Interview with Patrícia Correia Domingues: No Union without Fragmentation
Brooches originally served as fastenings for cloaks and gowns. Only after the invention of buttons they became purely ornamental. One key attribute of all jewellery that they never forfeited, however, was to be a bearer of meaning and a badge of distinction. Unfettered by the limitations intrinsic to pieces worn around the neck, finger or wrist, brooches present a chance for contemporary jewellery artists and designers to negotiate fundamental design parameters such as shape, colour, material, and composition on a miniature scale. The objects now emerging beyond the bounds of the mass market at the interface of art, design, and craftsmanship, moreover, seem to manage perfectly well without precious metals.
Patrícia Correia Domingues’ work is characterised by her interaction with stones. Her massive brooches interspersed by fracture lines are made from industrial construction materials, that skilfully disguise their weight. We chatted with her about the function of jewellery and her preference for stone-like materials.
It seems that you most of the time work with stone-like materials. How do you choose them?
I got in touch with artificial materials for the first time when I started my master’s in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. Idar-Oberstein is famous for its stone industry. There you find companies selling rough stones and a small parallel industry selling construction materials as well. These materials have caught my interest, because they exactly look like stone but behave differently, being a kind of plastic in the end.
For a long time, I have been working with both stone and construction materials. And this combination turned out to be a perfect match. Stones are a source of inspiration for me. I tried to understand how they work, the internal rules they hold, their potential qualities, and the fragilities.
On the other hand, there is construction material, a massive and industrial block, perfect in that sense. No matter where you cut you will find the same. When you work with natural stone you always start from square one, because a stone is unpredictable and there are no two equal stones on this planet. Construction material is stable and therefore allows me to provoke unpredictable processes in the material myself.
What do you want to express with your work? What is your concept behind?
I can’t say that there is one single concept or idea that I want to express. I am used to work with my hands directly on the material and most of the times it is not so much about what I want to express than what appears on my table while working. It is an ongoing process of manipulation and observation and through this dialog, ideas slowly gain shape.
At some point I started working on the theme of the line and its double meaning. By drawing a line, I provoke a separation in space or in the material, but those two sides marked by the line also form a union. The result of this process was a general interest in the division of things: of the earth, at times natural, at other times provoked; the division of people, of elements, of processes, of space and of what defines our beginnings and our ends, always keeping in mind that one cannot speak of fragmentation without speaking of union.
At the moment I am approaching different ways of entering into the material, trying to free it while at the same time finding new limits, sometimes changing and at other times respecting its order.
Most of your works are brooches. Why?
I think each part of the body asks for a different idea behind. To make a brooch is, of course, not the same as doing a necklace or a bracelet. For the last four years, I have been doing mainly brooches but necklaces as well. In this case, it is the function of each object that leads me to explore different ideas.
Brooches are something monumental for me, they are body. The chest and the shoulder need a strong and sculptural image; something that will remain forever in static posture.
On the other hand, a necklace requires movement, a different relation to the body. The way you have to move in order to put on the piece has nothing to do with something static. It is about interrelation and organic movements.
What function does jewellery have nowadays in your eyes?
Exactly the same as 75.000 years ago. It only adapted to the social developments that we are all subject to. But it still represents our status and believes. Of course there are different kinds of jewellery. The field of contemporary or artistic jewellery has been trying to connect not only different areas of the jewellery field but other disciplines as well, such as art, craft and design.
Where do you position yourself between craft, arts and design?
I guess, I would consider my work as a mixture of art and craft. Even if I admire the work of many designers and it is a topic that interests me as much as art and craft, my creative process is a result of the subjects that I have studied. I have never studied at a design school and I have never asked questions in my work that a designer has to deal with. I let myself dive into a world of intuitions and my work emerges form the constant and direct contact with the material.
I’m not sure, but I think that craft is my tool, an instrument. Craft is the way I have learned how to make things. And art is the process, the ability of questioning the material rather than giving answers.