A Jewelful Fall in Paris. Interview with Brune Boyer, Dominique Forest, Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt and Elsa Vanier by Toktam Nourkeyhani

Published: 17.09.2020
Toktam Nourkeyhani
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Edited at:
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Aisegul Telli. Exhibition: Ocean 2050. Place: Galerie Elsa Vanier..
Aisegul Telli. Exhibition: Ocean 2050. Place: Galerie Elsa Vanier.

© By the author. Read Copyright.

With events of all kinds having been cancelled over the past few months, the announcement that Parcours Bijoux 2020 will take place as planned was a ray of hope, especially as this 3rd edition promises to be another very rich event.
In just a few years, Parcours Bijoux, a contemporary jewelry festival initiated in 2013 by the association D'un Bijou à l'Autre, has become an unmissable event that brings together professionals and collectors and raises public awareness with creations that are all unique and each more impressive than the other. A series of more than thirty events, exhibitions, conferences and meetings taking place in galleries, museums, institutions and public spaces will provide the French public with the opportunity to witness an abundance of creativity and expressiveness and to discover this artistic field that is still unknown and misunderstood by many.

As their media partner for this year, I spoke to some of the key figures involved in the event in order to find out about their perspective and their vision. Brune Boyer, founding member of the association D'un Bijou à l'Autre, organizer of Parcours, Dominique Forest, head curator of the modern and contemporary department at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt, patron and collector, and Elsa Vanier, Parisian gallery owner, all very kindly accepted my request for an interview despite their busy schedules, for which I am incredibly grateful.

Tell us a little about the association D'un Bijou à l'Autre, how and why it was born?
Brune Boyer: The association was born following observations made during the "dit du bijou” discussions and meetings. We exchanged ideas on contemporary jewelry and the lack of exposure to the diversity of creations in the field. It was clear that there was a need for an association to organize one or several events to reflect this diversity.

Why did you create Parcours Bijoux? What was your main objective?
Brune Boyer: Many people are unfamiliar with this level of artistic expression in jewelry. Our goal is to showcase contemporary jewelry design, to make people understand that jewelry can be more than just Place Vendôme, fashion jewelry, or the jeweler around the corner. We want to demonstrate that the world of jewelry includes a diversity of expressions and territories and to be able to make this field part of the French cultural landscape.

What makes Parcours Bijoux different from other events related to jewelry? What are the main aspects of it?
Brune Boyer: The duration. We always wanted to make an event that would last more than a week, to give the public enough time to visit and attend as many events as possible. There is also the type of our entry criteria, which requires each project to have an exhibition theme.

Dominique Forest: The international reach, the interweaving of subjects linked to schools and personalities, all of which demonstrates a very broad spectrum of approaches.

Elsa Vanier: The Parcours Bijoux is the only French event devoted essentially to contemporary jewelry. It is organized by a young and dynamic association and especially without any lucrative goal. It is both an opportunity and an experience without equivalent in France.

Are there any aspects of Parcours that you wish to see improved?
Dominique Forest: I would like the event to last longer as it would allow a wider audience to visit and experience it.

Elsa Vanier: There is always room for improvement, and for this I see several axes: a more structured organization, upstream of the event, an even more energetic work with institutions and potential patrons to get this exceptional event recognized. And finally, a closer relationship between the organizing team and the existing galleries in Paris for better mutual support.

The association seems to make an effort to hold the events of each edition across a wide variety of locations. What is the reason for that? What is the importance of having partnerships with different organizations?
Brune Boyer: Our call for entries aims to propose exhibitions or events in "public" spaces, wherever they may be (we have excluded workshops’ open doors until now). This is to maximise the opportunities to reach a wider audience, some of whom might not be frequent gallery visitors, and to try and make this practice part of "everyday" life.

What role does an institution such as The Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris play in educating and raising public awareness on a little-known subject such as contemporary jewelry?
Dominique Forest: The Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris is the only institution in France to have a major jewelry collection. Its collection is comparable to that of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. We therefore have the unique opportunity to see the most contemporary creations, which can sometimes confuse our visitors who associate jewelry with high jewelry, especially in a city like Paris that is the mecca of High Jewelry.

Why is it important to support Parcours Bijoux?
Dominique Forest: Parcours Bijoux is an unmissable event promoting contemporary jewelry, enriched by the presence of the creators themselves. It is very important for an institution like ours to be associated with an event that concerns contemporary and avant-garde creations as the museum is greatly invested in the field.

Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt: Unfortunately, France is behind many European countries in understanding and appreciating contemporary jewelry design. It is therefore important to give this poorly understood field as much exposure as possible.

Elsa Vanier: For me, this Parisian event is part of the series of jewelry weeks happening internationally in major cities. As a gallery looking for international recognition, it would be a mistake for us not to participate.

Could such an event be an opportunity to enrich a collection? Whether it is a public collection, such as that of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, or a private collection?
Dominique Forest: We hope to be able to acquire pieces by the two creators that are exhibited at the museum.

Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt: Supporting the artists has always been a priority for me. It is the relationships that was established between us that led me to collect contemporary jewelry. I have a collection essentially made up of human and artistic crushes.

Can you tell us exactly how you became a jewelry collector?
Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt: It goes back to the early 80's when I was the editor-in-chief of the magazine L'OEIL. I discovered jewelry made from materials very different from traditional jewelry in the artists’ workshops and some galleries. The conversations I had with these artists was so fascinating and creatively enriching that I developed an interest in this innovative field. Friendships and strong bonds were created between us. I would have never imagined then that this would trigger such a strong passion for contemporary jewelry.

Can you tell us a bit about your communication plan? The main lines …
Brune Boyer: Parcours Bijoux's communication plan is based on two main axis : print media and social networks. We have invested in a striking visual identity in order to create our communication supports, which will then be used by our press agency and our community managers. Our press agency is specialized in the major cultural events in France, such as the Heritage Days and the European Days of Arts and Crafts, among others. They know that contemporary jewelry is at a crossroads between crafts and art, which is why their communication will target both sectors.  We hope that with this approach, we will be able to bring contemporary jewelry to a wider public of collectors. We will also strongly rely on social networks as nowadays they are tools of crucial importance. In addition to our official community managing planning, we have developed exciting partnerships that will help us to give more visibility to Festival.

Based on your experience, do you think the French public will be receptive to the exhibitions organized outside museums and public spaces?
Brune Boyer: We certainly hope so!

Dominique Forest: Absolutely! The world of jewelry is extremely active and militant with important monographs and exhibitions, and above all a very rich creation, which is not restricted to tradition alone but which experiments, dares, moves, and this in many countries.

And lastly, what will you say to encourage artists, creators and galleries to participate in the future editions?
Brune Boyer: It is slightly premature to talk about future editions, especially as the presence of Covid-19 has resulted in many uncertainties around the upcoming edition. However, I can say with confidence that we are one of the only events to stand up to Covid-19, because Parcours Bijoux does not take place in one place, but in a variety of locations.

Solange Thierry de Saint-Rapt: Simply because it remains the only event in France, apart from a few galleries, where we have the opportunity to help the public discover this artistic and creative side of jewelry. 

Elsa Vanier: This event becomes more important with each edition and settles in the memories, therefore in a way each edition (triennial...) attracts more and more visitors. We can even think that the entrance ticket to exhibit will become higher, more selective...

So, see you in Paris from 6 to 25 October 2020. Maybe we'll cross each other in the exhibitions.

About the author

Toktam Nourkeyhani is a jewellery expert who works as a curator and influencer in Paris. She holds a M.A’s in Contemporary Art Market and French Literature and she has worked in the art and culture field for the past 20 years. As the founder and editor of T Like Twinkle, an Instablog dedicated to art and contemporary jewelry, Toktam also consults galleries and artists on digital strategy and marketing.

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