Mindful Musings, Christine Dwane interviewed by 18Karat Studio + Gallery

Interview  /  Artists   18KaratStudio+Gallery
Published: 06.05.2019
Christine Dwane Christine Dwane
18Karat Studio + Gallery
Edited by:
Alta Cain
Edited at:
Edited on:
Christine Dwane. Necklace: Spring festival beads, 2019. Aluminium foil (repurposed candy wrappers), imitation turquoise, sterling silver.. Total length 46 cm. Beads: 1-1.4 cm diameter. Photo by: John Kane. From series: Spring festival beads. Christine Dwane
Necklace: Spring festival beads, 2019
Aluminium foil (repurposed candy wrappers), imitation turquoise, sterling silver.
Total length 46 cm. Beads: 1-1.4 cm diameter
Photo by: John Kane
From series: Spring festival beads
© By the author. Read Copyright.

PRECIOUS is an exhibition that asks us to look at the ways in which we covet and desire some things and discard others; the luxurious materials we revere versus those we so easily dispose of. Christine Dwane explores the use of unconventional materials in response to increasing ecological and environmental urgency, using upcycled materials such as plastic wrappers and milk tags.
Q: What is your origin story, what do you think sparked your creativity?
A: My father was a doctor and my mother was a teacher but both were makers. My father worked with mostly wood, making a lamp, shelves, a rocking-horse, our impressive deck... and my mother created all kinds of things from rice-paper lamp shades, quilted blankets, clothes, knitted and crocheted items to painted murals in our bedrooms. I was brought up watching my parents form ideas about what they wanted and needed in the house and then make them real.

Q: How did your journey as an artist and a jeweller begin?
A: When I was a child, my mother had a friend, Danielle Aird who was married to a goldsmith Neil Aird. We visited his shop in downtown Kingston where I grew up. It was jewellery like I had never seen before, with modern completely non-traditional shapes and composition. I had never known that this type of jewellery could exist; it intrigued me. By the time I was a teenager I was looking for an extra-curricular activity and again, through Neil Aird, I knew that a jewellery course was offered at a nearby college. This was my first experience with metal. Although I didn't fall in love with it at that time, when I came back to it in my early twenties I was ready to take the plunge and was hooked for life!

Work in process, Transforming milk tags for the Breakfast collection. Photo by artist.

Q: Why do you think jewellery as a creative medium or means of expression, is an important or relevant one? How does jewellery, in your opinion, differ from other creative forms of expression?
A: Mediums that are worn on the body seem more personal to me and have a lot to do with self-expression and identity. I see jewellery as a medium that reflects the different facets of ourselves. there is something in the durability of metals and stones that make this art form unique. it can be wrapped up in cultural ideals and prestige but can also address completely other types of discussion when used outside of a conventional context. it is incredibly versatile. the way it is embedded in the cultural evolution of humans leads me to believe that it addresses a primal need of self-expression.

Breakfast collection necklace, 2019. Material: Plastic (repurposed milk tags), acrylic. Size: total length 45 cm. Photo by John Kane.
Breakfast collection earrings, 2019. Material: Acrylic, titanium. Size: 2 x 0.5 x 2 cm. Photo by John Kane.

Q: Please explain your creative process, how does a piece of jewellery begin and end for you?
A: Sometimes I lie in bed not fully awake, letting my mind wander, musing. It is at these times that I have spontaneous ideas come into my mind that I can use as a starting point to a piece or collection. Other times it may be in everyday life that I come across an object that piques my interest in its design that may inspire a composition. Other times I will come across materials that intrigue me and I want to explore what I can do with them and how I can apply them to wearable pieces. Materials give me a starting point on a path that can follow with a lot of spontaneity, it’s fun and sometimes playful as an exercise.

Q: Where do you find inspiration as an artist?
A: All around me, in the design of cars, architecture, furniture, but also in plants, trees, geological formations... shapes and composition are everywhere. I especially like functional design, objects that are created to use. I find it very interesting what humans create to have around them, the objects they use as tools to help them do something, like cook or light a room. It is interesting to see the things you surround yourself with to see what they tell you about yourself.

Q: What other artists inspire you?
A: In the repetitive elements that form texture and movement in Jeanne Opgenhaffen's work and in the simple but striking design of David Huycke's pieces. David also uses repetition to create form and texture in a very effective way. An-Fen-Kuo has a wonderful use of colour in her organic shapes that invoke a natural attraction to plants and vegetation and I love the up-cycling by Cedric Chevalley with his use of skateboards; the patterns and colour are put on full display with large surface elemental bracelet design.

Precious things from the land and sea necklace, 2019. Material: Aluminium foil (repurposed candy wrappers), 18k yellow gold, dyed freshwater pearls, diamonds. Size: Total length 46 cm. Beads: 0.9-1.6 cm diameter. Photo by: John Kane.

Q: Looking back from your career now, to when you first began - how would you best describe your evolution so far?
A: I started naturally limited as a student knowing only silver as a material. Of course, all of the exercises in school were to get to know the material in what it can do with the basic techniques of jewellery making. But when trying to make an impressive piece I would make the mistake of adding more elements and more detail which would make for a bulky overbearing piece. I have since explored other materials and their limits as wearable art. I have situated myself in my expression through composition and choice of materials to create an identifiable look. If I call this my voice, I would have to say that my work now has much more simplicity to its composition, a piece doesn't have to be complicated to be effective or for the design to feel right and create an impact. I like the saying that "less is more". I hope this is reflected in my work.

Q: What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learnt and what advice would you give to artists who are just beginning?
A: Look for your voice, your expression, your look. Don't try too hard. Get to know your creative process by trial and observation, let it flow and watch. Have fun and explore different paths, let your process evolve and when you get to a practice that works for you, you can feel that it is right, you recognize a good fit.

Q: What do you hope those who view your work or wear it, take away from that experience?
A: Playful enjoyment of the different materials, if someone connects and falls in love with a piece it is precious to them no matter what it is made of. It is possible to have a piece made from ecologically responsible materials (in most part... pearls are questionable) and have a precious piece of jewellery with metals that are recycled (95%), synthetic diamonds and upcycled aluminium foil.

Open C’s Necklace, 2019. Material: Enamel on plastic (repurposed milk tags), 18k yellow gold. Size: total length 46 cm. Photo by artist.

Q: Through this exhibition, PRECIOUS, we are asking the question, why do we value some things and so easily dispose of others - an important question when we consider the state of our environment. What role does the environment, consumption or consumerism play in the work you have created?
A: With all stones being lab created and reused materials to make the bulk of the beads and links, the jewellery I have created is very eco-conscious. The environment and consumption in our society play a major role in the creation of my work.

Q: How do you think we can reconcile the need to create from within an industry that has traditionally relied solely on resource extraction and mining? What role does the environment play, specifically our responsibility as artists to it?
A: To imagine and create other ways of using and reusing what we have already to create new works. These ideas and attitude toward reusing resources spill over into mainstream culture. We are at the bow of new ideas pushing them forward into our society.

Open C’s Necklace, 2014. Material: Enamel on plastic (repurposed milk tags), 18k yellow gold. Size: Total length 46 cm. Photo by John Kane.
Open C’s Earrings, 2019. Material: 14k yellow gold. Size: 0.8 x 0.8 cm. Photo by John Kane.


About the Interviewee

Born in Montreal in 1969, Christine Dwane shares her time between her gemmological teaching (FGA) and her jewellery making. After her studies at l’École de joaillerie et de métaux d’art de Montréal, she apprenticed with Robert Ackerman to perfect her knowledge of goldsmithing. The Suisse-German jeweller rapidly entrusts her with the making of gold and platinum one of a kind pieces that require great precision and rigor. Now well established in her own career, Christine makes custom orders from her studio for her clientele as well as for some selected galleries. Since 2000, Christine Dwane has taught gemmology at L’Ecole de gemmologie de Montreal as well as jewellery making in both the collegiate and the continuing education programs at de l'École de joaillerie de Montréal and Ecole des Metiers Sud-Ouest de Montreal. Some of her distinctions include being published in the reputable fashion magazine Elle Quebec. She won the design contest to create the insignia for l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. Artists such as Denis Villeneuve, Oliver Jones and Guy Laliberte have received the recognition of this award. Also in 2016, Christine was awarded the Niche prize “educator of the year” and was chosen to participate as a resident artist at the University of Nanjing in China where she taught a variety of new techniques to masters students in the jewellery program. Together, they collaborated on an exhibition that was presented at the Municipal Museum of Nanjing.

About the author

I believe that artists are far more than the art they create or the tools they use - they are creative problem solvers who by their very desire to create, challenge the status quo. They create because some part of them, hidden or otherwise, imagines the world differently; they percieve a reality that is beyond what already exists. It is this perception, this imagination or sixth sense that I believe is at the root of our creativity - this drive to create - and the more we discuss and explore it together, the better we will be able to understand ourselves.
/ Alta Cain
Alta Cain is our exhibition curator, as well as an artist and digital broadcaster. She is interested in exploring the ways in which technology can be used to build creative communities, connecting artists and their art with an audience that is not limited to geographical space. With the potential for their art to seen and their voices heard, she is also interested in understanding the ways in which the role of the artist is shaped and changed within the digital age. She is also the writer and producer of the podcast - The Fear that Lurks - a montly podcast that explores the things we fear most, from myth to mass hysteria.
Her work can be found at:
1) podcast - The Fear that Lurks
3) Instagram