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JOYA Barcelona, the main art jewelry and art object event in Spain will celebrate its 13th edition this year focussing on the subject of Alchemy:
This antique discipline of doctrine and experimentation of chemical phenomena analyses the transmutation of metals, the elixir of life, and the search for stone philosophers. The Alchemy is also related to secret methods, the elixir of immortality, the creation of panaceas able to cure any disease; and to development of a universal solvent.
In this first interview of three, we spoke to Jury Member Lucia Massei, jeweller, and director of Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School in Florence.
Lucia, you are a jewelry artist. You have exhibited your works in art, design, and art jewelry galleries on the international scene. This year you are selected as a member of the JOYA 2021 jury. Tell us more about your professional development.
I feel lucky because I had a family that has supported me in my artistic choices since I was little. I've always loved art, I've always known that I wanted to become a jewellery maker. The studies and professional choices have been oriented in this direction. I am a reserved and, at the same time, a very extroverted person, I wanted to look for an emotional and intellectual language that would allow me to communicate with others and at the same time express myself without the use of words. I try to nourish my creativity mainly by reading books and traveling: then, of course, having grown up in Italy is certainly something that has helped to refine my aesthetic sense. For years I have exhibited my work in contexts not only related to jewellery but to art: mainly with projects created ad hoc or curated by me. My main gallery is Antonella Villanova gallery, which for years has represented my work in high-profile international contexts such as Design Miami Basel, and of which I fully share the vision. Last year I was invited to participate in a group exhibition by Atelier Lachaert Dhanis, in Belgium, and it was a great experience.
Lucia Massei. Bracelet: I Giorni, 2016. Ancient epaulettes, copper gold plated, resin, lined with ancient Italian silk.
Photo by: Federico Cavicchioli
Photo by: Federico Cavicchioli
Alchemy is the topic JOYA Fair wanted to focus on this year. Why do you think you were selected to be on the jury?
I guess it's for my artistic and professional career: in 1998 I founded Alchimia, a school-based in Florence which deals exclusively with high-level jewellery courses. I had not received what I was trying to learn from public institutions and I imagined a school that had as its main objective that of educating goldsmiths through serious technical and cultural training, in order to have students grow a sense of expressive freedom and awareness in their personal and unique creative process. Alchimia is in fact my most precious jewel: a vision that is fulfilled and changes shape every day.
As a jury for the JOYA 2021 Award, what do you expect to discover? What is the specific aesthetic you are looking for and what criteria or visions do you have for your selection?
I wouldn’t want to fall into the error of looking for a precise aesthetic, but I expect a jewel to be a form of communication, intellectual and/or emotional. I hope to imagine, to feel something when I see it. I expect it to talk about the culture and roots of those who thought it, for it to contain a story, an urgent message to be delivered to those who are able to receive it. I expect its creation to display a knowledge of specific techniques, no matter if ancient or contemporary, but that the right technique has been used to express a concept or a shape; I also expect that the materials, precious or not, are treated with care, expertise, and empathy. I am looking for simplicity, which as we know is a difficult point of arrival to reach.
Lucia Massei. Necklace: Vostra Maestà, 2014. Yellow gold, silver, ancient epaulettes, crystal.
What is your personal interpretation of this year's subject?
There are few things that are as misinterpreted and unknown as alchemy. I see it as an interesting opportunity to talk about the combination of elements, through knowledge, curiosity to go beyond, experimentation, science, philosophy, thought and hands. I see it as a journey in continuous evolution, full of discoveries, disappointments, transformations. A practice where material and immaterial knowledge come together and complement each other.
What do you think of the fair as a communication and / or professional development event? What personal experience do you have and what do you think is special about the JOYA Jewelry fair in Barcelona?
I think all events that can lead the public to a better understanding of the world of jewellery and the one of the makers are important. Communication and interaction are essential for developing ideas and implementing a market, which is currently underdeveloped. As Alchimia we have participated in JOYA since the very first editions and it has always been a very interesting experience.
What kind of contemporary jewelry would you like to see most often?
Unfortunately I must say that today under the name of contemporary jewellery you can find a bit of everything, very often the quality is low, or the makers have little to say. I can recognize, when I see someone's work if he has had a more or less complete course of study, and usually, it is an indication of seriousness, commitment, and artistic maturity. I am looking for quality, and as we know quality and talent, are rare to find...
Lucia Massei. Brooch: Senna river, 2008. Iron, silver, fine gold, pigments, mica.
JOYA is an event focussed on sales and to expand the market. How do you see the market for Contemporary Jewelry nowadays?
It seems to me that the world of contemporary jewellery has been closed in on itself for years and instead I would like an opening to the world of art in all of its forms. I would like to see jewelry in more open contexts, I would like to see curators write about jewellery in a more critical and cultured way. I’d love to see collaborations between galleries to increase the visibility of their artists and consequently implement the market with new collectors. At the moment there is a widespread confusion about what is design, contemporary jewellery, accessory or art and this does not benefit anyone. I miss a broader scope and a more serious context.
About the IntervieweeLucia Massei studied jewellery and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence and achieved meaningful experiences as a freelance designer in the fields of classic jewellery and fashion accessories. In 1998 she co-founded Alchimia together with Doris Maninger. As a jewellery artist, she exhibits her work in galleries of contemporary art and design in international contexts. Believing in the potential of every individual, and the power of Art, Massei as acting director of Alchimia, has been supporting students and staff in exploring and strengthening their creativity, encouraging their self-expression, providing them with the right space and environment, as well as guiding them towards new possibilities and directions throughout their carrier through her courses. Since 2016 she is the Director of Alchimia.
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