Reworking pieces

22 04 2009

I have been spending some time archiving, and properly storing, the jewellery and silversmithing objects I made during my Fine Arts Degree at RMIT (2004-2006).

Spending time, indulging really, to leaf through the visual diary attached to each assignment piece, and in some cases I’ve made a technical drawing or a still-life rendering (a practice I picked up at the Goldsmiths School in Brisbane).

This process can take hours for each piece, for I can easily fall into reverie: how I was feeling at the time I was exploring that particular idea; what was going on in my life; what other objects could have been made instead of the one that actually ended up being made.

On that last point, one of the lecturers at uni once said that the hardest part of designing was not necessarily coming up with an idea, but deciding on which of your ideas to bring into existence. That decision was often uneasy, especially because in the first few years of the degree we are set tasks and assignments that need to be completed in limited time.

As I look over the underlying work for each assignment, I find that I am now having ‘better’ ideas on what I could do with various components in these fledgling pieces.

For example, our very first assignment was to make a jewellery piece with an element of cuttlefish casting. This was the very first piece I made at university, and I’m a bit shy about it and no longer even like it, and it doesn’t represent my style at all – but for the sake of the argument here I have included a photograph.

Project: Cut to the Bone (Year 1, Semester 1, 2004) image: Mark Kral

project: Cut to the Bone (Year 1, Semester 1, 2004); materials: sterling silver, silk, thread; image: Mark Kral

But now I look at the piece I created, particularly in context of the drawings I was making at the time of alternate uses of the main component, and find myself toying with the idea of essentially destroying the piece and making something else from the components.

This has been troubling me – if a piece is not successful, or no longer considered successful, is it okay to ‘remodel’ it?

  • Does it depend on how much time has passed since the piece was last touched – if it has existed in this complete state for five years should it remain as is, or if it was only a few months ago is it okay?
  • Does it depend on whether it has previously been presented as ‘finished’ – exhibited in public, or at an examination?
  • Should it never be altered after being ‘finished’ – if a better piece is possible, then make a new piece to reflect the new idea, and don’t touch the older piece – in this way an unaltered history of the artist’s development is kept?
  • Does it matter at all, the artist can choose to do whatever they like?

What do other jewellers think and do? What do artists in other media think and do? Leonardi da Vinci touched-up and altered the paintings that remained in his possession and if it’s good enough for him…

After giving it lots of thought, I’ve decided that given I made this object for university assessment and it effectively forms part of the documentation of my progression as an artist and jeweller, especially when placed in context against later work, that I won’t be destroying it. Though I suspect the urge will probably remain.



One response

29 05 2010
RMIT Year 1, Semester 1, Enamelling #4 « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] is particularly interesting about this piece, is that it is the only one I’ve happily re-worked. I took out one of the components less than a year later to gift it to a special friend who had […]

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