Interview to Sébastien Carré about his exhibition JUNTOS, by Imma Batalla

Interview  /  Joya 2016ExhibitingArtists
Published: 19.09.2016
Sébastien Carré Sébastien Carré
Imma Batalla
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
Sébastien Carré. Ring: Wave On The Beach, 2016. Japanese paper, turquoise, malachite, lapis lazuli, beads, silk, cotton, nylon thread. Photo by: Milo Lee Photography. Sébastien Carré
Ring: Wave On The Beach, 2016
Japanese paper, turquoise, malachite, lapis lazuli, beads, silk, cotton, nylon thread
Photo by: Milo Lee Photography
© By the author. Read Copyright.

In 2014, at twenty-five years old, he completed his studies in art, specializing in jewelry, at the Haute école des arts du Rhin (HEAR) in Strasbourg. And since then, the name Sébastien Carré, hasn’t stopped growing. The recognition of his work has come in the form of awards and recognition. Fascinated by creation he didn’t bowed before the difficulties that he has encountered throughout his life. On the contrary, he has used them to grow both personally and professionally. Optimistic and conciliatory, he believes in the ability of art to improve the world. And it works.
If we ask Sébastien Carré his profession he would say that he is... 
I would say that I am an artist and that my artwork could be worn on the body as a piece of jewelry. The concept behind the pieces is much more important to me than its decorative potential. I also think that, jewelry as an artistic discipline, has now a role to play in the Art History. With the influences of social networks in our society, the private sphere has been reduced. The many works of traditional art have lost their ability to convey ideas to society. On the other hand, jewelry, by being worn on the street, can help us to reflect social changes and at the same time bring art in people’s lives.  

Sébastien Carré, Bracelet: Earth Inflammation / Inflammation Bracelet #6, 2013, Steel Chainmail, japanese paper, cotton, silk, nylon, copper thread, beads, 11 x 11 x 3 cm
Photo by: Milo Lee Photography

You knit, you sew… It is not what you learn in a Jewelry School
I do this for several reasons. On one hand, in France, we have renowned schools to learn the traditional technics of jewelry, but I didn’t study in one of these schools but in one of the only Public Art School that has a workshop of artistic jewelry, HEAR, a school in Strasbourg. In this school there is no proper courses about traditional skills, we learn to cut, weld and shape the metal at first and then learn new technics depending on what we need to do or want to say.  The jewelry workshop works together with other workshops: glass, wood, ceramics and metal but being in an art school we learn to develop an artistic concept by using different technics and materials to enhance it.

On the other hand, I worked more with metals before I became ill, so I gradually changed for the textile technics that will allowed me overcome the physical limitations imposed by my illness. Also, I see my works as if they were living beings and these technics allow me to convey this idea of living matter in a more suggestive and more intense way than the metal. Finally, when I started talking about my life through my work, I found it interesting to use techniques that different women in my family (my mother and my grandmothers) had taught me, making this learning in a kind of allegory in which these technical informations represent mitochondrial DNA that are passed from mother to child. 

Your pieces are made with simple materials, like threads, feathers, plastic, beads and aluminum. Do you consider the artistic contribution you make through your jewelry more important than its material value? 
Of course I consider the Artistic aspect of my work is more important than its materiality. But in my work, each material is part of a vocabulary of my own mythology. I don’t use diifferent materials only for their aesthetic value, I also select some of them for their material value, although not as traditional jewelry where the value of the jewel is almost exclusively determined by the value of the materials it contains, but rather to reflect on the concept of "value".

For example, I am much more interested and passionate by working with Japanese lacquer technics I learned during an exchange in the Massana school, than working with gold and silver. That is why, for me, the Japanese Lacquer Technics has more “value” than any precious metal. The same thing happens with the filmstrip I used in some of my pieces. Here, the “value” is something subjective. These Filmstrips come from the theater where I spent lot of time when I was a little boy and which closed when I was 10.

More than ten years later, unexpectedly, I found these movies, which for me had a great value, and so I decided to use them in my jewelry. As a last example I would like to talk about my way of working with beads. I love mixing them with semi-precious stones regardless of their value. Sometimes they are not even visible, but they are there. To me, "precious" doesn’t lies in appearance, something to show off to the world, but in the essence, in what you keep for yourself or what is inside and often goes unnoticed. 

Sébastien Carré, Brooch: Angina, 2015, Steel chainmail, dalmatian jaspis, silk, cotton,beads, 12 x 7 x 5 cm
Photo by: Milo Lee Photography

The Modern artists, considered as the precursors of artistic jewelry as we understand it today, introduced non-precious materials in jewelry with a socializing spirit, to make it affordable to more people and not only the rich one who could wear special jewelry. Currently there are jewels of paper, cloth, plastic, etc. which are sold more than a thousand euros, more than a month of earning for a lot of people in our country. For whom the artists are creating jewelry today?
It is a thought that I have heard a lot and I think to find an answer we must think both in terms of art as regards to jewelry, in general terms. If we are looking from the side of jewelry, clearly people have more difficulties to understand the prices, for pieces of jewelry that are note including precious materials. Clearly, one thousand euros can seem to be a lot for many people, but this kind of jewelry is not for everyday consumption they are special pieces to be purchased to celebrate something important or because a crush occurs. Some people spend more then fifty thousand euros for a Bucheron’s or Cartier’s bracelet. Compared to this price, the price of Art Jewelry is much more affordable and with this idea in mind, it keeps a continuity with this socializing spirits.

Everything seems a bit clearer when you look at it from the corner of art. One Thousand Euros seems to be a reasonable price for a painting, and nobody is going to say to the painter: “Listen, this is a little expensive, the canvas doesn’t coast much, neither the paint!” It would be totally absurd! Because we all know that the value of an art piece has nothing to do with his materiality, but it is more about what is represented, the idea it transmits or the value we give to the artist. The above considerations lead me to think that the public who came to the exhibitions and acquires artistic jewelry are people who love art, because the value of the materials with which these jewels are made is mostly a problem for people who are only interested in jewelry. So in my own concern, I try to make pieces of various prices to make my work accessible to a wider audience. 

In the last years, the interest for Artistic Jewelry seems to grow. In various places around the world, books and blogs are published; there is lot of Fair, exhibitions, talks, and more and more Studies cycles…. Yet it seems that we do not have much impact outside our own area. Are we doing something wrong? 
No, I believe it is only a matter of time. When I started to study art jewelry there was not even half the things we can find now about this field around the world. Each year there are more cities organizing Jewelry Weeks in order to make this kind of jewelry more known, there are more and more awards and we can also find an increasing in the number of Jewelry artists in the Medias. I have the impression that everything has accelerated within the last two or three years, and I think the Internet has contributed a lot to that.

But I think the problem for the expansion of this discipline, is currently in the social context and the various crises that undermine our societies. It is the same for all the other artistic disciplines. Nevertheless, I think that artistic jewelry still has an important role to play in what to we need to change and improve our societies concerns, while allowing art to be present in our lives in an immediate and straight way. We must try to educate and raise awareness about the real price of things in order to break the habit of buying for buying and thus can change the concept of "value" that prevails in the consumer society. It is therefore essential that art and culture are present and are a part of our lives.

The disease has greatly influenced your work, which at first glance seems very visceral. You create organic shapes that attract by its vibrant colors but also repel questioning the viewer to see your jewelry as something more than only decorative. Your artistic approach of Jewelry seems obvious through your pieces. What ideas, emotions or values you want to communicate? 
Yes, the first pieces that were known internationally arose from my own disease. At first it was a way for me to deal with my reflection, my interrogation about my condition. Then I realized that the pieces were transformed and, somehow, they were expressing the different phases that a patient goes through to reach the psychological acceptance of their illness. Gradually they became more abstract and that is how I started the collection on the representation of the concept of "inflammation". While exhibiting this project I met many people who were attracted to the pieces at first sight, but when I explained what they meant to me, sometimes this attraction was transformed into aversion. And this is precisely what interests me, creating objects that have the power to establish a dialogue with people and provoke a reaction.

Now my work doesn't only focus on the concept of disease. My pieces are a kind of self-portrait of the stomach world and thanks to the scientific advances now we have much more information about it. Among other things, we know that the bacteria that lives in the stomach influences our health but also our tastes much more than we thought. From the point of view of biology all human beings are equal and are also equal to other living beings. This reassures me on the idea that it is better to learn to live together and that it makes no sense to compete among ourselves as if we were enemies. 

If there is an element that characterizes and distinguishes your work it is the use you make with the colored beads used for thousands of years in the jewelry tribal of Africa or America. It is also the material used by children when they make their first jewelry. Is there anything primitive or naive in your work? 
I don’t think the use of the beads in my artwork as primitive or naïve. Although I understand why you say or might think that. Much of the theoretical research that feeds the conceptual basis of my work is made through the viewing of documentaries about different cultures and different ways of living.

I look at civilizations and observe what materials they use, what colors, their speech and all that remains etched in my memory. Soon or later I would use all that information to express something. It's a bit like mixing many different cultures in order to create a universal language.  So I indistinctly use techniques, from America or Africa but also from Europe and Asia. But I think that is not the reason why I use beads. Within my creative universe the beads are symbolizing human beings because they can only be human made. But I also use them because beads are what give the final shape to the piece. First I build with a textile structure for each jewel and then I apply the beads and semi precious gemstones that allow me to stiffen and give the body to the final piece. There is an image that comes to my head repeatedly: I consider myself as a painter painting with volume, regardless of the canvas. The thread is transformed into a color line and the beads are the "touche" of the painter (the marks of the paint brush). 

Tell us about your last job that is exposed these days at Ring Ring.
These latest pieces made for the exhibition at Ring Ring are about two important issues that occupy much of my work and my research right now. 

On one hand, some pieces come from the reflections on the issue of coexistence between equals (although we are all different), a number of jewelry were made with many brightly colored beads mixed with other materials for which I have used a variety of technics to echo the human diversity. These pieces have various appearances also, manifested in the form of landscape or organism according to the different sensitivities of the observers. As I said earlier, we are biologically all the same, the only difference comes from the culture and it’s not always for the best.

But I think it is also culture, not only the one we know, but an universal one, made of literature, science, art, etc. that could help us resolve conflicts and overcome tensions arising from our differences. In all of the cultural manifestations, cinema has special relevance to me. That is why I decided to use filmstrip in another series of pieces to symbolize the “Culture”.  I do not understand the desire that some put in enhancing differences between people, my ideal of society is a society that does not care about differences and is aware of the need, and why not of the beauty of living in harmony. This idea, this desire, this is why I titled this exhibition: “Juntos" (Together in Spanish) .

About the author

Imma Batalla (Onda, 1972) 

Degree in Catalan Philology from the University of Barcelona and a degree in Fine Arts and Design in the speciality of Art Jewellery from the Art and Design school in Tarragona. 
She began his artistic training in the field of sculpture at the Industrial School of Barcelona and at the same time explored other artistic fields such as engraving at the Experimental Center for Contemporary Art La Rectoria and enamels, at the Massana School. 
Her work has been shown in several exhibitions. In 2014 she was part of the jury of the Prize Enjoia't, FAD, Barcelona. 

She currently combines her work with artistic diffusion through two projects: CAT Contemporary Jewellery (, an online catalogue of jewellers and Des del Sud (From the South), a website that aims to contribute to the spread of emerging artists from different disciplines ( 

Website Imma Batalla
Juntos by Sébastien Carré
Milo Lee Photography
I am really proud to invite you to "Juntos " - Sébastien Carré's solo show 
at RING RING Arts&crafts BCN - in the Off JOYA Barcelona (Art Jewelry Fair) program
28/09/2016 - 29/10/2016 
Opening: 27/09/2016 21H

This exhibition is one part of the prize i won last year for the Legacy Awards 2015 by Alliages Gallery.
© By the author. Read Copyright.