JEWELLERY as art

Three Peace Region artists share their love of metal.
By Sarah Alford

Joyce Lee Joyce Lee, is a self-described collector, dreamer and designer living on a 160-acre ranch north of Dawson Creek; a world she describes as “filled with the potential for design.” Lee considers her pieces as part of a cycle in which the illuminated world is uncovered and shared.

“Stones are captured energy, created by the earth over millions of years, brought to light so that I may use my hands and wire to support and embrace them. Astone may be cold as you pick it up, but as you hold it against your skin and give it your heat, it then holds and returns it”.

Lee sees beauty everywhere, and jewellery is her vehicle for honouring, and participating in, beauty’s pleasure. “Beauty is beauty, whether on a gallery wall, in a song, in the sky, or in a finished creation gleaming in my hand.”

Heather Forbes For Heather Forbes, the process of making jewellery is much like the process of living a valiant life. “My favourite pieces began as ‘mistakes;’ they didn’t turn out as I had planned. When that happens, you allow yourself to experiment and play with what you have. You and the piece evolve; you learn how to work together. It can never be replicated.”

Her introduction to jewellery was a workshop led by Edmonton artist Karen Cantine. “I was just Scottish enough that when the workshop was over, I had to go back and make something with the scrap silver.” Forbes’ jewellery bench now sits behind the counter of her store, Forbes and Friends, in Grande Prairie. There’s a room in the back for the very messy jewellery procedures. “Silver is actually a dirty metal to work with,” she smiles, “but when you fine tune it. buffing, finishing. it becomes a sensual, magical experience. It’s a transformation.”

NeKo NeKo discovered jewellery-making while attending the Alberta College of Art in the 1970s. He had intended to study painting, but found himself lured by the technical challenges posed by the newly-formed jewellery program. Since then, the Grande Prairie resident has made jewellery that expresses his generosity and refined sense of design with delicacy, humour, and virtuosity. Sadly, NeKo recently developed an allergy to metal. After all that filing, sanding, piercing and torching, the metal has begun to bite back. While this is quite a blow to both NeKo and the jewellery community, he welcomes it as an opportunity. NeKo’s work displays such discipline and creativity, it is certain that he will succeed in whatever he chooses to do next, be it landscaping, stained glass, or his first love, watercolour. “Leap,” says NeKo, “and the net will appear.”


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