London serves as a training ground, workshop, market place and inspiration to a large number of jewellery makers. Made in London: Jewellery Now explores the creations and unique vision of the most exciting, imaginative and boundary-pushing jewellers working in the capital today. In this blog series, exhibition curators Beatrice Behlen and Agata Belcen speak to the designers involved in the exhibition and discover what inspires them.
Name Noemi Klein
In London since 1997
Favourite place in London Sir John Soane’s Museum
Beatrice/Agata: Do you approach jewellery as a craft or an art?
Noemi: I think it’s a bit of both. I’ve always been interested in miniature, the aspect of making something that’s real but small. The collection I’m working on now is about making flowers as real as possible. It’s a technical challenge. Parallel to that, there’s an interest in shapes and the way that certain things go together. The other thing is the process of making. There’s a random element in it where you set out to do something and then you find something else in the process.
I’m largely self-taught – I learn by trying things out, the way the metal behaves when you heat on a given day, for example. You can then appropriate that technique. Or the way certain things bubble up – I see that it looks almost like a moon surface, and then that makes me think of constellations – and it goes further like that. There are these three things that are always in parallel: the technical challenge of creating on a smaller scale, the abstract assembling of shapes and coincidence or an element of play.
Do you have a favourite piece from everything you’ve ever made?
Not really. It changes. There are certain pieces I will always wear – the claw ring, for example. It’s one of the first things I ever made so I have a certain attachment to it, but then I’m most interested in the most recent things I’ve made.
Do you think your work has a unified aesthetic?
Maybe there’s an element of sensitivity – liking The Cure and being ‘emo’. I suppose as you get older there’s more of a rational element. And those two things are then in dialogue with each other. So I like certain dark, sad things, with something that’s quite considered. And there always seems to be a little bit of a fantasy element.
That’s what’s struck me looking at your work and your blog that there always seem to be different worlds.
Exactly. Maybe that’s a better way of putting it – a sense of loss, or sense of something else out there.
The German word Sehnsucht translates roughly as longing, or yearning for something which has gone and may never come back. So you can see that there’s a nod to a certain Romantic tradition which I suppose I refer to in my work.
How do you decide on the balance between reality and fantasy in your work?
For me the two are completely mixed. I was just looking at H. R. Giger, whose work I love and also think is absolutely gross. He deliberately goes into this slightly kitsch area and I admire him for it. I’ve veered towards fantasy, and then I’ve pulled myself back, and tried to inject some sort of stark sensitivity. Otherwise I would be away with the fairies, and there would be angel wings on everything. So I think there’s a point – I can always feel it when I’ve made something where I’ve gone a bit far. I can’t pin point where that is, but I can sense when I’m being too literally fantastical. For example, there’s currently a lot of internet art of ironic unicorns and the artists do that deliberately in an ironic way but I’m the opposite – I have that unicorn thought in my head, but I put a stark, clean modern element on it.
When you’re designing, how much do you think about wearability?
I make objects that are meant to be worn, I don’t just make objects. I want people to wear them, people who are not like me, people who have children, or anyone really. Then again, it’s nice to focus more on the inspiration every so often and make a piece that’s completely outside of context.
Does living in London have any influence on your work?
I’m from the countryside where I lived for almost half of my life, and the other half I’ve lived here in the city. My focus on nature has come since leaving the countryside. Although it’s the idea of nature rather than a reference to actual nature, which I think comes from not being in it anymore. It becomes a longing for it, its absence makes it a focus. The other influence of London is the structural element, the starkness and modernity, and the geometrics from the buildings.
To what extent do you employ traditional methods of jewellery making and to what extent do you go against them?
It depends on the piece. There’s a reason why people have been doing it a certain way for thousands of years and the integral, traditional element in my work is the casting. So I suppose I try to push this by messing around with the casting. Quite often I go to the casters, and say, ‘can we make a mould of this’ and they say ‘no’. Then I suggest we try it anyway, and maybe if we attach this to this, and then it works. There’s an element of trying to do things properly, because that’s what’s going to work. And then to do something that’s maybe not going to work, but if it did, it would be really cool.
Jewellery designer Noemi Klein’s work is featured in free exhibition Made in London: Jewellery Now. The exhibition is part of the Museum of London’s jewellery season, running alongside major exhibition The Cheapside Hoard: London’s Lost Jewels and free photography exhibition Tomfoolery. It is open until 27 April 2014.