Thursday, 28 May 2015

SNAG Boston

I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 44th annual SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference, Looking Back, Forging Forward, held in Boston from 20 - 23 May.

Hanging out with Ruudt

The highlight of the conference was listening to Ruudt Peters keynote presentation 2mm Squared. Ruudt's practice continually challenges peoples perceptions of conventional jewellery and he alternates between jewellery and sculpture.

It was interesting to hear him talk about jewellery as craft, and how many makers get lost in the material and forget about the concept behind the work. He believes that this is the downfall of craft, which lacks the critical thinking and theories of art.

working sketch of an idea in process

It was fascinating to see his process from sketches which make their way to a family (series) of pieces. Ruudt is always challenging himself to create new pieces by placing himself in unfamiliar environments (such as a trip to China) and working with materials he doesn't like until you learn to love them. 

He was spoke about giving space to the unconscious and he often will create 'blind drawings' to start his creative process. He will intensely research and draw relating to a particular project, and then burn them all to allow the subconscious to create. The results are always fresh and spectacular. 

One of the finished pieces
 The conference also offered professional development workshops and I had the opportunity to meet with UK artist Helen Carnac, and discuss my work. Helen provided many great insights, and suggested a number of artists to research, that would assist to progress my work. This was incredibly exciting as she approaches jewellery making with a UK perspective, which is completely different to that of North America. Interestingly, she suggested that I work with metal to make it look more fluid like textiles - which relates back to my BVA in textiles. I look forward to trying out some of these ideas in the studio.

Two artists Helen suggested I research are:

June Schwarcz - who creates soft textile looking objects using metal and enamel
Martin Puryear - a sculpture who often incorporates textile techniques to construct large objects

The Heidi Lowe gallery held a pop up exhibition in one of the hotel rooms, which was welcomed with great excitement by the conference participants. Lots of great earrings were on display and I couldn't help but buy a pair - as a souvenir of course! 

I loved the simplicity of this design by Laura Hutchcraft

There were many satellite exhibitions (and way too many to see) which also provided the opportunity to explore Boston by foot.

Boston Streets

One of the exhibition highlights was held at the Laconia Gallery. The Homework Project, invited eight metalsmith, who have a studio in their homes to create a piece per month using their homes and the space within as a source of inspiration. The results were amazing.

dryer 'felt' or 'fluff'

Old hair curlers

Bracelts made from an old sewer pipe. Brilliant!

Looking at lines in the walls 

Back at the conference the vendor room was full of rocks, minerals and gems to admire, and purchase!  There were so many to choose from it was almost overwhelming.

A selection of gems I couldn't resist buying.
When the conference finished we continued our love of gems and minerals and visited the Natural History Museum at Harvard University.
Grounds at Harvard University, Cambridge

Fabulous displays of minerals
The collection was inspirational.

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