Q&A with Greensmith artist Alicia Lane

Q&A with Greensmith artist Alicia Lane

During the course of the Greensmith exhibition you might have spotted jeweller Alicia Lane, working away at our in store studio. Alicia Lane is one of four exhibiting Greensmith artists in residence, along with Clare Poppi, Luke Maninov and Shanna Muston, who have spent time at our pop up studio creating work.

Artisan caught up with Alicia while in residence to ask of her experiences of the exhibition and her perspective on ecologically sustainable design principles.


GREENSMITH artist - Alicia LaneGood afternoon Alicia, thank you for taking some time out of creating to talk to us! To start with could you please tell us about your creative practice and what inspires you?

I am inspired by nature and our relationships to it, following a tradition of enquiry that has been important to artists and scientists alike. I am interested in our relationships with nature and how culture affects our perceptions of it. I am also interested in the elemental properties of metal and how I interact with it as a craftsperson. In my work I aim to explore my relationship with the material and to create a conversation between it and myself as I work to create forms inspired by nature. I like to try and capture a sense of life in my work, and that raises questions about the nature of the material and my intent as a human being when replicating natural forms.


GREENSMITH artist - Alicia LaneAlicia, as a contemporary jewellery maker, what role does ecological design and sustainability play within your practice?

Firstly, nature itself is a big inspiration for my work. My work often relates replicating patterns in nature and observing the relationship between nature and one’s self. However I came to realise a discord between my work which honours nature, but is made with material which is ecologically destructive. Whist completing a degree in Fine Arts at Q.C.A I attended a conference called the “Green Symposium”. Here I gained a deeper understanding of environmental impact from gold and silver mining industries.  These issues concerned me, I attended another workshop lead by the Ethical Metalsmiths an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of ecologically sustainable jewellery making practices, who taught me the value of using recycled materials. It is possible to source gold and silver which is in need of repurposing and recycling, I also try to use natural chemicals in my jewellery making process whenever possible.


How have you enjoyed being a part of the Greensmith exhibition?

It has been great; an exhibition which has resulted in many landmarks for me. This is the first time I have received an artist fee and will mark my first international show once the exhibition moves to San Francisco! Also, interestingly my works have been displayed alongside the work of my lecturer at QCA  in this exhibition!


Describe a typical day in your studio?

It’s important to define my studio time when juggling a busy life, and I work at home which has both advantages and disadvantages.  Metalsmithing is highly process orientated so I’ll usually have several projects going at different stages, whether that might be cutting components like links for chain, or discs that will become spherical forms, soldering pieces together or annealing metal to enable it’s workability, or setting pieces in pitch for repoussee, it takes a lot of these processes before a work approaches the stage where I can assemble it and think about cleaning and polishing. As a lot of these processes are repetitive it’s good to be able to alternate between them to use different parts of my body. I have ceramic works that need attention from time to time as they are at different stages of drying, and sometimes I’m working on designs, photography or works on paper. I have a nice view from my studio onto my little rainforest garden and some guinea pigs and a bird to talk to now and then, and good music.


GREENSMITH artist - Alicia LaneWhat are common challenges that contemporary jewellery makers face when establishing their practice?

Prioritising time is important as it’s easy to get caught up in the need to earn an immediate income, rather than one that takes time to establish.  Because of the tools required in this specialised craft it can also take considerable investment to get well set up, though it’s surprising what you can achieve with a few simple tools. I have been buying tools when I can afford them so I have a good little set up to get going with. Another important aspect is getting your work out there, and networks like Jewellers and Metalsmiths Guild (JMGQ) are very useful in this regard, as is making connections with retailers and galleries.  Entering competitions and other call-outs is also a very useful way of getting your work out there and gaining recognition.  Most importantly, you have to keep making!


GREENSMITH artist - Alicia LaneWhat are some simple ways in which jewellery makers can make their practice more eco friendly?

I use a citric acid pickle (I buy it from the baking section in the supermarket) and pine resin pitch that dissolves in methylated spirits rather than turps.  I’m quite sensitive to chemicals so generally avoid them anyway so it’s a natural progression to have an eco-friendly studio.  I use recycled silver, which I can buy from a supplier, and have made commissions using the client’s own jewellery pieces which held sentimental value and had either broken or were unworn, transforming them into new and treasured pieces.  I also avoid excessive packaging when presenting my work and re-use packaging where possible – some of my boxes are like a record of my exhibition history!