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Good or bad those experiences made me the maker I am. Gretal Ferguson interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 06.04.2020
Gretal Ferguson
Gretal Ferguson

Author:
Klimt02
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2020
Gretal Ferguson. Object: Tension Stitch, 2019. Powder-coated copper, silk.. 12.5 x 12.5 x 9 cm. Photo by: Gretal Ferguson. From series: Stitched. Gretal Ferguson
Object: Tension Stitch, 2019
Powder-coated copper, silk.
12.5 x 12.5 x 9 cm
Photo by: Gretal Ferguson
From series: Stitched
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Even though I’m trained in both traditional techniques and computer-aided making, I much prefer to make by hand. My practice is as much about the process as the finished object, the material speaks to you along the way and the final piece can end up being quite different than what I intended, you don’t really get that chance with a computer. I bring technology into my practice more by creating stop-motion videos of my work to help bring the pieces to life. 
What's local and universal in your artistic work?
The themes of my work are quite universal but the way I make is very local. Being a silversmith in Australia means you have to improvise a lot as we don’t have the same access to the craft as in Europe or America. I used to think this was detrimental to my development as a craftsperson but I’ve come to realise that creating contemporary work using traditional silversmithing skills in a country with very little silversmithing tradition can be an advantage to my making. I’m not weighed down by the traditions and rules of the craft, allowing me to explore new ways of working within my discipline.


What do you expect when you show your work to the public (for example, with an exhibition)?
Lots of questions about how it’s made.
 

How important is the handmade for you in your development? What role does technics and technology play in your development?
Even though I’m trained in both traditional techniques and computer-aided making, I much prefer to make by hand. My practice is as much about the process as the finished object, the material speaks to you along the way and the final piece can end up being quite different than what I intended, you don’t really get that chance with a computer. I bring technology into my practice more by creating stop-motion videos of my work to help bring the pieces to life.       


When you start making a new piece what is your process? How much of it is a pre-formulated plan and how much do you let the material spontaneity lead you?
I usually have a pretty good picture or aesthetic in my head when I start a new series, and I do a lot of writing around the concept and techniques. I also try to sketch what I’m thinking but as I’m not a great drawer it’s with varying degrees of success and can actually dilute what I envisage, so I tend to jump into metal pretty quick and see where we end up. I’m generally not a big fan of working out shapes in paper or clay before I start making, but if it’s more complex forming, I’ll carve a model out of wood so I can see where I’m going. I definitely let the material guide me though, I think you miss a lot of interesting developments if you set out to make exactly what you plan.


How important is wearability in contemporary jewellery? And in your pieces?
Wearability is such a broad term in contemporary jewellery and I feel its importance depends on the intent of the artist. For me, wearability can be very important as I often make pieces that are only conceptually or visually complete once they are on the body.


What/who is the biggest influence in your career?
Probably my early teachers in Sydney, I was lucky enough to stumble into a school filled with incredibly knowledgeable and skilled teachers who gave me an insanely comprehensive craft and design education. They challenged and pushed me every day and I know I wouldn’t be the maker I am without them.   


Which piece or job gave you more satisfaction?
I definitely get more excited when I finish silversmithing works than a piece of jewellery. I don’t know if it’s the time and effort that goes into each piece or the fact that I learn something new making almost every object. My favourite two series’ would probably be my MA object/video work Fat Metal, and my current ongoing series Stitched.


What is your source to get information?
Where ever I can find it, people, books, the internet. I am always open to new ways of doing things. I’m lucky enough to have a studio in a craft centre which includes glass blowers, ceramicists, furniture makers, and textile artists. It’s amazing what you can learn about your own medium by talking to other makers and discovering the similarities and differences between your crafts.  


Considering the experiences you have had over the years - if you could go back and give yourself a piece of advice for the start-up phase, what would that be?
Probably just to keep going. I wouldn’t change anything in my making journey, good or bad those experiences made me the maker I am. 
 
Gretal Ferguson. Object: Teetering Tension Stitch, Border Stitch, Cover Stitch, 2019. Powder-coated copper, silver-plated copper, gold-plated copper, silk.. Photo by: Gretal Ferguson. From series: Stitched. Gretal Ferguson
Object: Teetering Tension Stitch, Border Stitch, Cover Stitch, 2019
Powder-coated copper, silver-plated copper, gold-plated copper, silk.
Photo by: Gretal Ferguson
From series: Stitched
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.
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