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In India, The Learning Process of Metalwork And Jewellery Making is Still Carried Out in a Traditional Way. Meghan Salgaonkar interviewed by Klimt02

Interview  /  Artists
Published: 20.07.2020
Meghan Salgaonkar Meghan Salgaonkar
Author:
Klimt02
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2020
Meghan Salgaonkar. Object: Platter 3, 2018. Steel, enamel.. 41 x 41 x 4.5 cm. Photo by: Meghan Salgaonkar. Meghan Salgaonkar
Object: Platter 3, 2018
Steel, enamel.
41 x 41 x 4.5 cm
Photo by: Meghan Salgaonkar
© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
India is a rich resource of incredible traditional jewellery & metal craft, right from the ancient period to present days. For both, western & eastern world, India is the grand hub with respect to it’s philosophy, spirituality, arts, crafts and cultures. Yet there exists a misfortune. Instead of providing an innovative and new visionary, most of the Indian jewellery schools are still following the traditional ways. But I believe that, one day the picture will change to express and incorporate innovative ideas and awareness of contemporary jewellery.
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 come from a family of traditional Indian goldsmiths and jewellery designers-makers. I am the third generation, with some 70 years of tradition in my background. We have our own goldsmith store with small workshop at my home town Banda, near Goa. I have finished my bachelor of fine arts in metal work from a well known 163 years old institute the Sir J. J. School of Art- Mumbai in 1999, in modern environment. In the art school I chose metal work for my specialized subject, because metal craft & jewellery is in my blood. I have been seeing interesting processes and techniques regarding jewellery making from my childhood. This gave me a thought that, from my career point of view, no other but metal is the only medium I would be more comfortable to work with.

In India, the learning process of metal work and jewellery making is still carried out in a traditional way,  the young generation receives set of instructions from old and experienced generation. During childhood, the task of texturing and planishing various metals like copper, silver etc. was a child’s play for me. In addition to this hereditary knowledge and training, the theoretical knowledge of history of arts, metal work techniques which I studied in art school, expanded my horizons. Besides India, I have studied a wide span of history of arts and crafts, right from ancient to contemporary period, of various  eastern and western regions.
 

How important is networking for you in your professional practice and what are your preferred tools for this?
Whether aided by technology or not, networking indeed plays a vital role in the expansion of any field, irrespective of any era. Yet for an artist, designer or maker it is inevitable to travel across the world in order to acquire knowledge about various arts-cultures and communities.
 

What are your general thoughts on the contemporary jewellery world, (education, market, development...), where do you see chances and where are dead ends?

During my Artist-in-Residence Program at The Estonian Academy of Art, Tallinn, I got an opportunity to work as a visiting artist in various enamel - jewellery studios and organizations viz., The Hungarian Enamel Studio (Kecskemet - Hungary), Künstlerwerkstätten (Erfurt - Germany)’ and The Maison de l'Email (Morez - France). During all this, one thing which I strongly noticed is that, India lacks in professional infrastructures for further training in vitreous enamelling as well as in contemporary jewellery designing & making.
 
However, India is a rich resource of incredible traditional jewellery & metal craft, right from the ancient period to present days. For both, western & eastern world, India is the grand hub with respect to it’s philosophy, spirituality, arts, crafts and cultures. Yet there exists a misfortune. Instead of providing an innovative and new visionary, most of the Indian jewellery schools are still following the traditional ways. But I believe that, one day the picture will change to express and incorporate innovative ideas and awareness of contemporary jewellery.
 

Thinking about your career, what role do technology and the digital play in your artistic development & communication?
The technology facilitates many more possibilities in each area of mankind, right from making to communication. But according to me, it can never be a replacement for human brain and hand skills, because it’s the human mind and soul that ultimately procreates the creative and innovative ideas.


How has your work changed over the past few years and what are you excited about these days?
In my 20 years of career in metalsmithing & enameling, I have worked in Indian and European enamel art studios. In 2002, I participated in The 28th International Enamel Symposium and Workshop at The Hungarian Enamel Centre in Kecskemet, Hungary. This was my first experience of travelling abroad. I did work along with 60 artists from distinct countries for six weeks. This experience enhanced me with an opportunity to explore possibilities of vitreous enamelling process, with both creative & technical skills.  
 
Though my work is thoroughly contemporary in design and technique, it’s influenced by traditional practices. Thus my overall approach fuses many different elements of metal work and jewellery design, from both the past and the present. My experience to date, have opened up the world of various styles, techniques and methods in metal work, enamel and jewellery. I also have got inspiration for research in painting, textiles, ceramics and other art forms. The hand-skills of traditional Indian jewellery making are world class and these are at my fingertips. It's the exposure to and experience of modern jewellery design and practice, that would always give me new focus and inspiration. I am very motivated to continue to develop my own language of expression as an artist and I seek to do this through my inventive integration of traditional craft with progressive interpretation.
 
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