Monday, September 30, 2013

A Chat with JamFactory's Alice Potter

Alice began working as Program Manager in the Metal Design Studio in 2012 after working as the Technical Officer in the Jewellery and Metal studio at the University of South Australia for four years. She completed a Bachelor of Graphic Design in 2004, a Bachelor of Visual Arts [Jewellery] in 2006 and received First class Honours in Visual Arts in 2012. Alice was an access tenant at Adelaide's Gray Street Workshop for over four years and regularly exhibits her work throughout Australia. 
We are focusing the attention of our blog on the people who make JamFactory what it is. Watch for interviews with staff, associates and the many artists who hire studios and studio time at JamFactory. 
On to our chat with Alice Potter:

Alice Potter at her work bench at JamFactory

A Tiny Pile of Black Shiny Things brooch

How would you describe your work?
Colourful. Busy. Organised mess. Wearable (even if it doesn’t look like it). The work doesn’t take itself too seriously. Happy and fun (but never ‘quirky’). Not for everyone, but that’s ok.  

Exploding tummy pig necklace

You studied Graphic Design. How did you go from this to Jewellery Design?
Even through highschool I had always been interested in, and was making jewellery (wire and beads, etc) and creating tangible ideas, but during my Visual Communications degree using computers to present my ideas felt a little backwards. What I wanted to say never came out how I wanted it to look, except the times I was cutting up bits of paper and card then colour photocopying assignments instead of using computer programs. 
I enrolled in an Intro to Jewellery winter elective at the then UniSA Underdale Campus and there was no turning back. My sister convinced me to finish my degree instead of quit half way through (which I am now thankful for), and after 18 months of interesting design classes and saving hard earned retail-monkey dollars for a new Bachelor, I enrolled in the Visual Arts and Applied Design degree at AC Arts TAFE. 

I'm Not A Kid Anymore
All The Good Things You Can Think Of brooch pair

Are friends constantly giving you stuff they think you'd like to use in your work?
Yes!  And I love it. Sometimes it’s ‘no this actually would be better given to the Op Shop or bin’ stuff, but most of the time I can find useful things – even if it means chopping it up or melting it down.  

Fake Nails Darling brooch

Where do you find most of the objects you use in your work? Are you always on the lookout for more material to work with?
The bits and pieces that I use in my work come from literally anywhere and everywhere; my grandpa’s pear tree off-cuts, op shops, garage sales and two dollar shops. I prefer to use second hand items as it gives the objects new purpose, plus it means I haven’t just gone out and bought the most convenient things at hand. I like the challenge of finding and using random gold (sometimes actual gold) knowing that I won’t be able to just go out and buy another one if I use my limited supplies or my idea needs a second go.  

She'll Be Apples - Bang Bang!

You started working at JamFactory in 2012 as the Production Manager for the Metal Design Studio. How do you find the teaching/managing role compared to the designer /maker role?
Completely opposite and complimentary at the same time. When you design and make for yourself you are in a bubble of thought, process and, well, you. When you teach, manage and tech for a team of people you have their skills and interests in the front of your mind, as well as making sure the jobs are completed to the best of everyone’s ability in the timeframe available. Making in my own practice gives me a good idea about how a job can be made, managed and delivered by others, and managing others also gives me a better understanding about how I can meet my own personal deadlines.  

She'll Be Apples - Here's Looking At Your

How is JamFactory different to Uni SA where you were employed as the technical officer in the Jewellery and Metal Studio there?
I look at JamFactory as post-tertiary training and development, whereas the university is somewhere where you attend to learn the skills to start or further your artistic career. At the Uni I was teaching people skills and then we would all part ways to other jobs, workspaces, studios or classes. At JamFactory there are a group of staff and associates who all already have the skills you were teaching at the Uni, which you collectively apply to real life jobs and clients. Then at the end of the day, or on the ‘non-Jam days’, we all are still here working on our own practices side by side at our personal benches.
 His Mo Mo Had Mojo brooch
Your work is very colourful. Has it always been this way?
Yes and no. I love colour and have forever loved rainbows (I know, right!). I have always tried to make colour the focus or a part of my work, and some of my earlier pieces were quite subtle and restrained (even no colour at all – shock, horror!). But these days I just think ‘stuff it’ and make it all as bright as I want. Having said that I do take great care in which colours go where. Too much green will make a blue piece look like something under the sea, and too much red will make something look… too red. A mini fluro green dot or a tiny orange CZ can either make or break a piece – it’s actually not as easy as it looks!  
Sticks and Stones brooch

 You recently worked in conjunction with several other artists, each of you contributing something to a particular piece of jewellery. How was this experience different to your normal process? What was it  like to give up control?
When I start a piece I stare at it for ages and then get fed up procrastinating, so I ‘throw’ bits of paint and plastic and other colourful tid-bits its way until it resembles something I am visually satisfied with. With the Mixquisite project I was constantly aware I would be handing it on to someone else to contribute to, so you never really finished (or started) a piece fully. It was bizarre seeing something you had worked on and believed to have ‘OMG made it so amazing’ in the final exhibition look completely different. But that’s the game, and that’s the project. If I was a control freak I wouldn’t have said ‘Yes’ to Lisa Furno when she proposed the idea to me back in early 2012. 

A few potential supplies?...
What are you listening to in the studio at the moment?
I can’t help singing along to my music in the studio – it makes me happy and more productive (I hope everyone else doesn’t mind!). So I suppose the massively eclectic mix that happens to be on my iPod at the time, but that’s always changing.  

Today is a Good Day - triple shot Jade, glass, lapis and faux pearl 2
The best place you’ve seen your jewellery worn or displayed?

Sometimes you walk down the street and you see a complete stranger wearing one of your pieces. That’s the best feeling – knowing that a little bit of you means something special to someone you hardly know. And it also feels like you know a tiny secret about that person. It makes me smile every time.