Interview: Anna Betley
Luca Curci talks with Anna Betley during CONTEMPORARY VENICE 2021 – 9th Edition, at Misericordia Archives.
Anna Betley was born in 1979 in Jaslo, southeastern Poland. She currently lives and works in Kozienice in central Poland. She holds a Master of Arts degree. She graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Rzeszow and finished designing jewelry at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lodz. She is a member of Stowarzyszenie Twórców Form Złotniczych (Association of Goldsmith Designers) in Poland, National Guild of Arts and Crafts, The British Society of Enamellers and the Guild of Enamellers. Her works take part in exhibitions and jewellery competitions both in Poland and abroad and are a part of private collections owned by collectors of the goldsmith art. Anna is a finalist of the Saul Bell Design Award 2020. Jewelry exhibition with the message “In my opinion” “Eternal Ties” art jewelry exhibition in Kaifeng, Henan Province, China 2019 “Beauty frozen in time” Art jewelry exhibition in Kunming, China 2021, “Voice of Women” and “Power of Stone AgatART” Artistic Jewelry Exhibition at YES Gallery in Poznan 2021, XIII Art Biennale in Florence 2021 She has been creating artistic jewelry since 2006, working in the Minankari technique. It is a Georgian name for one of the oldest enamel techniques. In Poland, this method is known as hot-blast enamel (or cellular enamel), in Europe it is known as Cloisonne. It is an artistic enamel technique in which a composition is drawn from hand-shaped strips of silver or gold soldered at right angles to a decorative plaque. Each resulting cell is filled with a different color of enamel and then fired in a special furnace at 800°C. The process of inserting and firing the enamel is repeated several to a dozen times, depending on the size of the ornament and the variety of compositions and colors. Creating Minankrai is a laborious process that involves choosing the right shapes and colors. It requires appropriate skills and special knowledge.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Anna Betley – For me art is part of human nature and nature itself. Everything that surrounds me is an inspiration for the creative process, therefore I appreciate every element of everyday life and I take from it as much as possible. Art is a wholeness, an endless harmony on which the whole world is based. Each of us perceives it differently and processes it in their own way, which results in the diversity of art. I express myself artistically by means of jewelry made of enamel.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
AB – My work consists primarily of the beauty of the world – nature, people, culture, human creations from different parts of the world. A significant breakthrough in my life was a trip to Georgia. I had a chance to observe local art, lifestyle and the expression of everyday life through the extraordinary work of Georgian artists. It’s where I learned the technique of creating jewelry with enamel. I felt that this was the space I would like to explore. Having observed and learnt the unusual technique of minankari (cloisonne), I chose that way to create my own collections of jewelry, both artistic and functional.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
AB – My style is constantly changing as creating is a constant and limitless search for myself in the world of art. Initially, I based my work on folklore and ethnic motifs, which I interpreted in different ways and wove into the design accordingly. I began to be interested in combining enamel with other materials, such as wood or precious stones. Taking part in various competitions and thematic exhibitions, I began to go beyond the ordinary and look for motifs depicting different facets of the world. Working with other artists, I began to combine their work with enamel and give it new life
by creating jewelry. Currently, I create works on various subjects, sometimes I create specific collections, and sometimes single pieces based on independent projects.
LC – What is your creative process like?
AB – Creating jewelry begins from the moment, when a given thing, a pattern, an event or an independent thought insistently prompts me to create something new. The studio is located in my home, so I respond to each such thought with immediate action. I create a design, choose colors and try to look at the whole thing from different perspectives. The most difficult part is the technique itself, as creating with the minankari (cloisonne) method is a process of trial and error, and the outcome of my actions doesn’t always harmonize with the intended design. This process can take a whole day,
and sometimes even several days, which can be discouraging at first, but when you see the effects of your work after some time, you gain a lot of satisfaction and motivation for further creations.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
AB – The biggest challenge in creating jewelry is the practical side. I use a traditional technique that requires a lot of experience and knowledge. I use high-temperature enamel, such as has been used for centuries, which makes the firing process a complex interplay of time, temperature and, above all, intuition. This means that sometimes a project doesn’t turn out as planned, and sometimes I have to start the whole process over again, but it keeps me constantly learning and growing.
LC – Are your artworks focused on a specific theme?
AB – When creating my works I try to be inspired by many areas of life, culture, nature, and I do not want to close myself in one thematic area. At first, I was mainly inspired by ethnic motifs and folklore patterns, I also created their minimalistic interpretations. Today, I don’t limit myself only to folklore, but I try to combine various genres, themes, and materials, which resulted in combining watchmaking art with enamel. I started collaborating with one of the best watchmakers in Poland, Mr. Paweł Chołda from P.H Watches workshop, and together we are creating a collection of artistic watches, which are a fusion of art and craftsmanship of the highest level.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
AB – My style is constantly changing, just like the world is changing. Sometimes these changes are subtle, and sometimes they are extremely contrasting. I express them through a variety of patterns, and colors, I make changes in the technique of creation. I am constantly learning and observing the material I work with, which also influences the direction of my work. I try to combine different elements and observe how they interact with each other.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
AB – ITSLIQUID Platform is a very interesting initiative that allows you to share art from around the world with a wider audience, so you can get other people interested in your work, exchange experiences.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
AB – ITSLIQUID GROUP is a great opportunity to expand contacts in the art world. It also allows you to expand your audience; the artists can exchange insights with each other, and thus grow and stay open to dialogue.