Interview with Märta Mattsson

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 28.08.2012
Interview with Märta Mattsson.
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My advice is to try and learn what advice to listen to and not and to search for your own answers to why you have decided to work in a certain way or with a material. One material or a subject has got thousands of different possibilities so you just have to find your own way of working with it.
Do you think that jewellery is being standardized?
I would not go as far as saying that contemporary jewellery is being standardized, but I do think it is important for students as well as professional jewellers to try and find their own methods of working and their own voices. There are some very definite ‘trends’ in materials and techniques in the contemporary jewellery field and I think this is not so good but inevitable. Sometimes students are influenced a little bit too much by what they see or by a strong professor. My advice is to try and learn what advice to listen to and not and to search for your own answers to why you have decided to work in a certain way or with a material. One material or a subject has got thousands of different possibilities so you just have to find your own way of working with it.

What is there of local and universal in your artistic work?
I grew up as a typical Swede, very close to nature. My mother’s eye for seeing beauty in unconventional matter has influenced the way that I view the world. She would bring in things like deer skulls, dead butterflies and snakeskin that she found in the woods into our home and present them as beautiful objects in our house. So I grew up with dead matter presented to me as objects worthy of admiration. Although sometimes her treasures from nature have caused our family some inconveniences... Like the time when we were in Mauritius and she found an old birds nest and brought it into our bungalow. After returning from dinner that night we discovered that what she really had brought in was not only a birds nest but also an ants nest. The whole bungalow was covered with tiny black ants. But I guess that is just the thing that is so fascinating with nature. Its wild and untamable and an endless source of inspiration. So I would say that I am influenced by local factors but my fascination for nature and the cycle of life and death is universal and shared by most of the people on this earth. 

What do you expect when exposing your work to the public (for example with an exhibition)?
My work tends to bring out a lot of questions and curiosity in people. I enjoy watching people inspect my work. I like that second when they start to realize that my pieces are actually made from real animals. They lean in closer to investigate and I can see that they are trying to figure out what they are looking at. I want my pieces to evoke wonder so for me seeing people interact with my work and the discussion that follows is a very important part of my process. I don’t make my pieces for any kind of ‘shock value’. They are being made to tickle people’s curiosity.

Are other areas besides the jewellery, present in your work?
My interest in biology and psychology is quite prominent in my pieces. When I was a child I wanted to become a biologist but when I realized that I could not face dissecting the eye ball of a sheep in science class I had to re-think my career options a bit. Both biology and art have always been very close to my heart. Now as a grown up I have finally found a way of working with my two big interests and my curiosity. I work with materials that I am repulsed by. My goal with making my pieces is to turn my perception on certain materials and things. I try to make the things that I don’t like into things that I could find beautiful or interesting. It is like cognitive behavioral therapy treatment for phobias when you expose yourself to your fear in order to get over it. 

The last work, book, film, that has moved me was...
Two days ago I watched the film ‘American History X’. I have seen it before but it is that kind of movie that will always move me and make me cry. I am a bit obsessed with listening to documentaries on the radio, reading autobiography books and to hearing people tell their life stories.

A place, space, country whose creativity surprises me...
Human behavior both surprises, scares and inspires me.

is there any designer, jeweller, artist, you appreciate a lot?
There are many jewelers, designers and artists that I admire deeply for their different processes, aesthetics and concepts. One of my absolute favorite pieces of art is a photo by American artist Catherine Chalmers. It’s a photo from a series she did named, Imposters. The photo is of a group of cockroaches that have been painted to look like ladybirds. She is playing with our perception and prejudice by turning one of our most hated and despised insects into one of our most beloved and cutest ones. I think it is such a simple but perfect example of how interesting but strange human behavior really is.

What piece or work has given you the most satisfaction?
I think it is my piece ‘Beetle juice’. It was the first piece in my series ‘Rebirth’. In the piece I have replaced what I find the most disgusting about insects, the yellow slime inside, with yellow cubic zirconias. My goal with the piece was to turn something that I found disgusting into something beautiful and intriguing. I wanted to get people to look closer and investigate something that we would not normally want to look at. During the last 3 years I have been working on developing this series with many different pieces made from insects and skin. I am continuously trying to explore new ways of tickling my own and also other people’s fascination for materials and subjects that hold the power of being both appealing and repelling. Attraction and repulsion are two opposites emotions but they are very closely related.
Märta Mattsson. Brooch: Beetle Juice, 2009. Beetle, resin, yellow cubic zirconias, silver, lacquer. Märta Mattsson
Brooch: Beetle Juice, 2009
Beetle, resin, yellow cubic zirconias, silver, lacquer
© By the author. Read Copyright.
. Catherine Chalmers
. Photography from the series Imposters
. .
Catherine Chalmers
Photography from the series Imposters

© By the author. Read Copyright.