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I Have Noticed an Increased Interest in Contemporary Jewellery in Denmark in Recent Years. Interview with Helen Clara Hemsley by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 01.07.2021
Helen Clara Hemsley Helen Clara Hemsley
Author:
Klimt02
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2021
Helen Clara Hemsley. Necklace: A part of it all, 2021. Fabric, wheel and metal clasps from rollerblades, pattern from walking route, old fabric, protective suit fabric, bias binding, sewing thread, diverse packaging, tea, glitter glue, brass.. 30 x 15 x 0.5 cm. Photo by: Dorte Krogh. Details.. Helen Clara Hemsley
Necklace: A part of it all, 2021
Fabric, wheel and metal clasps from rollerblades, pattern from walking route, old fabric, protective suit fabric, bias binding, sewing thread, diverse packaging, tea, glitter glue, brass.
30 x 15 x 0.5 cm
Photo by: Dorte Krogh

Details.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Technology has up to now not played a prominent role in my practice. My working processes are very low-tech and hands-on. My pieces are always handmade, with the most advanced tools being a saw, a file, a pair of scissors, and sewing needles.
Tell us about your background. What were your first influences to be creative and become an artist and what has drawn you to contemporary jewellery?
I was always a creative child, made my own clothes from an early age, and drew for hours each day, but in my mid-teens, I decided that I wanted to be a social worker, child psychologist, occupational therapist, art therapist but just couldn’t decide to choose one, so went traveling and did loads of odd jobs until finally at 25 I realized that I just had to be a maker and started an art and design foundation course at Oxford Brookes University. It was one of the best years of my life. I then started in the department of embroidered and woven textiles at Glasgow School of Art, but changed to fine art sculpture after the first semester. There I worked with performance and video and made small objects, mostly relating to the body and personal experience. When I graduated I started drawing a lot, worked on interactive projects, and experimented with graphic design and ceramics. I ended up making beads out of leftover porcelain, which I made into bracelets, and out of the blue was asked to design a bracelet for the Danish Cancer Society’s breast cancer campaign. The bracelet sold out in two weeks and made 5 million kroner for the charity. This is how I got into jewellery. I started studying at the Institute for Precious Metals and was introduced to contemporary jewellery there, and discovered that it was the perfect fit as I could combine working with the body and conceptual processes, and tell stories at the same time. 


How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Networking is really important to me, and even more so after I have started curating. I believe that it is important to be in touch with what’s happening in our field and build solid relationships with fellow makers, creative institutions, etc. I prefer physical networking, meeting people at openings and events, but Corona has opened up for other ways of connecting and networking, and there has still been a strong feeling of belonging thanks to Zoom, virtual exhibitions, and increased activity on SoMe. I mainly use Instagram and Klimt02, and Facebook to a lesser extent. I am also a member of the Danish Craft & Design Association and the Copenhagen Goldsmiths’ Guild.
 

Helen Clara Hemsley, Necklace: Alone together, together alone, 2021, ‘Du Jeg’ (‘You Me’) silk scarf, old dish towel, bias binding, cotton fabric, sewing thread, copies of drawing, old headband, press-stud, title of poetry book, dress gloves,cardboard, Tiger’s eyes, story from Maria, 45 x 35 x 0.5 cm, Photo by: Dorte Krogh.


What are your general thoughts on the contemporary jewellery world, (education, market, development...), where do you see chances and where are dead ends?
I think that internationally, the contemporary jewellery world is accessible and in constant development in terms of creating exposure for emerging and established makers, and providing relevant, exciting education possibilities. However, the contemporary jewellery community is still relatively small in Denmark, which hasn’t been helped by the fact that our only creative jewellery school closed a few years ago. The goldsmith community continues to thrive, with the more traditional brands but also the many studio/stores, with a solid focus on craftsmanship, and in some cases goldsmiths who also make contemporary jewellery. I have noticed an increased interest in contemporary jewellery in Denmark in recent years, and am together with other makers/curators in the process of actively promoting and creating opportunities within our field. 
 

Thinking about your career, what role do technology and the digital play in your artistic development & communication?
Technology has up to now not played a prominent role in my practice. My working processes are very low-tech and hands-on. My pieces are always handmade, with the most advanced tools being a saw, a file, a pair of scissors, and sewing needles. The most technical I get is using my computer screen as a ‘light box’ to trace around images, which I then trace onto fabric up on the window. Or working with Photoshop in the most primitive way. I do use technology in terms of social media, and of course Zoom, Teams, Messenger, and so on, to keep in touch and hold meetings with collaborative partners and for teaching purposes.


How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
Although I do still work with fabric and embroidery a lot, I use more found objects in my work at the moment and combine these to create works that still have a strong narrative and conceptual voice. I have started working with goldsmith techniques more regularly and try to incorporate them in my pieces more often, this has been made possible by establishing a very basic little workshop where I can challenge myself in different ways than with the conceptual and textile-based ways of working. I am excited about my continued work with upcycling and the reuse of materials and objects, and that there is always a constant flow of inspiration for new work and projects. My work as a curator provides a wonderful opportunity to create projects with others, as well as keeping me on my toes and up to date with what is happening in the contemporary jewellery world. 
 
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