I have just come back from this weeks lecture that was taken by the head of the Masters course at DoJ, Hazel White. White is a jeweller who studied at DoJ so I had a feeling that I could get some of my questions answered by being there. Like all the lectures this year is was not going to be a boring slide show of past work but rather a vehicle to inspire us, make us ask question about what we are being told and also make us look ourselves and our work.
We were given a brief insight into her past whilst at the Royal College of Art, one piece which she herself said asked the question of people behaviour once seeing the piece and how they would interact with it. I have only been studying jewellery since the September and ever since Jonathan asked us the question about what our designs do to make a difference to others (ill try elaborate this later when i make a bigger post!) I have had a real conflict about where I, as a jewellery designer, draw the line between making beautiful pieces for simple vanity and decoration or to conjure up something that will have a lasting effect on someones life no matter how small that could be. Jonathan!!!! I have lost countless hours of sleep because of this!
White spoke about several projects that she had been involved with such as a necklace that through colour recognition software would allow the wearer to access videos online. She also showed us a necklace and ring that emitted light that you could use to create a unique piece of jewellery online which would become the pieces "second life" almost. The piece live in the real world but also lives in another reality. Can not say that I was very impressed by this for what I was showing. The problem I had with this, and I have just spent a good bit of time having a discussion with my friend from graphics who was at the lecture about this, was that technology exists out there already to access videos and photographs online so why would you require and additional object to allow you to do this??? I could not get my head round this project at all.
For my next blog I will expand on the next few projects which I found really spoke to me and partly answered my question of where I draw the line on vanity and helping others (see earlier). White was involved with a projects that gave a group of people a pack with nine charms in it that they could make there own bracket or key ring from. They were given a book to write their thoughts and what the thought about each charm. This was really interesting and also a little bit heart felt at the same time. Another project she did was the Hamefarer box. This was for people of Shetland that could keep up to date with there family and friends who had left home and lived/worked else where. More for the older generation who did not need to understand how a computer works or what Flikr was, it enabled them to see photographs from their loved ones. Hazel White also showed us a couple of simple diagrams about baby monitors and tracking devices that we can buy and asked us if they caused more harm for the parent and pondered if another subtle object, say a necklace, that would warn them that their child is in need of assistance.
White answered a question about actually making a piece,asked as she had used an already made locket to make the light emitting necklace, and said that it was only bought because it meant she could move the project on within a matter of days instead of taking a month to make the necklace. This was understandable but she made the point that anybody could do this, where as trained people with a specialism, jeweller in this case, could only have made a good quality necklace. Again this was fair enough but when she talked about the specialism becoming a hobby instead of an actual job (it did not come out quite like this but it is how I'm interpreting it) it through up another question when I was leaving the hall that does Hazel White still make pretty pieces of jewellery for friends, family and clients or is she exclusive to making and researching pieces that also offer more to people? This again comes back to where you draw the line. If she just makes pieces to help others (to put it so crudely) does she not still make simple jewellery and if she does then surely that can be seen as a hobby??
After writing this I am beginning to think that that might not be such a bad thing and that we can all do both. I am studying jewellery because I like to make things and I have a slight obsession with miniature objects. My own passion for it has grown since studying it but inside there is a conflict burning away. Can I feed both fires with my work or will I have to pick on road to travel down? I guess time and my own exploration will tell.