In conversation with Laura Volpi
I met with Laura in her workshop in Milan. Wax blanks, silver jewelry elements, colored stones and new project sketches were all laying out on her table. She was preparing for the Inhorgenta exhibition in Munich, in which she has been participating for a few years now.
Laura Volpi has a degree in scenography from the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, but found her true calling in art jewelry, experimenting sculpture in a wearable dimension. I asked her to talk about her artistic journey, inspiration and contemporary jewelry art.
I started as a sculptor. Having won a scholarship, I completed an internship in the Marche region, where I studied with Arnaldo Pomodoro. Returning to Milan, he gave me a job at his studio, where not only did I learn various sculptural techniques, but also I got into the art of making jewelry, while admiring the creations of the incredible artisans of this workshop .
After that came a difficult period: I had an accident and could not work for a while. I therefore directed my focus to miniature, a sculptural jewelry form best suited for me at that time. That’s when my artistic research began.
My approach to jewelry creating is always sculptural. Behind each piece there is a thought, an idea, each one has its own story.
I work with wax a lot. It gives me freedom and opportunity in choosing shapes. I began as a sculptor, so this approach to material working is close to me. Metal is also interesting, especially soldering and finishing. The reaction of any given metal to the action of fire or chemical reagents that change its state is fascinating.
In the past I often used repoussé and chasing techniques in my work. This was at the beginning of my jewelry path. The jewelry pieces were emotional, visceral. These were my first studies.
The sculptural volumes of Arnaldo Pomodoro and milanese sculptor and jeweler Davide de Paoli, who introduced me to the basics of plate metal sculpture, influenced my jewelry work. While studying in London, I discovered the plastic works of the artist and sculptor Henry Moore, whose style is based on natural and organic forms. The works of the artists of Arte Povera, the Italian artists Lucio Fontana and Alberto Burri, and their space and materials research influenced the choice of my artistic expression.
I have lived in Salerno, on the Amalfi coast, for a long time. Life near the sea gives a lot of stimuli , in fact natural motifs are certainly pronounced in my works.
My goal is to establish a dialogue, to interact with the wearer through my work. The TERRA line consists of colorful raw stones, dressed in bronze or silver metal structures, sometimes accented with faceted sapphires, opals or diamonds. The centerpiece of this line is “La Bella e la Bestia ring” (the Beauty and the Beast). The porous structure of the metal contains irregular chalcedony grapes and yellow perfect citrine. And where is the beauty ? In perfection or enchanting heterogeneity?
In one of my favorite collections, TWIN, I touch upon the value of duality. Rings with colored enamel and organic lines consist of two similar, but not identical parts. There is also an element of “complicity”, since the ring can be worn on one or more fingers, revealing a color, or hiding it, or simply dividing it between two people.
In recent times I’ve been looking for simplicity and cleanliness. It is not easy for me since I have always done a lot to try and fill the empty space. But nowadays we need this simplicity: a lot of information, fuss, uncertainty. It’s hard to make a decision. I think right now it is important to find the essence, the harmony. I believe this balance was found in the IMPULSO collection. It is a clean, simple line with a subtle element of vibration on which the gaze lingers, with a sense of repetition and rhythm. It gives the idea of extreme synthesis in my opinion.
I am fascinated by the interaction and intersection of various disciplines. The creation of the DUETTO bracelet was the result of a collaboration with the French textile designer Côme Touvay. The sculptural silver elements are woven into a fabric consisting of different types of threads: flax, silver, mohair, cotton, silk. A constant repetition of elements creates a sense of movement and rhythm. At this moment we have put the project on standby, but we would like to return to it as soon as possible.
ABOUT CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY
There are many options and different proposals on the market . Everyone wants to stand out, express themselves, be recognizable. I believe there are two extremes: to remain completely fixed on your own ideas or, on the contrary, to drown out your inner voice and go in the direction of what the market dictates.
It’s very important to touch base regularly and compare your work with others: alone it is not easy at all. Discussion andinteraction are much needed.
Research, propose, make. Pomodoro taught me that. Inside each person there is a hidden idea, which is trapped by bias and prejudice, :creativity comes when you “throw away” this part of yourself. You could even do this on a piece of paper, for example. Visualize and find the interesting element. Understand that this is only the surface, and dig further until you get to something essential. Stop and develop this idea. Go deeper.
Never stop experimenting. When I studied in London, I often drew models using a pencil. It worked very well for me. One day a teacher approached me and offered to change this instrument: it was very interesting, because the gesture was not the same hence the mechanism had become very different.
And, of course, you always need a little bit of courage. Show your work and do not be afraid. Do not wait for perfection, because everyone has the right to make mistakes and no one is perfect.