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Gemma Draper, Transforming Matter

Blog post
Published: 18.06.2012


Gemma Draper moved a few months ago to a new studio, still in Barcelona. From the Raval district she moved to the Eixample, where she continues with her project, La Germinal, teaching courses and organizing conferences and other activities related to creativity.

Outside it's raining. Seated facing one each other, I enjoy her explanations which I rush to catch taking notes. Her speech is intense and deep, so sometimes I have to stop. Observing everything around me I hear her tell me that space tends to adapt to one’s time there, while also conditioning you: the space is ambivalent.

Two photographs by Gemma showing the look of her workshop.

Besides an MFA, Gemma has a B.A. in Philosophy, but even before graduating she felt the need to do things with her hands, experimenting with materials to shape her theoretical arguments. "Dipping in the action of transforming matter includes a reaction that also drives you away from what is around since transforming what you have in your hands is a very intimate act" she says.

She remembers her father, a skilled goldsmith, washing his hands twice when he came back home after work. This routine made her aware that jewelry is not just about what shines but is also linked to dirt and some of her works are motivated by this thought. Once again the struggle is between the opposites of Heraclitus of Ephesus.

A word or a concept is usually the starting point and she uses drawing as a tool to enter a different mental space serving to explore the drives of her ego, a introspection as proposed by the Greek philosophers, "First, one must know oneself."

When we talk about materials she immediately replies: "All and none. There are moments when you have to surrender to what the material imposes, its physical laws, and it becomes the boss." In addition, and referring to tools and techniques, she states that the more basic they are, the more powerful they result, for instance, a hammer and a piece of iron plate. "You are the one who hammers, along with those who hammered and did the same before you; the technique lets you create while limiting you, sometimes it directs you." She shows me her most prized tool: an old knife.

Three more images by Gemma from her intimate and warm workshop.

Her references keep changing: she reads poetry and essays, Perejaume, Walter Benjamin, John Berger... She names the painter Agnes Martin, the conceptual artist Àngels Ribé and she asks me not to forget the presence of music. She listens to vinyl records and loves those sounds of old voices.

Gemma Draper is working on several coming exhibitions. In September she will present her new work in the gallery Ornamentum. She has been selected for the European Applied Art Prize, to be awarded this July. Her work will be seen at MIMA, UK, during the summer, in the Metadomestic exhibition, and this coming Fall she has been invited to the exhibition Kindred Spirits in Imatra, Finland, on the occasion of KORU4, and to the 6th Tallinn Applied Art Triennial, in Estonia.

Limbo Days (September 2011)

Limbo days versus found in translation.

Where a piece, or a series of works, is born? From where do they arise? Where do they belong to? If we don’t follow the birth metaphor to illuminate the fact of rising or appearing, if we don’t stick to the character of the demiurge ... what other image can help us to illustrate what happens too when a creation work happens? There is something that was not there and then later, something appears. Something that is, be it something radically new or be it something rebuilt, reorganized. Is it relevant to ask: where? What is now here is just because it sucks the sap and metabolizes a locus? Or else, this is here simply because the circumstances were propitious, because it found the exit door, the perfect combination of chances and possibilities to finally solemnly break the thin dyed sugar and raise its arms gracefully giving meaning to the cake, to the bustling room, to the neighborhood and to the city and its blinking lights, boasting the chances of good news?

As the poet says, we are all ultra-local, but there is that who conceals it better

Gemma Draper. 2011.

Ld1. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, 9ct gold.

Ld3. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, paint, 9 ct gold.

Ld6. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, agathe stone, paint, 9 ct gold.

Ld8. 2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone,paint, wood, 9 ct gold.

Ld9.2011. Brooch. Reconstructed stone, paint, wood, china, 9 ct gold.

You can find more information on her website, on her Klimt02 page and on Mar de Color Rosa website.

***Visit Mar de Color Rosa by Montserrat Lacomba


About the author

Montserrat Lacomba holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree The University of Barcelona in 1982. She has been creating jewelry since 2000 has been editing the Mar de Color Rosa blog since January 2008.

About this blog

Artists at the Studio is dedicated to introducing artists who are interviewed during visits to their workspace. It is a section of Mar de Color Rosa, a visual language blog focused on contemporary jewelry, including opinion, art, design, photography, curiosities.