Interview with Sim Luttin

Interview  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes
Published: 20.05.2015
Interview with Sim Luttin.
Sabela Correa
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I'm trying to find meaning in the world and in little things.

Your work is deliberated monochrome. We saw some of your early Works in which you included some color with plastic plants… far away than limiting you, this election it’s almost your sing of identity. Could you explain us how you came to this point? Was this election intuitive or intencioned?
My work is deliberately monochromatic, and even though earlier explorations did include colour, to me, they represented more of an idea of being located in the present. A lot of my exhibition work has explored themes of melancholy, nostalgia and passing time... these are themes that constantly interest me, and I want to create collections that convey a poetic visual language. More recently, time-based investigations direct the work I am going to make, so creating artwork and jewellery in a monochromatic palate imbues the work with a deeper nostalgic tone.

Nostalgia and melacholy are some adjectives that are used to describe your work. Would you define your pieces as melancholic?
Absolutely. Nostalgia and melancholy are very important elements in my work, and I am deliberately trying to infuse my current work with these elements. I don’t want to shy away from it and, instead, want the work to generate a feeling of longing- for the object and for things past.

You make exhibitions oft. What do you expect when exposing your work to the public? 
Creating a narrative in my work is really important to me; therefore, the exhibition outcome is an essential part of my creative process. The audience engagement completes the circle—the work takes on a new meaning with every person who engages with it. I just hope that on some level, people engage with the poetic elements that I incorporate into the work.

Your exhibition It’s always darkest just before dawn combines photography, video and jewellery. Some of this jewelry pieces are made from the photographic material. It looks like you use different disciplines according to your needs. What Jewellery offers you than you can get from another discipline?
More and more I am trying to create an immersive experience in my exhibitions. My exhibitions are embracing other mediums more and more. They are becoming multi-media compilations, often starting with a collection of some sort e.g. drawings, paintings, photographs or video, which inform a new collection of work and are also part of thee final work and installation. Sometimes the resulting work is a more literal translation, and other times my responses are quite abstract and seem far removed from the original source. However, in my mind, one cannot exist without the other. More and more, I am allowing myself to be lead intuitively, relying on the daily archiving of images or research materials that I collect to lead me and inform my jewellery in different ways. This all being said, Jewellery is still important to me—it’s such an intimate art form.

What piece or work has given you the most satisfaction? 
I love my work the most when it creates a rhythm; that could be expressed in a brooch or a neckpiece. From this current collection, I am particularly proud of Repeated Impressions (2015) .

While all the pieces in this collection are handmade and quite labour intensive, this piece came together just the way I had hoped it would. It’s individual elements combined to create a work with the right rhythm and balance.

Do you think that jewellery is being standardized? What is there of local and universal in your artistic work?
While jewellery could be at risk of becoming standardised due to the ubiquitous nature of mass-produced objects and proliferation of online images and craft and design shopping platforms, it’s up to jewelers and artists to carve out a space and continue to strive to create something inimitable. At the end of the day, ideas will always cross over: It’s the nuanced viewpoint our personal experiences generate that gives us the opportunity to create new perspectives on common themes. I make work that is personal and about my experience of my small world. The broader themes I explore are universal and are not unique to me, however what I choose to make and my take on them is.

You use wood in a very special way, you cut them as they were a stone. What kind of wood do you use?
My 2013 collection of wooden brooches and neckpieces were created for my US solo exhibition “These Moments Existed” at Grunwald Gallery at Indiana University. The collection explored feelings of ambivalence and melancholy, and came intuitively into being after I took 365 digital photos (one a day for a year). The wooden pieces were made from a variety of recycled Australian hardwoods that a furniture designer kindly gave me. Because I often build my pieces from flat sheet into 3D hollow constructions or hand forged pieces, I wanted to flip this and work with a reductive process to create new forms: wood was the obvious choice. I had never worked this way before and I wanted to challenge my propensity to work a particular way and with sterling silver. I really liked the process, as well as working with recycled materials—elements of wood may appear again at some point.

Australia is an amazing country, but you have also lived in the US, could you name a place, space, country whose creativity surprises you or inspires you?
Australia is an amazing place and living in such an isolated country has a great affect of my work. America continues to inspire me. I loved my experience living there, and I feel particularly lucky to have had that experience in the mid-West at Indiana University. I met some amazing makers while over there, and made some life-long friends. I am continually inspired by my memories of the landscape in Bloomington and my experience there continues to shape my work. I think it always will.

How do you see the australian jewelry scene? You have studied in both Australia and US. Could you tell us about the experience? It was something that surprised you or any positive/negative you would like to tell?
Despite many of the jewellery programs having closed in Australia, apart from a select few, Australia has a very healthy and talented group of contemporary jewellers working in the field. Strong networks are growing online as well as locally, and artist run spaces continue to fill the gaps and provide support for contemporary jewelers to come together, make and share ideas. Having experienced both US and Australian jewellery scenes (to a certain degree), each culture has created a robust generation of craftspeople who continue to push the envelope. I think, the propagation of online social media over the past decade has helped enrich the sector, connecting makers across the globe (as overwhelming and distracting as that can also sometimes be). I think it’s a great thing that I can still feel so connected to people I met and worked with in the US 8+ years ago, because I have been able to follow their art career online. It amazes me that after teaching undergraduates in beginning metals eight years ago, I managed to stay in touch online with a few of those students (mainly by following images on FB and Instagram) and that I could go back to the US and catch up for dinner with them in 2015. I love that about our global creative community.

Is there any designer, jeweller, artist, you appreciate a lot?
Where do I start?! I feel that by naming one I’m at risk of undermining the impact that others have had along the way. I’ve had the great privilege of being mentored by, working with and a friend of some of the most generous makers/artists/craftspeople in the industry. We’re very fortunate to work in a community that is so supportive, and I hope that I get to return the generosity to future generations some day.

You share your atelier with other artists. Do you discuss your work with them or other jewellery artists?
I share a studio with two other artists: a digital artist and a printmaker. We talk about our work and upcoming projects when we get the chance. I also have a network of contemporary jewellers in Melbourne, Adelaide and the US that I talk to regularly about our work and broader issues in the contemporary jewellery and art sector. 

Do you read Jewellery Magazines? What is your source to get information?
I used to read jewellery magazines, but most of the information and images I read and look at now are online. I look at everything from Klimt02, to gallery websites, artist sites, Instagram, Pinterest etc. I also buy a lot of jewellery books and had to buy another piece of luggage when I was in the US in May just to bring them all home! 

Titles have an important role in your work. They complete the pieces and directing them in a very concrete direction. Could you tell us a little bit about it?
I approach the titles of my work in a similar way to the way I use a monochromatic colour palate; to set a tone and imbue my work with meaning. I’m not trying to be obscure or subtle. I’m trying to find meaning in the world and in the little things, even if that meaning is something I have given the object or image. I want to reveal poetry in things. Therefore, titling my work is very important and a big part of my creative process. 

Your work is definetely related with the past but we would like to know what do you think about Future? What do you expect? What plans do you have?
Wow - now that’s a big question! I think about the future all the time, which is also why I think about the past a lot. I am not sure about the future. I know I will continue to make and exhibit. I also manage a gallery in Melbourne that supports artists with intellectual disabilities, so supporting other artists and connecting them with the broader contemporary arts community is also something I am really passionate about.  I would also love to live and work in the US again. So there are so many posibilities, who knows what the future will bring.
Sim Luttin. Brooch: These Moments Existed, 2015. Recycled Australian hardwood, oil pencil, silver, steel. Variable sizes. Photo by: Andrew Barcham. From series: These Moments Existed. Sim Luttin
Brooch: These Moments Existed, 2015
Recycled Australian hardwood, oil pencil, silver, steel
Variable sizes
Photo by: Andrew Barcham
From series: These Moments Existed
© By the author. Read Copyright.