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Interview with Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School

Interview
Published: 18.02.2014
Interview with Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School.
Author:
Klimt02
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Ruudt Peters workshop RED for the starting year.
Ruudt Peters workshop RED for the starting year

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
The matrix to start from, is of course a mix of the location (Florence) the energy of us two (Lucia and Doris) and the personality of our artistic directors, but then come the hands and the minds of this multicultural melting pot represented by our students as well as our visitors and lecturers.
Alchimia as a school has created a recognizable plastic language, a brand, while at other schools it is more the influence of an individual teacher the ones who defines this language, How has been this line defined?
The language of Alchimia as you call it has grown over the years through a constant research and with the contribution of all our teachers. Alchimia is and has been a ‘work in progress’, never the same from year to year and every teacher and visitor has left a trace. We have always tried to see the school as a whole, students, teachers, directors, administration, the cat - like an orchestra which has a director and a first violin but the music is played together and the tune is resolved through a common research of harmony and rhythm.

The matrix to start from, is of course a mix of the location (Florence) the energy of us two (Lucia and Doris) and the personality of our artistic directors, but then come the hands and the minds of this multicultural melting pot represented by our students as well as our visitors and lecturers.


How does the school select the teachers who will work there? Because of their work, the teaching trajectory, by student needs…?
We invite teachers because we love their work, we invite teachers to enhance technical knowledge in the most diverse fields, we invite teachers to set a counterpoint to our didactic methodology and culture, we invite teachers to broaden the spectrum of professional possibilities. All these aspects are part of our selection criteria, but there is also a personal moment and the fact that we try to give as many positions as possible without causing too much confusion.

What is the type of student interesting for your school?
The students interested in our school come from many different countries and backgrounds. We can say that the average age is around mid twenty and many of them have studied art, design or architecture before choosing jewellery but there are quite a few who are older searching for a new creative chance in life. Why do they choose Alchimia, there are many different facts that influence their choices and surely an important one is our location Florence, but maybe the most essential reason is the family like structure of the school, its atmosphere full of energy and passion and probably also its size and the continuous interaction between students and teachers. We really try to never leave anybody behind but have every student find the ‘red thread’ of her/his life.

Besides the official courses you organize workshops with contemporary artists, what will you say is the contribution of the workshop format?
Workshops give very different inputs than long term courses, they are intense and ask for a lot of effort and attention from both workshop teachers and students. For students they can result in a kind of creative electroshock which will often show the actual results much later. For professionals a workshop with a contemporary artist is a ‘time off ‘ the routine, a new outlook, which might result in a discovery of abilities or strengths one did not know anything about. For other teachers it is a change of role extremely important from time to time. In order to be good teachers we should never forget what it is like to be a student.

What are the most common gaps you detect in the students background?
This is hard to say since they all have a very different basic education and such different cultural origins. It would also be a long discussion in what can be considered a gap. If a chinese student does not know anything about European art history we certainly cannot really call this a gap - what do we Europeans know about chinese art history? So what we try to do is to enhance their curiosity in all which surrounds them and fill the eventual gaps be those cultural or technical through particular attention from the teachers side.

Is there any special feedback with the students on the fact you both also develop your artist careers?
We both have our individual artistic life because this is part of our personal needs and this surely reflects positively on students because they know to what kind of personality they rely to. We are more credible, theory and practice get another dimension and involvement and struggle can be transmitted in a more direct way. We feel it is also very important that our artistic personalities are different as are our opinions on art, design and jewellery.

How do you summarize the current international scene of nowadays schools?
It is not easy to summarize. For sure the economic crises has put a lot of university departments in difficulties and we see schools fusing in always bigger institutions. There is also the fact that worldwide the old academy is turning into anglo-saxon Ba and Master systems (as also our school) there are also more and more PHD’s in jewellery, which will probably soon be a requirement for teaching in Universities. This might mean that the profession will be over theorized and the craft skills left apart, but on the other hand it might mean that we finally get really educated theorists which the field is definitely lacking.

On the other hand a lot of Alchimia like small schools are popping up in countries that never had any as AFDS in Cairo or Maden in Istanbul, and we are very proud to be a model for these schools (some of them founded by Alchimia alumni). But also in countries like America (Brooklyn Metalworks) Greece (Anamma), Thailand and even Germany small but highly efficient private schools are opening.

A goal you haven’t yet acquired?
A one-year sabbatical for both of us.

A country which surprises you for the creative skills of the students?
Every country can have a surprise in positive and negative.

How do you think Alchimia is influencing in the current scenario of Contemporary Jewellery?
This is a tricky question. For sure Alchimia is influencing education, as we said already above a lot of new schools (private schools) have Alchimia as a model. If you mean of how and if we are influencing Contemporary Jewellery as a practice and art form, this is difficult for us to judge and would need somebody else to analyze.

A school you would like to make a collaboration?
We already have collaborations with many schools all over the world and we would love to add one in China.

Alchimia was founded in 1998, what is the most remarkable you have learned during this 15 years?
The discovery that work is passion and fun. To participate with always new surprise in the creative and human development of our students. The more energy and passion you put into the work the bigger is the return. That you never stop learning. To be happy every Monday of the year.
Doris Maninger.
Doris Maninger

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Lucia Massei.
Lucia Massei

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Chasing workshop in school.
Chasing workshop in school

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Alchemic experiments, exhibition, Valencia 2012.
Alchemic experiments, exhibition, Valencia 2012

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Drawing room school, workshop second year.
Drawing room school, workshop second year

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Students in Alchimia garden.
Students in Alchimia garden

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Workshop RED, final act, Florence Piazza Signoria.
Workshop RED, final act, Florence Piazza Signoria

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Koen Jacobs research on 'Underworld'.
Koen Jacobs research on 'Underworld'

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Third year, group critique.
Third year, group critique

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Window installation Azahara Santoro.
Window installation Azahara Santoro

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