Published: 16 November 2016
South African born Western Australian jeweller and object maker Felicity Peters is a multi-award-winning artist, whose passion for arts and crafts has seen her develop a successful career and exhibit at a number of prestigious exhibitions both in Australia and overseas.
She is the only jeweller to have been awarded a Creative Development Fellowship in 2009 (at $60,000) and her work is featured in prestigious collections around Australia including Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.
We asked Felicity a few questions about her work:
Q. Tell me about your creative path that led you to become an artist.
A. I have always been interested in arts and crafts. As an eight-year-old (approximately) I can remember being part of a puppetry group, and hand making puppets out of wood and stringing them. And then taking part in plays including Midsummer’s Dream by Shakespeare. However it wasn’t until I came to WA in 1966 that I was able to go to an art school, Claremont School of Art and then later to Curtin University.
Q. How did you develop your love for working with precious metals and stones?
A. (This was) a progression from doing clay at Claremont school of Art, and then trying silver jewellery there. I loved the fact that I could work with a sheet of metal, bend it, texture it, saw, hammer, and create so many shapes from a flat sheet. I also loved the fact that I was following the in the path of so many ancient metalsmiths, even though it is a very very miniscule way. (I love artisan traditions and worry that we are losing them) I loved the fact that metal was more permanent, that it survives better than clay. I loved the fact that I needed to LOVE the metal, to take care and give time to the processes.
Q. You create both art objects and jewellery. What encouraged you to branch off into these two directions, rather than opting for one or the other?
A. It is getting harder and harder to make a secure living as an artist. The financial climate meant that I applied for a grant from the DCA ($27,000) in 2014 to develop a range of objects and jewellery using loss wax casting in an effort to increase sales.
I have always made objects in the past, but they have tended to be for commissions or solo shows. I also like the scale of working larger and expressing some ideas that translate better to a larger scale. I have made quite a few objects for trophies and awards.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A. Many areas. Politics, life changing experiences, travel, people, landscape, colour… I love colour… it brightens life and people. It’s easy to wear black and not have to think about mix and matching!
Q. Describe your typical work day.
A. I start at about 8-9am, but sometimes stop and work in the garden... my workshop overlooks my garden and the bird bath. I usually finish about 6pm - sometimes later.
Ninety-five per cent of the time if I watch TV at night I have a piece of work in my hand to file, polish, price, or I will sit there making earring hooks...I love what I do so it is never a chore!
Q. Describe your creative process. Do you follow a similar method for your work, or do your ideas evolve more organically?
A. I take lots and lots of photos when I travel, which often provide inspiration. I usually do very quick sketchy type drawings... If it is a piece that is more detailed I will write down each step, so that the process can be resolved.
Sometimes I have an idea, and after the quick sketch will follow my intuition. Sometimes pieces are left and I come back to them later. I will sometimes deviate because I have a sudden idea which need to be explored, used or even not used until later.
Q. What has your experience been like as an artist in Western Australia? Eg: have you found it challenging to work in an isolated place, do you feel there is a lot of support here, do you think our isolation is a creative driver?
A. I feel that the support has gradually waned over the years. I am very disappointed that we no longer have a crafts body to support, encourage and promote us. I am known for my vocal disapproval of this lack of a craft body.
However, I appreciate the support I have been given by the Department of Culture and the Arts (DCA) and its peer assessment panels over the years in being successful in grants applications.
Without this support I would not have been able to achieve what I have... (in turn I obviously need to continually show the DCA that I am professional about my work, win awards, feature in books).
We do live in an isolated state, and in many ways this makes me strive harder. But I am thankful of the opportunity to travel and to broaden my horizons. I am constantly amazed by the creativity of so many artists!
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
A. (I have) a solo show in Poland in 2018, and (will be) continuing to make work, develop new ideas and enter exhibitions.