BERENICE NOËL
NOËL BÉRÉNICE

Was there a significant moment when you decided to follow your path as a jewellery maker?

When I left my native Reunion Island aged 18 years, I moved to Paris to study art. At that moment, my main medium was oil painting, in which I obsessively represented body details, portraits… In parallel to the paintings, I started making sculptures from plastic knives and forks that I burned and shaped with the flame of a lighter in my small student room… Already, there was a real parallel with the practice of the jeweller, who also shapes his material, metal, by the flame. But the real trigger for jewellery was when I wanted to synthesize my interest in sculpture and body, to use the body as a support for the burned sculptures that I made… It was 4 years ago.

 

Can you tell us the process of making your pieces? What is the first thing you do?

The first step is narration. I first search to specify the story I want to tell and that will accompany the final pieces. I define some key words that will guide me throughout the process of making my pieces : for example, for my collection « Ecueil-moi », key-words were « trap », « seduction » and « misappropriation ». It is a phase of writing, amassement of artistic, cinematographic, literary references and materials, in order to build a visual universe, a context. I gather all the content in a sketchbook. After writing comes the drawings, so the second step of the process is still done on my sketchbook. I draw a lot of quick sketches without any color, just searching a global shape, and when the shape is chosen, I often proceed by the cutting and sticking of images, raising them with paint, felt… A kind of crafted photoshop, with a really realistic result! The third stage is the production of the pieces, during which they evolve a lot, especially in terms of proportions, harmony with the body, balance of elements between them, but also balance within the collection, between the different pieces composing it.

 

 

Who’s your main inspiration for your work?

My main inspiration for my work is my muse – this mermaid who creates jewels as traps for men with what she finds around her. She is a mixture of mythical femme fatales such as Lorelei, Judith, Salome, Lilith… However, if I have to mention someone who really exists and who encouraged me to go deep in my universe, I would say that Philip Sajet, with whom I did an internship, taught me a lot.  1 /  2 He transmitted to me his taste for the work of noble and precious materials like gems and gold, his requirement to create the right piece, with the appropriate story, title, shape… He also shows me how to get free from jewellery standards while still being in the continuity : this is how in my collection “Ecueil-moi”, stones are pierced, wandering in a metal structure that looks like a fishcreel, gold meets rusty hooks, diverted from their primary functionality… But at the end, the pieces are still wearable and recognizable jewels such as rings, earrings, necklaces…

 

What does jewellery represent for you?

It was at the age of 7 that I had the right to pierce my ears, “the age of reason” according to my parents ; for my majority, which also corresponds to the moment I left my native island and my family to study in Paris, I received from my father a beautiful gold necklace with a sapphire, and from my mother a gold ring she herself received as a present ; to mark the end of my apprenticeship in his studio, it is a pair of earrings that made me dream so much that my tutor gave me… So for me, jewels can be the witnesses objects of the life’s great stages of a person. But what I love the most about jewellery is the game, the creative freedom it can allow. As a makeup but more perennial, as a tattoo but less definitive, you can choose every morning by putting on a pair of earrings rather than another to become someone else… the Vahiné, the heart-to-take girl or the taken-heart one, the femme fatale… You can pass all the messages you want through a jewel!

 

How important is it to you that your pieces be worn?

It can come that I make some pieces for the beauty of a gesture, some pieces more conceptual than ergonomic. But for me, jewels accompany the daily, the extraordinary and the everyday moments of a person’s life. That’s why it’s important for me that the pieces I create are worn. They won’t be worn every day, I imagine my pieces to be worn mostly in special occasions, in the extraordinary moments, where one wishes to be particularly highlighted… One day, someone told me to only create the pieces I would like to wear on my wedding day, and I think it was a really good advice! Moreover, in some of my pieces, the fact that they are worn even participates in their aesthetics. In all the necklaces of my collection, the silver clasps are pearly-like and quite raw when buying it, and will polish only by using them, in areas of friction. It is the action of putting on and taking off one of those necklaces, the action of living with it which will make it more beautiful, more shiny, unlike some other jewels which, by dint of being worn, lose from their first brilliance and tarnish. Traces of wearing can have an ornamental value to me!

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IRENE BELFI
GALLERY

P.IVA 02270080563

VIA NINO BIXIO 12, MILANO
M2 PORTA VENEZIA

INFO@IRENEBELFI.COM
+39 0249618176

Photo credits
(Portraits and Gallery space)
Studio LAPSUS