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You have to stay true to your roots. Chequita Nahar interviewed by Nina Gassauer

Interview
Published: 03.01.2020
Chequita Nahar, photo by Elyane Van Coillie. Chequita Nahar, photo by Elyane Van Coillie.
Author:
Nina Gassauer
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2020
Chequita Nahar. Piece: Untitled, 1998. Flax, eggshell, rubber.. L: 48 cm. Awarded at: Talente 1998. Chequita Nahar
Piece: Untitled, 1998
Flax, eggshell, rubber.
L: 48 cm
Awarded at: Talente 1998
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
The Dutch female artist Chequita Nahar is known far beyond the borders of her country as an excellent connoisseur of the worldwide jewellery industry. In her role as the curator for SCHMUCK 2020, she selected the participants for the special exhibition at the Internationale Handwerksmesse. We talked to the artist about the role of her mentor, the famous Dutch art historian and jewellery expert, Marjan Unger, within the selection, the importance of the special exhibition for the scene, and the outstanding role of the city of Munich.
 
Ms Nahar, you have been chosen as the curator for the SCHMUCK 2020, the special exhibition at the Internationale Handwerksmesse in Munich. What does that mean to you?
I was first introduced to SCHMUCK back in 1998 by Marjan Unger, my mentor who passed away last year. She taught me a lot about the field of jewellery, about design, a broad perspective – and about the significance of SCHMUCK. So, when I received the call from Munich, I felt numb for a second, but, of course, deeply honoured to get the chance to do this. I told myself that being the curator for SCHMUCK could be my tribute to Marjan and our last conversations in which we spoke about where jewellery could go, what it should be, and what it could possibly mean.
I made it my aim to transfer the things we spoke about when Marjan's life ended into the upcoming collection. The idea was that the pieces must touch you in a way; they must touch you through form, idea, colour, material, through how they are made or with the crazy things they express, not for the fact of being crazy, but for craziness on purpose. They must raise questions. Make us rethink what we are doing and where we are.
 

The SCHMUCK has continually been a starting point for new trends in the field of contemporary artist's jewellery. What trends can be observed this year?
It seems that the current world around us is influencing especially the young ones. They are searching. They are touching on technological aspects, innovation, cultural diversity, but they don't dare to go deeper. Besides, I saw that they are in search of their own process, which resulted in very individual works. In the past, an artist’s work would show where he or she is from. This is seen less and less. And therefore, the pieces are much more about integrated ideas and thoughts from all over. Sometimes it was a bit much in one piece. The established artists, of course, already have their own rhythm and their own way of creating, so I saw them reviving themselves. And I saw a lot of animals, which made me think: What is it about animals? Do they say something about the present moment? A lot of the applicants are going back to creating, so there is an emphasis on craft and on how things are put together. But all in all, individuality is what the selection is about. As jewellery is connected to emotions, to people and to individual persons, I loved to see so many individual approaches amongst the applicants.
 
 
You are the dean of the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts & Design and you also teach there. What makes working and lecturing in this institution so tempting to you?
I want to give back to students what I've learned along my journey: In Maastricht, we teach a broad perspective about what jewellery is. It’s about contemporary jewellery, about fashion jewellery, about fine jewellery and about all the different contexts there are within jewellery. If you do not have a broad perspective in this field, you simply miss out. In Maastricht, there is also still the feeling for craft. An approach that I defend with everything I am, since crafting and creating is paramount. The geographical position is also special about Maastricht: It´s in the south of the Netherlands, close to Germany, close to Belgium, so you have a variety of influences.
 
 
You originally hail from Suriname but were trained as an art designer in the Netherlands. Is there a direct link between your jewellery creations and your country of origin?
Yes, there always is. I use substances as well as forms, but for the most part, it's the symbolism of Suriname that I process in my work. We use things for rituals, for example, balls for washing and protecting our jewellery as it is said that the jewellery we wear will help us in sickness, in health, and during all kinds of life circumstances. This way of cultural symbolism always resonates with me. I translate this symbolism or ritual into tools or forms. When I use a material like silver with its white colour, it always points back to the way we interpret it in Suriname. I often reflect upon that with my grandmother. When I create a new piece, I show it to her and she often says: Ah, you made a new …, and then she tells me the word for this old, traditional thing and I suddenly see the connection.
 

What helped you in the process of finding your own way of creating?
When I first met Marjan Unger many years ago in the context of my master's degree, I was totally stuck. I had an artist's block and I was desperate to make really authentic artistic jewellery. One day, Marjan came over to my house and saw all the pictures of Suriname, all the things I had from there and all the jewellery. She called me into my bedroom and she said: This is what you should do! This is where your starting point is! In the following months, I created a piece which was then selected for TALENTE 1998, another special exhibition focused on young artists, also taking place in Munich. Later on, I took that piece with me to Suriname where my grandfather still lives. He hung it up in his tree in the courtyard, saying: Oh, you brought it home again. And ever since then, I have stayed with my roots. It's always my guiding light and I still see the pictures of my grandfather standing in the courtyard and Marjan saying: You have to stay true to your roots. That was the starting point for following my heart and letting go of all the thoughts about how things should be. And that was the beginning of me doing my thing.
 
 
Robert Baines is this year's Classic of Modernism at SCHMUCK and is thus honoured as an outstanding jewellery designer in the retrospective. What significance does he have for you?
Every time I talk to my students about technical layers, Robert Baines always comes up. I'm always mesmerised by the stories Baines tells. With his words and his work - and how he combines historical backgrounds and interpretations into it. The way he is able to make pieces is mind-blowing. I constantly look at his work and ask myself: How does he do this? His craftsmanship is great - you can love his pieces or you can hate them, but you can't deny the fact that he is extraordinarily skilled. Baines knows what he is doing and where he comes from, and that can be seen in his work. And that's what I tried to find in the collection for SCHMUCK 2020: I looked for people who have skills on many different levels. For me, that's a very beautiful connection to Robert Baines.
 
 
Munich is regarded worldwide as the centre of artist's jewellery. What are you particularly looking forward to when travelling to Munich from 11 to 15 March 2020 for SCHMUCK 2020?
Of course, I am looking forward to seeing the entire collection exhibited in one place. For the jewellery scene, Munich is the place where everyone comes together: museums, collectors, young talents, the established artists. It’s like a get together of this whole industry in one moment and one place and it's continually growing and getting more interesting for other disciplines, as well. For this one week, if you are in artist's jewellery, it's your place because so many things are happening: discussions, talks, lectures, the presentation of new works, some new talents are literally born here. And, of course, I'm excited to meet all these special talents!
 
 
About Handwerk & Design:
As part of the Internationale Handwerksmesse, the Handwerk & Design arose in 2008. The idea behind it was to combine outstanding performances in crafts, art handicrafts and design at the Internationale Handwerksmesse. During the Internationale Handwerksmesse, everything is about the incorporation of craftsmanship and good design in hall B1 on the Fairground Messe München. The «Handwerk & Design» is made up of numerous special shows such as EXEMPLA, SCHMUCK, TALENTE or MEISTER DER MODERNE. You can find further information at www.ihm-handwerk-design.com.
 

About the Interviewee

Chequita Nahar was educated at the Academy of Visual Arts in Maastricht (1992-1996) and subsequently at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam (1996-1998). Nahar uses materials such as rope, gold, silver and rubber in her work. In 2000 she received the Herbert Hofmann-Preis. She is Dean of the Maastricht Academy of Fine Arts and Design since 2013.
 

About the author

Nina Gassauer lives and works in Munich. The business economist and journalist with an international career coordinates the PR department at the Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen (GHM) and communicates for Handwerk & Design. For the 33-year-old, craftsmanship is a well-known terrain, on which she completed her dual degree in business administration in 2008. In the meantime, Gassauer lived and worked as a trainee in Hong Kong, where she subsequently worked for several years as a communication director for a publishing house before moving to Seoul, South Korea. Back in Germany, she first communicated in the press and public relations department of the Federal Office of the German Alpine Association before returning to GHM and thus the sector of craftsmanship.
 
Chequita Nahar. Pendant: Untitled, 1999. Silver, rubber, flax, garnets.. 7.5 x 5 cm. Awarded at: Herbert Hofmann Prize 2000. Chequita Nahar
Pendant: Untitled, 1999
Silver, rubber, flax, garnets.
7.5 x 5 cm
Awarded at: Herbert Hofmann Prize 2000
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Chequita Nahar. Piece: Obia, 2018. Silver, flax.. 70 x 21 x 2 cm. Photo by: Chequita Nahar. From series: Prodo Gudu. Chequita Nahar
Piece: Obia, 2018
Silver, flax.
70 x 21 x 2 cm
Photo by: Chequita Nahar
From series: Prodo Gudu
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Chequita Nahar. Brooch: Angisa, 2018. Cotton, silver.. 12 x 13.5 x 10 cm. Photo by: Chequita Nahar. From series: Prodo Gudu. Chequita Nahar
Brooch: Angisa, 2018
Cotton, silver.
12 x 13.5 x 10 cm
Photo by: Chequita Nahar
From series: Prodo Gudu
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Chequita Nahar. Brooch: Matti, 2018. Silver.. 22 x 22 x 19 cm. Photo by: Chequita Nahar. From series: Prodo Gudu. Chequita Nahar
Brooch: Matti, 2018
Silver.
22 x 22 x 19 cm
Photo by: Chequita Nahar
From series: Prodo Gudu
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Elwy Schutten. Brooch: Fabric or boxes, 2019. Silver, wood, alabaster.. 5 x 7.5 x 1 cm. Photo by: Elwy Schutten. From series: Do we impose our identity to clothing, or are the clothes we wear imposing their identity to us?. Elwy Schutten
Brooch: Fabric or boxes, 2019
Silver, wood, alabaster.
5 x 7.5 x 1 cm
Photo by: Elwy Schutten
From series: Do we impose our identity to clothing, or are the clothes we wear imposing their identity to us?
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Ruudt Peters. Brooch: Ssanie, 2018. Silver gold-plated, amber.. From series: Suctus. Ruudt Peters
Brooch: Ssanie, 2018
Silver gold-plated, amber.
From series: Suctus
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Gabriella Goldsmith. Head Piece: Eyes, 2018. Yarn, beads, latex.. Gabriella Goldsmith
Head Piece: Eyes, 2018
Yarn, beads, latex.
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
Adie Paul. Ring: Hoam, 2019. Cast aluminium, silver insert, paint.. Adie Paul
Ring: Hoam, 2019
Cast aluminium, silver insert, paint.
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Veronika Fábián. Necklace: Big Link Chain, 2018. Gold plated brass.. 20 x 30 x 4 cm. Photo by: Veronika Fábián. Veronika Fábián
Necklace: Big Link Chain, 2018
Gold plated brass.
20 x 30 x 4 cm
Photo by: Veronika Fábián
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Donna Brennan. Brooch: Hortus Conclusus, 2019. Blackened 925 Silver, gem.. Donna Brennan
Brooch: Hortus Conclusus, 2019
Blackened 925 Silver, gem.
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Helen Britton. Pendant: Keys, 2019. Antique and vintage stone, silver, silk.. Photo by: Dirk Eisel. Helen Britton
Pendant: Keys, 2019
Antique and vintage stone, silver, silk.
Photo by: Dirk Eisel
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Gisbert Stach. Brooch: Smuggler - Mercedes-Benz Unimog Yellow, 2017. Baltic amber, matchbox car, steel wire, adhesive.. 2.5 x 7 x 1.8 cm. From series: Smuggler. Gisbert Stach
Brooch: Smuggler - Mercedes-Benz Unimog Yellow, 2017
Baltic amber, matchbox car, steel wire, adhesive.
2.5 x 7 x 1.8 cm
From series: Smuggler
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Tota Reciclados. Neckpiece: WellsGardner, 2019. Found material, bronze, alpaca wire.. 65 x 21 cm. Photo by: Damian Wasser. From series: Estrash. Tota Reciclados
Neckpiece: WellsGardner, 2019
Found material, bronze, alpaca wire.
65 x 21 cm
Photo by: Damian Wasser
From series: Estrash
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Coco Sung. Brooch: Vasopressin, 2019. Brass, copper, thread, rack, colorful wire, pearl, glass beads.. 27 x 11 x 5 cm. Photo by: Coco Sung. Coco Sung
Brooch: Vasopressin, 2019
Brass, copper, thread, rack, colorful wire, pearl, glass beads.
27 x 11 x 5 cm
Photo by: Coco Sung
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Rebekah Frank. Necklace: Necklace 1, 2019. Steel, 14kt gold.. 30 x 30 x 0.3 cm. Photo by: Lydia Daniller. From series: just add flesh. Model Pamela Zed.. Rebekah Frank
Necklace: Necklace 1, 2019
Steel, 14kt gold.
30 x 30 x 0.3 cm
Photo by: Lydia Daniller
From series: just add flesh
Model Pamela Zed.

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Mária Hriešik Nepšinská. Necklace: In focus, 2019. LP record, newspaper, nail polish, brass, patina.. 50 x 10.5 x 0.5 cm. Photo by: Peter Ančic. From series: Like a Broken Record. Mária Hriešik Nepšinská
Necklace: In focus, 2019
LP record, newspaper, nail polish, brass, patina.
50 x 10.5 x 0.5 cm
Photo by: Peter Ančic
From series: Like a Broken Record
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