Caroline Kernick talks about her phenomenally intricate hand-painted collection.
“I am a fine art admirer and perfectionist. I moved to Cambridgeshire from the Champagne region of France at the age of 10 where I went on to follow a British education.
The constant activity and instruction to ‘never be bored’ were the starting blocks to my childhood. By following and learning alongside family members in their disciplines of landscape watercolor painting, woodworking, bookbinding and cross stitching, I learnt observation, scrupulous attention to detail, patience and gained an inexhaustible enthusiasm and willingness to create.
Strings of internships in London, Spain and India during school holidays led me to question my direction. This ultimately culminated in the discovery of the world of collectable fine jewellery and its many different facets. In conjunction with research of the jewellery field, I eagerly sketched in London museums and art galleries to later realise that constant awareness and curiosity creates links in thinking to build ideas.
Drawing from life is the basis of my work, as I truly believe that knowing the dimensions and details of objects and space are the key to later constructing them from the imagination.
My diverse research stimuli includes the finesse and complexity of Aubrey Beardsley’s monochrome narratives, Charles Avery’s hyper-real ‘The Islanders’ project and the ambience of photographic artists from Daido Moriyama to Francesca Woodman and Deborah Turbeville.”
How did you hear about CSM?
I heard about the BA Jewellery course when I was about 15 and went on to send emails to all of the alumni - whose details I found in the exhibition catalogues - with a list of questions about their experiences and advice In my final year of school, I built a portfolio with life drawing, colour and variety, and applied for the Central Saint Martins Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, already with a clear idea that I wanted to do Jewellery. That year confirmed my decision and the foundation course helped to direct my portfolio for my chosen BA degree.
How would you describe your course?
Independent, explorative in terms of ideas and materials, unconventional in terms of jewellery design - anything goes as long as you can justify it well. High percentage of girls!
Why did you choose this particular course?
The detail and timelessness of jewellery and wanting to be in the industry. I chose CSM because of its international recognition and reputation in the design industry, a need to be in London, independent and out of the traditional ‘Uni’ scene. The course seemed more open minded than other ‘Silversmithing’ directed, more technical courses.
Increasingly I was designing and drawing by homing in on details and intricacies. Additionally, I have a thorough respect and admiration for the longevity of the objects, sculptures produced at the height of the industry. I like to think that a piece of fine jewellery is similar in ambition to the biggest architectural and technical projects challenging human craftsmanship.
What sort of person do you think you need to be to do well on your course?
Curious, patient, explorative and controlled with your hands.
What have your highlights been?
Highlights have definitely all been in the final year where you have an idea, go with it, do your best and on top of it all, get recognition for it! Other highlights have been having the freedom to explore and play around with materials, unlimited by time.
Did you get any experience of working with industry?
It’s vital to see what’s needed in the ‘outside world’ – so that you’re employable when you graduate. Internships during your course help to apply your knowledge professionally outside of college. I was selling jewellery every weekend and working in design studios during holidays so that I had a parallel education of professional expectations on the side of the very creative course.
What is a typical day like?
This would depend on the year. For example in the first year there is a tight timetable where students are expected to attend workshops, projects briefs and inductions into techniques, even technical exercises and presentations. There will be very clear lists of expectations for hand-ins and a lot of deadlines to be met. However in the 3rd year we are seldom expected in college – maybe once a week (more when something is being organised as a group) and we are mainly divided into smaller groups for tutorials. We are seldom all-together working in the workshop in this last year. Each student organises their time and priorities at this point.
What do you love about CSM?
In the new building, it’s the mix of people you meet walking around - everyone is mixed up and involved with one another day-to-day. I also love the extensive library, the open spaces and the great canteen! The London location and general independent daily routine all suited me very well.
How have you found the support at CSM?
Tutors are there if you seek their help - they will not come and visit you in bed and motivate you! You need to be present to be helped. This applies to technicians too, who are slightly oversubscribed; that is to say that the early bird catches the worm. You need to be organised and keen to set time with technicians. There are not many to help with all of our needs.
How did you find supporting yourself in London?
I worked once a week and at weekends, never shopped in Marks and Spencer and lived centrally so that I could walk everywhere - this saved me at least £60 a month!
How does the reality of studying here compare to your expectations?
It was brilliant, I could not have studied on a traditional campus. In London, it’s more like having a job than being on campus and bumping into everyone you know all the time. In London you can easily go out and get lost in a museum or gallery, big amongst tourists or tiny, all alone! I also loved being able to go out running by the River Thames, past all of London’s attractions.
What are you doing now?
I am currently working in the design studio of a fine jewellery studio in Paris. Of course we would all like to have our own brand and sell our work under our own name but the reality is that I still feel I need to learn under professionals, to discover the realities of the industry.
What advice would you give others?
Always do your best, and a little bit more.