Photo: Jose Bravo
Jewellery: Nelly Van Oost
Pictures with jewellery by : Elvira Golombosi
"Rencontres" the story
Jose, the key encounter
A gaze, an encounter. When I met Jose in June 2012, I had the feeling that we would share something strong, that he would be one of those important people who sometimes come across.
I don’t believe in destiny but in encounters. Each person has their journey, and this journey builds our identity. I’ve been listening to so many tales about these journeys. And no doubt this influences my own, giving me new perspectives on things and on my past
These encounters are a strength, a treasure I keep carefully. They help me to turn with complete confidence to the future, also keeping in mind the idea that I could meet many others.
During my creative process these links are really present, they inspire me and help me for the creation of my jewels.
For years, photography has been an element of my process, and many photographers are for me examples. When I take a picture, I gain hindsight, and I choose to extract but a small part of the situation. It is a way to choose the material which pleases you most, with which you can work. And taking pictures everyday allows me to keep in touch with my environment, and with what happens around me.
For this final project in this master’s degree, I wanted to explore once more photography as a source of inspiration. And my encounter with Jose Bravo but reinforced this idea. In June, we talked about my work, and the way I feel things, and I realized I missed something, a spark, a connection. My work is really instinctive, but this time through matter and not concept. This is something I developed in Idar-Oberstein and I am convinced this is an interesting process giving great results.
Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to combine the way I used to work in Idar-Oberstein with the approach I used in Barcelona, and that I had put aside for some times. This was only a question of adjustment, because I think the way I’m working with a concept is omnipresent.
I therefore started by wondering about the motivations which had led me to create the last pieces before entering this final project.
The structures I had realized were bigger and bigger, and also more and more connected to the body; I realized these jewels directly on the body of models, to the extent that some jewels could only be worn by their initial wearer. These necklaces convey the idea of space, of the body in space. And also of the body in its own space.
What are the connections around us? Who enters our space? Are we aware of what surrounds us? To whom are we getting connected? Are these connections a protection?
I also realized two necklaces inspired by photographs I had found in Estonia. One of theme represented several women and a baby. And I thought it could be interesting to throw the light on some parts of the body reminding of maternity. In that case, the jewel was an amplification, an invitation to see the poetry of the body.
When I create these pieces, I draw in the space around the body, I tell a tale, I think over my own connections. I often wonder about the other’s connections, more particularly on the connections exiting around the people on whom I am designing my jewels. These bodies and these people inspire me.
Then, I wondered what would happen if I came to invite someone to observe and take pictures of my own connections. Just like I would be looking at myself but through the other’s eyes, to see how I am connected to the others and what my universe is made of.
I remembered Jose and told him about my project and he accepted at once, without even knowing what it really consisted of. Neither did I. I wanted it to be an encounter through an invitation to enter my everyday life. He landed on the 4th of August in Beauvais airport. We were both at the same time exalted and uncertain about what was going to happen, because none of us did know what we could and would experience together. I knew Jose but very little, we had met only once. This made things even more uncertain, but also more genuine, since he would really discover me during these days spent together, through his photographs.
We discussed on the starting point of this encounter around a coffee. I would not see the pictures he would take before the end of the project, and he did not want me to feel uncomfortable; we also had to communicate on the feelings we had.
During the whole week, I brought him to the places where I feel good, or blue… places where I want to take people who want to discover who I am. We very soon got connected, through some kind of invisible link; he could feel my emotions and consequently he more easily understood my relation to my environment.
The places were important of course, but my relationships were even more. Something magic happened, people were not disturbed by the camera and soon forgot about Jose’s presence. Of course I explained our common project and had expected some people would refuse to be photographed but it never happened. People felt I was relaxed, that is also why this unusual situation was not disturbing for them.
I felt myself in his presence, sometimes I even forgot he was there, but from time to time I also started to observe my environment, wondering what he would pick out from these moments. It meant deep confidence in the other. Little by little, I started paying attention to details I did not see any longer, like the position of mother’s hands at certain moments of the day, the gestures people made in relation to the others. One of the gestures among men to show their affection is to tap on their belly. This is part of the things I had not noticed. This was perfect balance between looking at myself from the outside as well as from the inside.
I was just emerging from a long period of work for the project of gallery OhMy! And this week devoted to studying and research was some kind of transition to my artistic work. I felt as if in suspension, out of time.
Then the phenomenon occurred a second time: I dreamt about the shape the jewels would have. On Tuesday, 7th August I had a rest and dreamt of the first jewel of the series to come. Usually, when I feel stable, everything comes to inspire me and I create.
These days of creative desire are essential in the process of my work. I am eager to go to the workshop to start transforming this energy inside me. Some kind of language is about to be given voice through my hands. Yet, I like to take my time, not going to the workshop to soon; I like to cultivate this desire, refining it. In general, this is during this period that most of my ideas do come.
This encounter with Jose did inspire me, he allowed me to look at myself through the eyes of someone else and to generate this energy.
We went together to Idar-Oberstein, and until then I had not really explained him what I really wanted to do with the photographs, we were experiencing the process without considering its purpose.
I sat at my work table, took out the stones I had bought a few months earlier. I had the feeling that it was the moment. I did not know if I really wanted to use them. But after those 10 days I knew they would be part of the jewels I was about to create. They were to me an encounter, a challenge, something I did not really understand but which was making sense at that moment of my artistic process. Jose took a picture of me holding a stone. We knew that this picture would be the last. And that from this moment on something new was about to begin. This stone belongs to the last jewels I realized for the series “Rencontre”, it is the element completing this part of my work.
The title « Rencontres » has not always been obvious. When Jose left on August, 11th2012 from Frankfurt Hahn airport, I knew this would be the title of my work.
When he left I had a hard time because those few days had been really intense. I therefore decided to go to the workshop at once. I did not see the pictures before August, 22nd. Waiting for them was almost unbearable, and in a way I could not work without this source of inspiration which I was about to receive.
To hold them in my hands was unbelievable, looking at them, remembering the moments. They were the moments of that week but also something beyond this; they were the pictures of the places where I had grown, of the people who had grown with me. And I could really feel Jose’s sensibility. He had succeeded in capturing the moments or the objects which are important for me although I had said nothing about them. I did not want to influence his work, the decisions were his.
I printed many of these pictures, selected one, and made the first necklace. I did not draw my inspiration from the picture directly but from the feeling I had at that moment. The picture had captured it and I could feel it anew.
This was some kind of common thread, everything was making sense. The jewels I created were answering the pictures and his look at the places I come from.
From inspiration to matter
I was in my bubble, with all these pictures in front of me. Everything was making sense and the jewels were becoming reality. The more I created jewels, the more ideas I had!
It was really interesting to work with these stones which had attracted me only at certain moments but with which I had never had some real connection. They were all lying on a table, and I spent much time examining, touching them. Someone told me something beautiful which moved me a lot: “you’re looking at that stones like a painter”. Each day I discovered new details on stones I had been looking at for hours. They were telling me stories I could associate to my own story. Each day I selected one or several stones that I associated to Jose’s pictures.
And in front of this table full of inspiration, I was delighted to select a picture and to go to the workshop. Sometimes, I took a stone with me, sometimes not. It depended on what the moment inspired me.
We had built some kind of dialogue, this metal wire on my work table and I. We played at creating. I met a man last year who told me one could perceive my taste for playing and for fun in my jewel. I was pleased he had seen that, because it is really what happens. I play.
In my work, first, I feel, then, I analyze. I look at the shapes, the composition, the dialog between the stone and the whole. I destroyed some jewels to create them again starting from the initial idea that had inspired me.
The beginning of the process was a storm, I lived a whole week of creation, it had to flow out and I was living through my hands; I was happy because I had the feeling I could pass this energy to the objects. Then the next stage came, I became quieter and took the time to observe and to make decisions. Making the difference between what we do consciously and unconsciously is really interesting because it gives birth to new possibilities.
I was no longer euphoric, but I was stable. Sometimes something really strong happens: some jewels you create surprise you and make you feel happen, you can even fall in love with them. I felt this for several of my jewels. I have much tenderness for each of them but, for instance, on a Sunday I created a necklace with a white opal and when it was finished, I felt pride, love. It sounds strange to say this kind of things about a jewel. I think that this is due to the fact that during this week of creation I was surrounded by so much love that this love took shape in a way.
I also liked to take up technical challenges. The stones were a world completely new to me, I had to learn how to feel the material; this is a material you have to listen to and to examine in order to know how it will react. Too much pressure and they break… a friend of mine told me how to make the holes I needed in the stones, he told me the rule number one was to respect the stones. Of course, some of them did break, but this sometimes led to some good surprise.
I also had to find solutions for the paint. I found a good brand in Brussels, which gave good results.
Then I made some tests to gold-plate certain structures. The result was beautiful but it worked only for some pieces. The finish of each jewel was different.
Then I had the idea to combine the two: gold-plating first and then painting the jewel. I like the poetical game this technique conveys: with time the paint will be removed when these jewels will be worn, and then you will discover the gold lying underneath. It symbolizes the passing of time, and all these encounters.