Every month we introduce you to one of the Canadian artists we represent. There is no salt and pepper, we reveal the rawest story on our artists' creative journey. How they met and fell in love with jewellery? What inspired them and how? What was the making process like? What are the tips on being a successfully established jewellery artist? Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on our latest collections. Go to INTERVIEW ARCHIVE to read more stories.

PRECIOUS - Featured Artist : Christine Dwane

May 01, 2019

PRECIOUS is an exhibition that asks us to look at the ways in which we covet and desire some things and discard others; the luxurious materials we revere versus those we so easily dispose of. Christine Dwane explores the use of unconventional materials in response to increasing ecological and environmental urgency, using upcycled materials such as plastic wrappers and milk tags.

Spring Festival Beads - sterling silver, imitation turquoise, aluminum foil (recycled candy wrappers)
Photo by John Kane Photography

Q: What is your origin story - what do you think sparked your creativity?

My father was a doctor and my mother was a teacher, but both were makers. My father worked with wood mostly, making a lamp, shelves, a rocking-horse, our impressive deck and my mother created all kinds of things, everything from rice-paper lamp shades, quilted blankets, clothes, knitted and crocheted items to painted murals in our bedrooms. I was brought up watching my parents form ideas about what they wanted and needed in the house and then make them real.

Q: How did your journey as an artist and a jeweller begin?

When I was a child, my mother had a friend, Danielle Aird who was married to a goldsmith, Neil Aird. We visited his shop in downtown Kingston where I grew up and it was jewellery like i had never seen before - completely modernw with non-traditional shapes and compositions. I had never known that this type of jewellery could exist; it intrigued me. By the time I was a teenager, I was looking for an extra-curricular activity and Neil recommended a jewellery course at a nearby college. This was my first experience with metal and although I didn't fall in love with it at that time, when I came back to it in my early twenties I was ready to take the plunge and was hooked for life!

Transforming Milk Tags for the Breakfast Collection

Q: Why do you think jewellery as a creative medium or means of expression, is an important or relevant one? How does jewellery, in your opinion, differ from other creative forms of expression?

Mediums that are worn on the body seem more personal to me and have a lot to do with self-expression and identity. I see jewellery as a medium that reflects the different facets of ourselves; there is something in the durability of metals and stones that make this artform unique. It can be wrapped up in cultural ideals and prestige, but can also address other issues and open up a discussion when used outside of a conventional context. It is incredibly versatile - the way it is embedded in the cultural evolution of humans leads me to believe that it addresses a primal need of self expression.

Breakfast Collection - acrylic, plastic (repurposed milk tags)
Photo by John Kane Photography

Q: Please explain your creative process - how does a piece of jewellery begin and end for you?

Sometimes I lie in bed not fully awake, letting my mind wander - musing. It is at these times that I have spontaneous ideas come into my mind that I can use as a starting point to a piece or collection. Other times it may be in everyday life that I come across an object that piques my interest in its design that may inspire a composition. Other times I will come across materials that intrigue me and I want to explore what I can do with them and how I can apply them to wearable pieces. Materials give me a starting point on a path that I can follow with a lot of spontaneity, it's fun and sometimes playful as an exercise.

Q: Where do you find inspiration as an artist?

All around me - in the design of cars, architecture, furniture, but also in plants, trees, geological formations... shapes and composition are everywhere. I especially like functional design, objects that are created to use. I find it very interesting what humans create to have around them, the objects they use as tools to help them do something, like cook or light a room. It is interesting to see the things you surround yourself with to see what they tell you about yourself.

Q: What other artists inspire you?

In the repetitive elements that form texture and movement in Jeanne Opgenhaffen's work and in the simple but striking designs of David Huycke's pieces. David also uses repetition to create form and texture in a very effective way. An-fen-kuo has a wonderful use of colour in her organic shapes that invoke a natural attraction to plants and vegetation and I love the up-cycling by Cedric Chevalley with his use of skateboards; the patterns and colour are put on full display with large surface elemental bracelet design.

Precious Things from the Land and from the Sea - 18k yellow gold, dyed freshwater pearls, diamonds, aluminum foil (recycled candy wrappers)
Photo by John Kane Photography

Q: Looking back from your career now, to when you first began - how would you best describe your evolution so far?

I started naturally limited as a student knowing only silver as a material. Of course all of the exercises in school were to get to know the material in what it can do with the basic techniques of jewellery making, but when trying to make an impressive piece I would make the mistake of adding more elements and more detail which would make for a bulky overbearing piece. I have since explored other materials and their limits as wearable art. I have situated myself in my expression through composition and choice of materials to create an identifiable look. If i call this my voice, I would have to say that my work now has much more simplicity to its composition, a piece doesn't have to be complicated to be effective or for the design to feel right and create an impact. I like the saying that "less is more". I hope this is reflected in my work.

Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt and what advice would you give to artists who are just beginning?

Look for your voice, your expression, your look. Don't try too hard. Get to know your creative process by trial and observation, let it flow and watch. Have fun and explore different paths, let your process evolve and when you get to a practice that works for you, you can feel that it is right, you recognize a good fit.

Q: What do you hope those who view your work or wear it, take away from that experience?

Playful enjoyment of the different materials - if someone connects and falls in love with a piece, it is precious to them no matter what it is made of. It is possible to have a piece made from ecologically responsible materials (in most part... pearls are questionable) and have a precious piece of jewellery with metals that are recycled (95%), synthetic diamonds and up-cycled aluminium foil.

Open C's Necklace - 18k yellow gold, enamel on plastic (recycled milk tags)

Q: Through this exhibition, PRECIOUS, we are asking the question, why do we value some things and so easily dispose of others - an important question when we consider the state of our environment. What role does the environment, consumption or consumerism play in the work you have created?

With all stones being lab-created and reused materials to make the bulk of the beads and links, the jewellery i have created is very eco-conscious. The environment and consumption in our society play a major role in the creation of my work.

Q: How do you think we can reconcile the need to create from within an industry that has traditionally relied solely on resource extraction and mining? What role does the environment play, specifically our responsibility as artists to it.

To imagine and create other ways of using and re-using what we have already to create new works. These ideas and attitude toward reusing resources spill over into mainstream culture. We are at the bow of new ideas pushing them forward into our society.

Open C's Necklace - 18k yellow gold, enamel on plastic (recycled milk tags)
Photo by John Kane Photography

A big thank you to Christine for inspiring us with their creative journey and insight! To view Christine's work, currently on display as part of our PRECIOUS exhibition, click here. "PRECIOUS", is currently on display until May 31st - click here to find out more.

18Karat Studio+GalleryARTIST OF THE MONTH - DWANE(2)