This month we profile engraver and jeweller Emma Fielden.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? I am an engraver and a jeweller, with a particular focus on drawing and mark making. I've been working full time from my studio in Parramatta since 2007, where I make work for exhibition and commission, as well as working as a freelance hand engraver.
Who/What are you inspired by? Lots of things and people inspire me, though they don’t necessarily inform me directly in my work; scientists, artists, family members and friends, people who work selflessly at causes they are passionate about and for others. When it comes to my work, I’m quite internally driven, I just want to keep on going. I think it stems from growing up as a musician, practicing scales, studies and pieces for hours on end to the beat of a metronome. I was pretty self-disciplined and obsessive about music from the age of about seven until my early twenties. I think it really shaped me and something of it has never left me.
How do you describe your signature style? I don’t really think about style as such to be honest. I just try to work sincerely through my own process; my works and the way they look are produced through that.
How would you describe your process? My process is quite intense and meditative. Repetitive acts continue to occur throughout my work, be it through engraving, ink on paper, or through some other act like stitching. In this way, I seek to engage with feelings or some intangible notion. I’ll sometimes pick a form upon which to focus and work through it, like I did with the grid in this body of work. Although I was interested in the grid from a cultural, historic and geometric standpoint, it was ultimately a form through which I could work to express something deeper. I suppose in such a way, I was somehow trying to transform it. I think I sometimes teeter on a thread of understanding and not understanding my own process, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a good thing. I find myself checking and challenging myself to make sure I understand, or am on my way to understanding, what it is that I’m really doing with a particular work.
What's next for you? I’ve started a new body of work that follows on from the work in this current exhibition, trying to push the ideas further and engage more deeply with my process. The new work will be shown at COTA Gallery late next year, so I’m focused on that for now
Give me three words that describe your work? draw – engrave - repeat
Is there anyone you dream of collaborating/working with? Well, I actually do have a collaborative project stewing away on the backburner, but it will be a while before I will have the time I need to seriously dedicate to it. My partner is a poet, and a jeweller too actually. We share our studio. He’s been writing for about ten years now, has been extensively published in journals and newspapers, and his first book will be released soon through Black Pepper Publishing. We’ve been talking for some time about working on a book together, a book of poems and engravings. Searching for a theme, we were looking for something broad that we could both engage with separately and together. We’ve decided on one, but I’ll keep that close to the chest at this stage. Our project will lead me into another collaboration too - I’m going to need to find a way to print my engraved plates, which I’ve never done before. I have a couple of avenues I’m looking down for this. Historically, printmaking and engraving go hand in hand, so I’m pretty excited about the idea of introducing printmaking to my practice.
Contemporary jewellery is a term used to define jewellery made after the 1950s/1960s, where the maker seeks to work from an artistic standpoint, or to innovate and challenge the accepted norms of the craft. It is set apart from ‘traditional’ jewellery in the way that practitioners often challenge the notion of material value, focusing instead upon concept, craft and design. To be honest, I’m in two minds about the term. I can understand the need for a definitive term for the movement, but I think it might serve us better as artists/designers/craftspeople to simply call it jewellery, and ask of ourselves this question - Is it good?
View Emma Fielden's word here.