Off JOYA 2018. Maybe Days: an exhibition review with Estela Sàez

Published: 30.10.2018
Yuxi Sun Yuxi Sun
Yuxi Sun
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Maybe Days is series of jewellery pieces; inspired by the time Estela spent in the Middle East. The pieces are an expression of the memories kept in her mind as of the mystic experiences in post-revolutionary Cairo, and there is a small interview I made with Estela by the end of the review.

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Estela Sàez Vilanova is a Catalan artist and jewellery maker. The exhibition was located at her studio in Barcelona, the studio is based in an industrial building around Pallars. From the area entrance, building entrance to the studio entrance, the Maybe Days poster accompanied us all the way along, crossed the whirly stairs to the exhibition doorstep – Estela’s oasis. The exterior of the industrial building is a bit old and rusty, with a sense of ruin from the end of the industrial revolution.

While we walked into Estela’s exhibition space, another world was presented consciously by Estela to the exhibition visitors —— the whole room from the floor to the table was covered with sand because the origin of these new bodies of work was inspired by spiritual experiences from the desert. We walked on the sand, our footprints left on it, the overlapped footprints imprinted on the sand are the entire marks left in the desert, and they are the reminder of a hopeful life.

Exhibition venue.

Maybe Days is series of jewellery pieces; inspired by the time I spent in the Middle East. The pieces are an expression of the memories kept in my mind as of the mystic experiences in post-revolutionary Cairo. The moon-like landscape, the people, the culture and the specific energy that this part of the world contains, has given me the right inspiration to perform these works. Sterling silver has been textured with Egyptian papyrus, silver as the moon, and Papyrus as the sun; symbolizing the eternal relationship existing between these two.
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stela Saez

While we were visiting the gallery together, Julia Wild explained to us what she thought about the Egyptian papyrus meant for Estela’s work: Papyrus is an old and cultural plant. By establishing the pre-paper making technique, they were able to organize their archives and memories their mythology, religion. Hence, they created a complex social structure. By using papyrus to print the silver, Estela reminds this old culture and history, but also invite visitors to inscribe the new myths, images, hieroglyph on her pieces.

The largest part of Egypt is desert. Only near the rivers, you find green and fertile areas, where the Papyrus plant usually grow. In addition to its importance as a cultivated plant, it has a symbolic meaning of life and renewal.

 Exhibition venue.

In the middle of the room, the table was filled up with jewellery sculptures, and there were a few display boards lying on the table as if they were dividing the sections or separating the landforms. Pieces of jewellery were standing in the sand, when I wanted to put back a ring I was playing with, I had to dig a small hole and bury the ring into the sand, otherwise, it would fall. By doing that, I felt the jewelleries were rooted in the desert. Estela called those jewellery pieces Friends, I personally felt those jewellery sculptures were shaped like tubes or antitank grenade, or the part of tunnel warfare. Some were even like the reduced version of the buildings after the war. Estela paid tribute to the past by re-creating the views from her memories. However, Julia Wild interpreted the collection in another direction, which I also agreed: some of the forms refer to the phallic symbol of a lingam. Covered by sheets of silver, you can see it as both a sign of fertility and creative power, a source of energy, like the sun, the counterpart to the female sign, the moon, but also as something destructive which more and more unbalance the relationships between men and women.

Rings series Maybe Days by Estela Saez.

Apart from the rings, there were other pieces embedded, inserted or covered by Tourmaline, this kind of gemstone always reminds me of a tree or a plant. In the desert, for Estela, Tourmaline represented life, she only used raw stone in her work, as they were the original hope of the life. Even this hope is only like a sand for the whole desert, only a drop for the whole ocean, they are small but meaningful. Cease to hope we cease to leave.

View of the pieces Maybe Days by Estela Saez.

View of the pieces Maybe Days by Estela Saez.

The display table was surrounded by a window, a sofa and two walls.
One of the walls was filled with silhouette picture pendants in black and gold, the inspiration came from the life fragments, which were caught by Estela’s camera from time to time, each pendant was the mixture of memory and feeling she had at that time. The corner, the tower, the street were worn away nowadays, but Estela remade them in her way, which is the continuation of her memories. The views were in black and gold, which were also coming along her frame of mind, the happy shining moment and the depressed mournful moment.

Mymories by Estela Saez, photo by  Estela Saez.

Mymories by Estela Saez, photo by  Estela Saez.

Someone purchased a piece of silhouette picture, it would settle at a new home, but the trace of that piece of memory has still remained on the wall.
The other side of the wall was filled with Estela’s abstract painting and some text, that wall is more close to the entrance, it’s like a starting point of the whole exhibition journey. In the picture frame, it was written: The things I see and I don’t want to see, on the necklace it was written: Today is my silence day, those texts were right next to the silhouette picture wall, they are the tribute Estela paid to the city she used to live, and how she likes to pray for it.

Drawings Maybe Days, exhibition venue.

Today is My silence day by Estela Saez.

The touching part for me about the exhibition Maybe Days is Estela brought the imaginativeness to her life experience, she turned them into different types of work and I felt the emotion behind it.

Wearing the jewellery is not only a fashion act, but it is also a truthful commitment to understanding jewellery, that goes beyond the tangible body.
Estela Saez

Although we don’t know when peace will arrive in the land of Eygpt, we memorize what suffering has been for them, and we appreciate everyone who has contributed. We all look forward to when the white dove will be back to the land.

Interview with Estela Saez:
Q: During your stay in Egypt, what has particularly stuck out to you and inspired you to create this collection? What was the most memorable part? What did you want to pay tribute to?
A: It is the experience as well the sensations I had during my days in the Middle East that has changed the perception of life and work I had until then. The fact of living a new life in such a moonlike and energy wise country while making possible the creation of the first Contemporary Jewellery school in the region has enriched my knowledge to immeasurable levels everlastingly. My most honest tribute it’s to all the people I encountered during my stay with its good and its bad and finally, to its land, and to its unique culture.

Q: What message are you trying to bring through the exhibition and spread to your audience?
A: In fact, I dare to say that it is in my hands no more to bring a special message, rather the message it’s up to people’s perception, although having a clear significance about the work produced, the magic relays in the open understanding to people’s own significance. However, I am addicted to bringing people to uncertain moments…to our Maybe Days that we as creators confront daily during our journey…

Q: Have you reached your goal? Is there any particular feedback you appreciate during the Off JOYA time?
A: I am very satisfied. The feedback was relevant because it was not only spoken but selling wise appreciated, I can not wait to keep on working. As a good friend would say “I want to have as much time as nature and to produce with equal abundance”

Q: What's your next collection about? Are you planning to go back to Egypt?
A: I just finished the Maybe Days series, I can, of course, have a smell of what its next but, let us now enjoy these works after the effort it was needed to make them tangible. Besides, it is time for new adventures and we will see what that future will bring…
As for going back to the land of the Pharaohs, Of course, I am now deeply in Dep't with Egypt; eternally; it brought my sons to life! Moreover, I have there many people that I love and as long as it is possible, I will continue supporting the jewellery scenario in the Country.

Q: Egypt is a historical country, in your opinion, which part has been well reserved/kept/remained? Do you feel the reserved part is positive or negative or both?
A: This is a bit difficult to answer, especially because my opinion is based on only 3 years of expat experience… Egypt has well preserved among others the Pharaohs Heritage but same time has forgotten that cultural and natural preservation its only sustainable with the education of its population. Yet, there are many problematic economic-religious-political issues that do not help in promoting this acculturation. That is why I am afraid things will become arduous in the next period.

Q: If we personate the country Egypt, what kind of person you think Egypt is? (How old, how does Egypt look like?)
A: Egypt is like the moon, it is always there but in different stages, it can bright more or less, it can be fuller or diminishing, but at the end, it is the reason of most of the events occurring in the Arab world that ultimately are effecting Occident. Moon would be the right impersonating while I close my eyes and I think about Egypt.

About the author

Yuxi Sun completed her Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2015. She finshed her Master of Fine Arts in Gemstone and Jewellery at the University of Applied Science Trier, Campus Idar-Oberstein in 2018. Meanwhile, she has been interning at Klimt02 since 2017.