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“Maybe jewellery got into our blood” – Interview with Lauryna Kiškytė, Grand Prix winner of "Am

Tell us about yourself, how did you get interested in jewellery?

I got interested in art in childhood, I remember that I used to select papers for drawings from old Father‘s documents put aside for burning. From early years I was very meticulous, I could draw the smallest details or construct something for hours; I liked to work alone and enjoyed concentration and silence. I think these personal features were decisive for my choice of jewellery studies. To say the truth, I knew very little about jewellery world at that time; I thought that jewellery are decorations made of precious metals and gem stones, but the studies, various placements and jewellery festivals opened my eyes and I saw completely different jewellery. I understood that similarly to a painting, a sculpture or a photograph a piece of jewellery can tell a story, send a message, show the values and a particular view of creator and at the same time it can be a functional object that decorates human body.

What did attract you in the “Amber Trip” contest theme “Nature Morte” this year?

The competition topic for this year made me stop and put aside generally liked sensitive and romantic nature motives that sometimes are used in an idyllic manner in artwork and take another approach, to understand the fragility of nature and discover the meaning... in the end. For the first time, I have understood that jewellery can make me speak about the issues relevant for our society.

Your work “Crown of Shame” is a winner of the exhibition art contest. Have your expected this success?

After quite a long period of time, the creative process still causes a strange excitement and a smile. I told my Father that I needed his help to burn pieces of coal because I was going to make a crown. Imagine, a 23 years old girl asks her Father for help to burn pieces of coal because she is going to make a crown. And I joked that I would make a career with this crown. I laid out compositions, connected charred pieces of wood; Father gradually got enthusiastic about his assistant‘s role as if he felt that something important took place; every evening when he was back from work he asked if I needed any more pieces of coal. I continued my work with a thought in my mind that either everything would turn out very good or it would be a true crown of shame for me. When the last day came and I should send the work I thought that if I should do it. Moreover, I was an artist, a model, a photographer and a layout designer – all in one. However, I‘ve sent it and left to Munich to a jewellery week where I got the delightful news. My head was full of impressions, positive emotions, so perhaps, I did not get what happened.

“Crown of Shame” is a dramatic and theatrical work of art. How the idea to create it emerged?

Recently, I returned from internship in Tallinn where I had an opportunity not only to improve my technological skills but also to visit many contemporary jewellery exhibitions, to feel the atmosphere of the city. I brought home Tallinn feeling: calm colours, coldness, mysticism; I think it had a great influence on my choice of materials and expression. The idea of this artwork emerged after watching the movie by L. Di Caprio “Before the Flood”; it is an astonishing movie that shows the greatness and fragility of our nature, which nowadays depends on soulless people who are greedy for material assets. I understood that I must share the accumulated thoughts and express my position. I wanted my manifest to be heard and seen by as much people as possible. My wish was heard.

What shapes your creative process – materials you work with or the idea influences the choice of material? What materials are most pleasant to work with?

Currently I design jewellery for individual customers, so most often materials shape the process; most people tend to choose traditional materials for jewellery: precious metals, gem stones. If I make an art project, then I select material that fits the idea. I mostly work with silver; I gradually grasped most subtleties of work with this material. Nevertheless, I also try to tame non-traditional materials – bones, wood and porcelain.

What are your sources of inspiration? I am a book person, so mostly inspiration comes from very different books: art history albums, research literature, biographies or my favourite novels by H. Hesse and H. Murakami. Other sources are nature that every time amazes by the combination of colours, forms and compositions and also music that accompanies me always and everywhere.

You play violin. Does music complement your creative jewellery work? How?

Music truly has an important place in my life. A year spent in music school shaped my personality. I learned diligence, responsibility, discipline, patience, listening and hearing. So maybe the influence of music is not obvious, but I do not imagine creative work without it. It is worth mentioning that my love to music inspired the idea of final bachelor thesis: I designed jewellery for New Ideas Chamber Orchestra (NICO).

What experiences, in your opinion, mostly shaped you as a jewellery artist? Without any doubt, these are studies at Vilnius Academy of Art – basic knowledge of craft and professional art was gained here, Legnica jewellery festivals that unite a lot of contemporary jewellery artists and internship at Tanel Veenre to whom I am especially grateful for meaningful conversations and evoking the passion for creative work.

Besides your real name – Lauryna Kiškytė, you also have a pseudonym Ver Sacrum. What does it mean?

It was the first attempt to show my creative work and I had no courage to present my real name, so I searched for a suitable pseudonym. I confess that I did not invent this pseudonym. Ver Sacrum (Latin - Sacred Spring) is the title of art journal that was published in times of Secession. Anyway, this phrase become very homey and intimate – it combines the art history period I love and the awakening of nature (it is a coincidence that I was born when the first spring birds – larks, arrive) and also makes a clue about sacrality, which is very important to me.

One can live without jewellery, but it is still wanted. Why is it so?

Jewellery has a long 25000 years history. Can you imagine that human beings have been decorating themselves for 25000 years?! Probably, it got into our blood.

What jewellery artists are authorities to you?

Laima Kėrienė is an authority both in life and creative work; Eimantas Ludavičius who is known for plastic miniatures but who is equal to a high level jeweller in his preciseness; aforementioned Tanel Veenre, mystical Kadri Malk: I was able to study the biography and creative work of this fantastic artist more closely in Tallinn; Ruudt Peters who is amazing for his playfulness and use of sacral objects in art.

Is a saying “the shoemaker's wife is the worst shod” relevant to jewellers? It is true for me personally! Nevertheless, I start to feel a jewellery famine, so I gradually let jewellery in my daily life, but do it in more conscious and responsible manner.

What‘s next? My dream placement in Italy at Barbara Paganin, continuing studies and deepening knowledge and, hopefully, my first solo exhibition.

What advice would you give to young artists who are at the beginning of their creative path?

Do not fear and do everything with lots of love.

More works of Lauryna:

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