I was fortunate to be able to both attend and participate in the one day conference Flux - Fair Luxury held at the Goldsmiths' Centre London on 19 April 2016. I was so impressed that the conference sold out in 2 weeks and had a waiting list of 30 people! The keen interest hopefully allayed any fears the organisers may have had about the importance of the event.
This was the inaugural conference organised by the Flux team and it was very well received. The enthusiasm and sense of optimism at the event was palpable. The hard work and ambitions of the Flux team saw their idea for the conference become a reality. I suspect it all moved too fast for each of them to fully appreciate their achievements. The day covered lots of different approaches and ideas towards improving the environmental and ethical standards of the jewellery industry.
Orsola de Castro, Co Founder of the Fashion Revolution Day talked about her evolution into a Fair Fashion activist with enthusiasm and drive. Her approach was accessible and based on the discussion that ensued, quite possibly (hopefully) infectious.
Lina Villa, Executive Director of Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) talked about the origins of ARM and how she and the alliance had been developing and changing.
Interestingly the idea of a journey was used by several speakers and I think that allowed for the room for all to understand that there wasn't an absolute we are all aiming for at this moment. It is very much a journey.
When I started my practice in the early 1990s producing jewellery and tableware in small scale production my aim was to be environmentally friendly. I used a lot of metal retrieved from waste. I used cardboard unbleached packaging that could be recycled or would biodegrade. This was in part because I had a strong dislike for flocked plastic jewellery boxes and bags. My clients at the time were never as excited about my unbleached packaging as I thought they should/would be.
It was around 2000 when I was rethinking my practice undertaking masters research that I started to think about other aspects of my studio practice, the chemicals I used for example and the stones I was using. I started to think that stones being natural was not enough, I needed to know where they had come from and how they were sourced. It has definitely been a journey for me in terms of understanding my priorities and reconsidering all aspects of my studio practices. This is an ongoing process.
The conference had two sessions of same timed workshops. In the first session I went to one focussed on Green Jewellery Workshop Practices and Sourcing led by Greg Valerio MBE and Ute Decker.
Greg is a very passionate presenter, I'd last seen him speak at a conference organised by Ethical Metalsmiths in association with their Radical Jewelry Makeover at Alburquerque in 2011. He talked about work he had been undertaking with gold miners in Uganda to make their mining practices safer and more efficient. It was inspiring to hear how a small amount of money from our perspective could purchase simple, yet significant equipment that increases the amount of gold retrieved and significantly reduces the time time involved in processing: 1 day of manual work reduced to 2 hours of mechanised work!
Ute talked about ways to green studio practices, from choices of materials through to chemicals and printing. Her talk was a well placed to follow Greg's. It was great to hear how Ute has been approaching this in her own studio and to meet her face to face for the first time. She too was a lively and enthusiastic presenter.
In the second session of workshops I was involved with leading one with Peter Crump from Vipa Designs and Samantha Rose from September Rose.
What are the challenges of responsible sourcing from the perspective of:
· education, (working with new students)
· manufacturing, (working with designers looking to upscale their business to sustainable level)
· designer-maker, (working through the practical issues of responsible sourcing)
Peter, Samantha and had been in contact with me by email, it was great to meet them face to face on the day. I think we were well selected to present together. Our approaches were complementary and we received some great questions.
I hope this will be just the start of our conversation.
these are occasional posts about the things that are inspiring me, or that are happening around.