuseum, Nederlands Textielmuseum, MMK Museum, Coda Museum and Stedelijk Museum (NL), Mima, Middlesbrough Intitute of Modern Art and Victoria & Albert Museum (UK), Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum of Arts and Design, New York and the Mint Museum of Crafts & Design, Charlotte NC (USA).