Artemis Valsamaki interviewed by Marietta Kontogianni

Published: 19.10.2017
Marietta Kontogianni & Artemis Valsamaki Marietta Kontogianni & Artemis Valsamaki
Marietta Kontogianni
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Conversation with Artemis, the winner of 2016 The After Joya Effect III. Exploring more of her large colourful sculptures, a visualization of her thoughts, wearable story and the way she communicates.

Ελληνική έκδοση - Greek version      View / hide description

The jewelry designer Artemis Valsamaki, won in 2016 the Public Award at the exhibition "The After Joya Effect III" at Popeye loves Olive - Art Space during the 1st Athens Jewelry Week.

The After Joya Effect” is a contemporary jewelry group exhibition organised annually by Erato Kouloubi, founder of Popey Loves Olive, a little bit after each years Joya Barcelona Art Jewelry Fair, with works from selected participants of Joya.

Artemis Valsamaki award was a solo exhibition for the first time in Greece, set up by the gallery in April 2017, called "Under the surface". Later on, on October 2017 the artist showed most of the works of her Athenian exhibition in Joya. These works were part of the “Myth Series IV”. 

Artemis' one of a kind works are large colourful pieces that look more like sculptured metal objects, or adults’ toys, rather than jewelry, and each of them has a story to tell. She draws her inspiration “from the human relationship, dreams, Greek mythology, reality and fantasy and whatever hides an emotional power”. Her intention is “to create a visual, narrative story to be worn".

Amulet, brooch - Copper, silver, acrylic, 2017, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.

Your jewelry seems like figures that come from an imaginative world, but in the main time are so down-to-earth. Would you like to describe me this world of yours from which you get inspired?
I don’t know if I can give a correct definition to this world. All I can say is that as a person I like to think a lot about and to analyze whatever interests me. For that reason, I decided to visualize my thoughts and to communicate them through my work. Dreams, human nature, instincts, proverbs, myths, fairy tales and so many other things to mention a few, are valuable for me and that’s why I am interested in transmitting them to the real world.

What is the process of your work?
All begin with the message I want to communicate through my work. Nothing is done by chance. If I don’t have anything to say I prefer to let time go until what I want to say comes out naturally. Then my thought becomes a design. Sometimes I create mockups before I start working with the metal. When I finish with all the metalworking, the soldering and the finishing of the metal, I do the painting, the polishing and, the most important above all, the join of the pieces together which sometimes turn to be very time-consuming.

What? - Copper, silver, acrylic, 2016, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
You hear but you don’t listen. Poor communication!

What materials do you use the most?
I use mainly copper, more than I use bronze and silver. Bronze for me is a very noble metal.

Your jewelry is multicolored always painted in bold colors. What color means to you?  
Color is the most important part of my work. The absence of color makes me feel anxious. The presence of color is life. Each color has its own symbolism which related to the theme on which is based each of my jewelry series.

Ofis, ring - Copper, silver, acrylic colour, 2016, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
“Ofis” is an ancient Greek word for “snake”.
“Office” is an English word for an area where work is done.
language, there are two different words for “work” with two different meanings. “Work” meaning “slavery”. “Work” meaning producing “work”. Sometimes your work can be your venom.

Most of your jewelry pieces come together with a small note written by you, in which you play with words connecting your imaginary world with the real one sending a message to the reader. For example, at the “Ofis” piece note you play with the words “Ofis” and “Office” and at the “Self-fish” piece note you play with the words “Selfish” and “fish”. Please explain me this allegoric word game of yours.
Sometimes the image may be deceptive and cause the viewer to think more so as to understand it in depth. My intention playing with words is to say: “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Self-fish, brooch - Copper, silver, mirror, acrylic, 2016, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
Look at yourself, what do you see?
Lack of empathy is the root of self-centered human being and can be very dangerous especially when they relate to other people.
Egoism is a destructive passion according to Aristotelis but be careful because sometimes the cat eats the fish.

The pieces you create are usually big and look more as small sculptures rather than jewelry. Are they wearable? 
Speaking the truth, my pieces are more like small sculptures to me rather than jewelry. But I like to see them being worn on the body despite the fact that they are big. I can’t give a precise definition of my pieces and say that they are either “small sculptures” or jewelry because the dimension is a subjective matter.

The Moment, neckpiece - Copper, silver, alpaca, hourglass, acrylic, 2017, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
And the moment is gone….

From the pieces that you showed in your "Under the surface" solo exhibition, which is the one you treasure the most or the one that you have a special story to tell about it.
Is the piece called “Moment”. It intrigues me a lot because it has to do with time which is a concern for all humanity. Time is untouched and unspoiled. It has never been possible for anyone to interfere in time (at least up to now). Time is cruel but real and defines our existence on Earth. All we have to do is to accept it and respect it.

Hypnagogia, brooch - copper, silver, acrylic, 2016, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
The transition into sleeping phase. The sensation of the body leaving consciousness and entering the world of dreams. This transition is often accompanied by a hypnagogic spasm.

The public award you won in 2016 for your piece “Hypnagogia” in the exhibition "The After Joya Effect III", was the first in you career. What did this award mean to you?
It surprised me and it made me really happy. I want to thank the public that voted for me. Also, I want to thank Erato Kouloubi and her art gallery for organizing this annual exhibition with works of contemporary jewelry artists who participate in Joya in Barcelona, giving them the opportunity to show their work in Greece as well.

We come in peace, brooch - Copper, silver, glass, flock, acrylic colour, 2017, photo by Alexis Kamitsos.
That is a lie. We never come in peace.

It’s all a matter of perspective, brooch - Ccopper, silver, acrylic colour, glass, 2017, photo by Marietta Kontogianni
Master your mind to focus on the bright side. Everything is possible

This is one of my favourite pieces of Artemis Valsamaki works for what it symbolizes: the bright side of life.

About the Interviewee

Artemis Valsamaki (1978) was born in Athens Greece where she obtained her studies and graduated initially as a Graphic designer in 1999 at Vakalo School of Art and Design. Later on, she pursued her studies as a Silversmith specialized in handmade and industrial jewellery at Mokume Silversmithing and Jewelry design school. In 2005 she has set up her studio in Athens. Ever since she has been active in the jewelry field and participated in exhibitions in Greece and abroad.


About the author

Marietta Kontogianni is a Greek journalist based in Athens.
In April 2016 she founded JEWELRYbox Magazine on Facebook that aims to network with the people involved in the jewelry world. She has been working as a journalist for more than 20 years in newspapers, magazines and TV channels. Meanwhile, she had been creating fashion beaded jewelry herself. When the newspaper she was working for since 1995 bankrupted, she decided to found the bilingual (Greek-English) FB magazine
JEWELRYbox to keep on working as a journalist and to express her passion for jewelry.
Up to now, she interviewed almost all of the prominent artists that showed their works in Athens and attended all the lectures given by the renowned artists/ gallerists, curators in Athens since 2016.
Moreover, her
JEWELRYbox Magazine was a media sponsor of both Greek jewelry platforms: A Jewel Made in Greece 2017 and Athens Jewelry Week 2017. Her future plan is to have a website built dedicated mainly to the Greek jewelry world.