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Hilde Van der Heyden and Theo Smeets: 100 Carats, Fatal Transactions

Workshop  /  27 Feb 2012  -  02 Mar 2012
Published: 06.06.2012
Hilde Van der Heyden and Theo Smeets: 100 Carats, Fatal Transactions.
St Lucas University College of Art & Design Antwerp
Management:
Hilde De Decker
Dried fishes covered with diamonds (Naomie kolsteren and Eva Mundorff).
Dried fishes covered with diamonds (Naomie kolsteren and Eva Mundorff)

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Intro
A new approach to diamond-application,  developed within a new and contemporary artistic context. Masterclass: 100 Carats “Fatal Transactions” took place at St Lucas University earlier this spring.
The theme of this master class was: can a new approach to diamond-application, in all its forms, be developed within a new and contemporary artistic context, away from the clichématic and established uses in jewelry?
As only a very small percentage of mined diamonds can be cut and polished into gems, the large majority ends up in industrial applications, labeled “industrial diamond”. It is with these forms of industrial diamond, as an alternative to gems, that the master class-students could experiment with the purpose to develop a new and contemporary context as well as a new and meaningful approach to “diamond”.
This level of realization prompted it to be put on display and preferably in a confronting environment.  Where better could the artistic criticism of the world of the diamond-users and the presentation of contemporary artistic applications of industrial diamonds come in confrontation with the established diamond-world, than in the Diamond-Center in Antwerp? The exhibition attracted attention from the ‘locals’ and passers-by in this multicultural setting.

Masterclass: 100 Carats “Fatal Transactions” was organized by Hilde Van der Heyden and Theo Smeets

Remarks

Within the framework of the BOF research program of Hilde Van der Heyden, researcher/teacher/tutor at the jewelry dept. of St Lucas University College of Art & Design, Antwerp, in cooperation with Staf Van Tendeloo of the EMAT research group of the University of Antwerp (www.emat.ua.ac.be), into new bonding and connecting-applications and techniques of diamonds (in all their appearances, forms and shapes) to other products, metals, …etc., and the development of new approaches these techniques could offer to jewelry design and realization, a master class was organized.

The theme of this master class was: can a new approach to diamond-application, in all its forms, be developed within a new and contemporary artistic context, away from the clichématic and established uses in jewelry?

As only a very small percentage of mined diamonds can be cut and polished into gems, the large majority ends up in industrial applications, labeled “industrial diamond”. These are conditioned for their final use (cut, sliced, ground, …etc.), based on their hardness, sharpness, …etc.  It is with these forms of industrial diamond (powder and clattering*), as an alternative to gems, that the master class-students could experiment with the purpose to develop a new and contemporary context as well as a new and meaningful approach to “diamond”.
This master class was open to master-students from different disciplines of the departments of jewelry, graphical design and fine arts of St Lucas University College of Art & Design and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp.  To complement the tutoring-input and support, Prof. Theo Smeets, jewelry-designer and teacher/tutor at the Fachhochschule, Edelstein und Schmuckdesign, Idar Oberstein (the German center of gemstone developing), was invited as co- and guest lecturer/tutor.

Initially, when their application to participate was registered, the interested students were asked to present a motivation as to why this topic was of interest to them, instigating them to study and explore the actual role of the diamond, from mining to its final commercial and/or industrial form, and its implications on the political, social-economic and environmental levels. This, together with a presentation of their own realizations and areas of personal artistic interest by each student, formed the basis of a critical introspection regarding their approach of the material that they were going to handle.

Each participant was given 100 carats of different forms of industrial diamond, which they collected from a diamond-trading company located within the Diamond Center in Antwerp. As this was, for most of them, a first contact with this international but rather private community, it added an additional angle to their critical introspection and generated discussions regarding the product “diamond”.

Under the coaching of both tutors, the participants experimented with this, for them, new material. Exploring and researching new approaches to use this by-product in a different and critical context compared to the context in which diamonds have been used up to now.  Trying to approach and look at diamonds beyond their luxurious character and their generally conceived and accepted role as a carriage of the human vanity.  Developing the artist’s renewed and contemporary view and the concretization of her or his criticism relating to this product and its place within our society.

The results varied strongly from person to person but were somehow consistent with, either the disciplines they are actually studying, or their background, nationality, social-, environmental- and political awareness and interest.   

It was an intense week of exploring, researching, discussing and experimenting, whereby each individual, due to her or his critical approach, added to the high overall quality-level of the creativity of the realized and presented final results.   

This level of realization prompted it to be put on display and preferably in a confronting environment.  Where better could the artistic criticism of the world of the diamond-users and the presentation of contemporary artistic applications of industrial diamonds come in confrontation with the established diamond-world, than in the Diamond-Center in Antwerp?  With the very kind and highly esteemed cooperation of Rubin and Son NV, an off-the-record, pop-up exhibition was organized at the last moment, the Friday-afternoon in their shopping-window, when there was an intense passing-by of people working in the Diamond Center.  A high interest by the “locals” was recorded.    

The organizer of this Master-Class, Hilde Van der Heyden, would herewith like to thank Prof. Theo Smeets, for his unrelenting dedication and highly appreciated human and artistic input in this Master-Class, as well as Staf Van Tendeloo, for his assistance, procurement and supplying the required material.  Theo Smeets and Hilde Van der Heyden thank all participating students for their positive and creative attitude and involvement and they both hope that this master class has been an addition towards their creative and artistic development.  Furthermore their gratitude goes to the management and staff of Rubin and Son NV, for offering the possibility to the participating students to exhibit their results.  They also wish to thank ATV for their interest shown in this master class and for the airtime and publicity they dedicated to this project. Finally the assistance and support from all colleagues, directly or remotely involved in this project, was highly appreciated by both teachers.

*clattering: small flakes of diamond that still have a sparkle, this opposed to “powder” being grey    and dull in appearance.
Starting point.
Starting point

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Research reflections (Robert van Heek).
Research reflections (Robert van Heek)

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100 ct rough diamonds.
100 ct rough diamonds

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Tin and diamonds (Jonathan Hens).
Tin and diamonds (Jonathan Hens)

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Dried fishes covered with diamonds (Naomie kolsteren and Eva Mundorff).
Dried fishes covered with diamonds (Naomie kolsteren and Eva Mundorff)

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Diamond seed (Loreta Visic).
Diamond seed (Loreta Visic)

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Globe with 100 Ct of diamonds (Arno Heeren).
Globe with 100 Ct of diamonds (Arno Heeren)

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Intervieuwed by the Antwerp TV.
Intervieuwed by the Antwerp TV

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Pills filled with diamond (Hatsuko Kobayashi).
Pills filled with diamond (Hatsuko Kobayashi)

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The experts gauging the presented works in the Antwerp Diamond Center..
The experts gauging the presented works in the Antwerp Diamond Center.

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Lush to the sparkling toothpaste from Nathalie Van Durme.
Lush to the sparkling toothpaste from Nathalie Van Durme

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Presentation at Rubin and son.
Presentation at Rubin and son

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Masterclass, 2012, students Theo Smeets and Hilde Van der Heyden.
Masterclass, 2012, students Theo Smeets and Hilde Van der Heyden

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Appreciate APPRECIATE