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Social conflicts and controversies in the jewelry by Kim Paquet

Social conflicts and controversies in the jewelry by Kim Paquet

What can be more fun than to know the artist behind the handmade creation? Buying handmade (I am talking about professional handmade, of course), does not only give you the quality thing, but also the energy and the story of the creator! Sometimes inspiration comes not from beautiful things but from problems and social inadequacies…In this interview I keep discovering the jewelry artists working in Canada. Today the Montreal-based jeweler Kim Paquet. You know who made your jewelry!

I discovered the works by Kim at the exhibition of this year’s graduates of École de joaillerie de Montréal and saw an artist with a deep idea behind them.

When and how did you start to create jewelry?

I started making jewelry for fun in 2011. My mother, being very manual and creative with her hands, used belts to change the original look of her bags. I was always attracted by all metal parts that were not used on those belts. The stories behind each of her pieces inspired me to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces with recycled materials. At that time I was working with troubled teens in a rehabilitation centre – the mood and the context of that place were not easy to handle emotionally. Then I started to create jewelry fo various Christmas artisanal markets in the region of Quebec. To see people interested in my designs made me feel happy. One day I saw a woman in a shopping mall wearing one of my necklaces. It became a happy trigger to change the career direction – I understood that I want to experience that feeling again and again.

For three years by now I have been living in Montreal.  Actually, I have not yet fully left behind my career in social intervention – I am currently working with the street addicts. For me, jewelry is the best way to find the inner balance and the connection between two completely different activities.

Pieces created of the recuperated metal parts of the belts and leather, 2011 – 2015
Pieces created of the recuperated metal parts of the belts and leather, 2011 – 2015

What education do you have?

After the high school, everything went very quickly. I did my DEC in delinquency intervention at the Cégep Garneau of Québec. Thereafter, I was engaged in a youth readaptation center where I worked with young people from 20 to 25 years old. I have to tell you… this 5 years were very challenging for me… I wanted to get out of my comfort zone to validate if I was really in the right place. So I took 1 year off to start the DEC at École de joaillerie de Montreal, affiliated with the Cégep du Vieux-Montreal. After 1 year, the choice was clear, I didn’t want to go back to my old slippers. It was the beginning of a great adventure. I have just finished the DEC and I have again the desire to get out of my comfort zone! It’s why in August, I will move to Halifax to begin the program “Bachelor of fine arts, Major in jewellery design and Metalsmithing” at NSCAD. I’m really excited by this project, which will be the best way to grow at a personal and artistic level!

The graduation project. Bracelet (silver, smoked quartz)
The graduation project. Pins (silver, concrete, sapphires)
The graduation project. Necklace (silver, concrete, agathe, leather)

What inspires you? What materials and ideas?

Working in the world of social intervention for 8 years, my creations are inspired by the experience of drug addicts living in an urban environment. I use elements of architectural design to illustrate the geographical contrast of the improvised shelters of homeless addicts and skyscrapers in downtown Montreal. Solid and complex structures are meant to disrupt the viewer’s sense of perspective and create a feeling of instability. The sharp angles and asymmetry are symbols of social tension present in the destructive world of addiction. Confronting noble and raw materials in my work exposes the very physical contradiction of lack and excess that is so vivid in the urban landscape of homelessness. Far from attempting any kind of reconciliation, my jewelry evokes the everyday violence that addicts face as they struggle to hold on to their place in society.

On the other hand, I love creating unique designs around the idea of a client. It’s a nice way to create new things. The piece of jewelry becomes personally bound to the person who will wear it. When someone approaches me for a special order; It’s an automatic Yes!

Special order. Ring (gold 14k, green diamonds)
Special order. Ring (gold 18k)
Special order. Necklace (gold 18k, silver, opal, sapphire)
Necklace (silver, raw diamond)
Brooch (silver, concrete)
Rings (silvr, gold 18k, raw black diamond)
Bracelet (silver)
Brooch (silver, brass, copper)

What does your ordinary workday look like?

I’m more productive in the morning. Ideally, I arrive at the workshop with a specific “to do list”. I like to take my time to settle down, drink my coffee and eat a little. When everything is ready, the fun starts and I stop only when my list is finished. I’m UNUSUALLY well organized, making my work space as organized as I am. You can see on this picture…

…Haha! Joking aside, I have to continually discipline myself and take time to clean everything. Sometimes it makes me lose too much time! When I work on a new idea or I’m just creating it seems like I forget about my environment. In the last few months, I noticed that a small 30 min of physical activity, like biking, before going to the workshop greatly increased my energy and productivity. But my biggest discovery to date was the music of “Kendrick Lamar”, “Run the jewels” and “Eminem” … when my bench neighbors accept to play their albums, it’s 100% pure happiness. A perfect atmosphere for my creative mind!

Are there any other artists that inspire you?

Since I arrived in Montreal, I am more open to the cultural world and this has made me discover, among other things, an artist whose work I was greatly affected by. I love the work of Montreal sculptor David Altmejd. It gives so much importance to any details that it is fascinating. Gigantic works where each space tells a story!

What fascinates me is the relationship between the infinitely small and the infinitely great. In fact, it is the same thing. David Altmejd


David Altmejd, The Flux and The Puddle, 2014. Photo: Quebec Portal

Some other inspirations for my art.

Various pieces by Kim.