The first jewelry created by Angela Ciobanu was a ring which she lost a month later in an airport. This is just the beginning to her story which she continues in David Sandu‘s workshop in 2010. Being an architecture graduate, she applies the geometrical and mathematical principles she learned in college when creating jewelry and in time she discovers an experimental approach. Two years later, she moved to Vienna where she rented a studio so she can make jewelry. You can find more interesting stuff about Angela by reading our conversation with her.
keywords: jewelry, contemporary, ephemeral, experiment
Summer evenings are for… eating watermelon and getting lost in the streets (maybe not both at the same time, though)
A song that cheers me up instantly… Thivery Corporation, ‚Omid’.
A dream I want to turn into reality… To get to Samarkand.
Few people know about me that… many years ago, I learnt Arabic and, later on, Farsi. I still know (too) little of each.
I never leave without… a bottle of water.
Favorite ice cream flavour… caramel and macadamia nuts.
One crazy thing I did… three: I moved to a foreign country, I rented a studio, and went on making jewellery.
The colour that represents me… green.
A place that I love in Vienna… my studio.
3 contemporary jewelry creators that I admire… I could never name only three.
Violeta Năzare: Hello, Angela! After we were amazed last month by the 2016 edition of contemporary jewelry fair AUTOR, we’ve very happy to talk to yet another talent that launched its career through AUTOR. Your first public appearance was at AUTOR #4 where you one the prize for best debut; how do you prepare for this kind of events and what advice would you have for those who participate for the first time?
Angela Ciobanu: Hello! I am the one who thanks you for the invitation. I am certainly not a talent, but yes, I first showcased my work in public at Autor, almost 6 years ago (already!). Prior to the event, I was very, very anxious and all I wanted was to see everything sorted out as fine as possible. I had designed an installation for the stand, something quite complicated. The ones who were supposed to produce the main elements for the installation told me on the last evening that the pieces wouldn’t be ready for the fair at all. So, on the opening morning, I was already decided not to go, I was absolutely sure it would be a total disaster. I left for the fair in the last moment and I showcased my pieces on one of the standard tables. At the end of the fair, as I didn’t have much to pack, I was very quickly ready to leave. But before leaving, I went to say goodbye to Dan Piersinaru, who, in his turn, was looking for me as well. That’s when I found out I had won the only award of the fair at that moment, that for the best new entry and best collection.
As you can see, I am not at all entitled to giving advice.
I still wonder, before every single event, why I am doing what I am doing. But after these six years I still believe you can do a lot with very little, even when – or, especially when – everything seems to be upside down.
V.N.: Which do you think are the main elements that differentiate classic from contemporary jewelry? What attracted you to this field and what position does contemporary jewelry have in the current Romanian context?
Angela Ciobanu: The classical jewelry is essentially ornamental and stresses upon precious materials. In contemporary jewelry, the value of the precious metals or gems is ignored, the focus is on the message you intend to deliver, on innovative techniques and alternative materials.
I am often asked what made me go for this field and I honestly don’t know what to answer. I started sketching jewelry while I was working in Belgium, in an architecture office. I think it came out of the need for transposing, on a much smaller scale, what I had learned in architecture. A sort of a reversed ‚human – designed object’ relationship, in which everything is taking place on the human body, not around it. At a certain moment, I came back to Bucharest and that’s when I visited David’s studio, where I eventually stayed as an apprentice for some time. Ironically enough, I was to find out later that there are very good contemporary jewelry schools in Belgium, I could have enrolled to study there. But I am happy with how things came out, I have the feeling I had the opportunity to learn a lot more as an apprentice there. Ever since the Romanian contemporary art scene has faced important changes and contemporary jewelry claims its place among the arts, going far beyond the hobby interests. There are more and more talented artists whose work I hope to see appreciated accordingly.
V.N.: Freshness and feminity come in mind when talking about your creations, giving structure to a powerful message. What does your creative process look like and how much time do you invest in one piece?
Angela Ciobanu: Thank you, if this is how my jewelry is perceived, I am happy. I have recently reeled a silk filament out of a cocoon. I don’t know how exactly it should be done, so it took me ages. But in the end, I had an improvised spool on which one could find many layers of a very thin and beautiful silk thread. Not that my works could ever be as beautiful as that filament, but this pretty much what my „working process” looks like: an absurdly thin and intricately layered thread which, at a certain point (after ages) turns into something a lot more coherent.
The time that I invest in a piece differs a lot from one piece to another, depending on its complexity and on my mood at that moment, as well. It can take hours or many days.
V.N.: What kind of jewelry do you think is the most expressive – the ring, necklace, earrings? Do you have a favorite?
Angela Ciobanu: I don’t believe a certain type of jewelry is, generally speaking, more expressive than the other. Each piece bears its own expressiveness. I have worked a lot of rings and, lately, many brooches. But I like the earrings best (and yes, I rarely work earrings).
V.N.: How do you choose your materials and with what would you want to experiment with in the future?
Angela Ciobanu: Over the last years I’ve experimented quite a lot, and I managed thus, one try after another, to handle techniques I haven’t been taught or about which I could find little information. That’s how I got to work with vitreous enamel, granulation or keum boo. I started working, without knowing whether I was doing the right thing, or if I would ever get to any result at all. Fortunately, I’ve seen my attempts turning into something I am content with, but I still don’t know whether I did things „the way they should be done”.
I always choose my materials considering what I intend to express. In „Forget-Me-Not”, for instance, I had in mind the idea of fragility and ephemerality. I didn’t know how I would manage to render these ideas best, but in the end, I decided to work with silk paper and saw blades.
I want to try working with porcelain, it is something I have been postponing for some time now, but I hope I am able to do it soon.
V.N.: What do you think people expect from jewelry nowadays, what role does it have? How about you? What are your expectations from your jewelry?
Angela Ciobanu: I believe that people’s expectations vary a lot, depending on each one’s personality or on the context a certain piece of jewelry is worn. And I don’t think a jewel has a predetermined role. For many, the jewelry itself still indicates a certain status. For others, it may represent an extension of their personality.
I never have expectations about my work (each time I exhibit a new work and don’t know what to expect, I wish with all my heart not to make a fool of myself). But I do like to receive reactions, of any kind. If my work is strong enough to draw someone’s attention and their reactions, then I am happy. It means I haven’t wasted the viewer’s time (or, at least, not completely). I would like people to leave with a ‘butterflies-in-the-stomach’ feeling and the impression that they will not forget my work too soon.
V.N.: You started turning your first sketches into reality in David Sandu’s workshop, under his guidance. He is the founder of Assemblage Contemporary Jewellery School. Tell us about your apprenticeship: what did you find surprising and when did you feel your training was over?
Angela Ciobanu: The first jewelry studio I’ve ever stepped into was, indeed, David’s. This was happening in March 2010 and I stayed there for the two following years. When you discover a thing, every moment that brings you closer to that thing seems surprising. It would be difficult now to point at one thing that surprised or impressed me more. However, what I liked the most was the fact that nothing has been imposed on me, no rigid learning structure. I discovered the techniques as I was working, rather more chaotically, transposing my sketches directly into metal. I have been helped a lot and I have learned a lot.
I don’t think you ever feel like you’ve learned enough, in fact, I think that every moment that you spend working brings you something new. But I do believe that you can reach a point where you understand why they say that you have to learn as much as possible so that you can afterward forget everything. If the road you are walking on is not yours, it’s like you had learned everything in vain.
V.N.: Before you became a jewelry creator, you worked a few years as an architect as you graduated from Ion Mincu University of Architecture. How important is architecture now in your life?
Angela Ciobanu: After having started making jewelry, for the first two years, I continued working on some architecture projects. Everything I was earning at that time was anyway invested further on in materials for jewelry. But doing both at the same time is exhausting and totally unrealistic. After moving to Vienna, four years ago, I focused on jewelry only. However, everything I learned during those years while studying and working in architecture helps me in my current work. Apart from purely esthetics matters, or a certain discipline in designing, the most important „ability” I developed while working on architecture projects is, perhaps, that of working for about 30 hours continuously (something silly and never to be recommended, but which turns out to be very useful in certain moments).
V.N.: In our insider series we had the pleasure to talk with David Sandu but also with Vika Tonu, another important presence at the AUTOR fairs. Do you read feeder? If yes, what interviews did you enjoy the most?
Angela Ciobanu: I only had the chance to meet Vika recently, in Bucharest, but I had been following her activity from a distance and I was very pleased in seeing the successful results of her collaboration with Alex Nimurad. It was also a pleasure to read your interview with her. Thanks to feeder.ro, I’ve also discovered Ioana Sisea’s work – one of the nicest surprizes I’ve had lately.
V.N.: We enjoyed talking to you and we wish you success onwards! What are your plans for this summer? Are you working on a new collection?
Angela Ciobanu: Thank you, once again. I am very happy, as well, to be featured on feeder.
I currently have several ongoing projects, and there is something bigger scheduled for autumn. But for now, my most important plan is to take some holidays this summer and spend time with my family (these two things became a privilege I am rarely granted to lately).
The pleasure is all mine, I wish you a lot of success for all the projects to come!
Words: Violeta Năzare
Cover photo © Michael Schindegger