Nathalie Scherrer’s jewelry is signed with a stylized butterfly as her symbol of artistic creativity: always looking for new challenges and different dimensions of experience. And the photographer Roland Sigwart has revealed surprising and beguiling details of her work with his macroimages.
The artist Nathalie Scherrer was born in Basel, Switzerland in 1969 and got her silversmith training after learning how to be a goldsmith with Sigurd Persson and Wolfgang Gessl in Stockholm. Then she traveled to various countries such as South Africa, Canada, the United States, Yemen and Indonesia and since 1993 Nathalie Scherrer has been working in her own studios in Basel and Porrentruy.
As a counterpoint to her jewelry work, she is often excited by the idea of expressing herself in other dimensions and proportions as a sculptor. She works in painstaking detail with the photographer Roland Sigwart from Hüfingen near Donaueschingen, Germany (also 1969) to discover that depending upon the angle observed from her unique pieces of jewelry they emanate their own fascination. Photographed as oversized images, these pieces transform themselves into microlandscapes for the beholder. Tiny gold spheres sparkle like colossal monuments in counterlight and the beautifully crafted jewelry surfaces look like satellite pictures of a moon landscape littered with craters. Sigwart has been a professional photographer for advertising and industry including his photojournalism work since 1998 on a free-lance basis and this free-lance artistic photography is a counterpoint to his professional work. At an exhibition in Fondation Anne & Robert Bloch in Delemont, these two artists showed new pieces of jewelry created by her including his macrophotographs. Art + Design talked with both of them in this project that struck an extraordinarily positive chord.
Art + Design: Ms. Scherrer, how did you get the idea not only to document the jewelry you made in photographs, but also to tap a new dimension with macrophotography?
R. Scherrer: It just happened by accident. When image processing the pictures of the jewelry on the computer, we discovered what interesting perspectives we could find.
Art + Design: Mr. Sigwart, what did you find so fascinating about making macros of Scherrer’s jewelry?
R. Sigwart: I noticed the surfaces of jewelry specially processed for visual aspects even while we were making normal photographs. If you take a close enough look with the naked eye through a magnifying glass or a camera lens, you can wander or even fly over the processed surface and the photographs made with this technique look like satellite pictures of the earth.
Art + Design: Ms. Scherrer, with the naked eye you can hardly perceive these details. Has reproducing them in this fashion changed your attitude to your own jewelry? Have you discovered new worlds and, if so, will this have any impact on how you want to apply and craft your materials in future?
R. Scherrer: No, because I can already make out the minutest details when I craft my jewelry. But, this opens up entirely new ways for potential customers to view the jewelry.
Art + Design: Mr. Sigwart, has photographing allowed you to discover things that add a new attraction and an interesting statement for you?
R. Sigwart: When I zoom onto the surface of the jewelry, the jewelry develops a new and fascinating appeal that the normal beholder never notices. A heated surface with solidified air bubbles is transformed into a bizarre mountain landscape while minute solid gold and silver balls made by hand metamorphose into vast monuments that sparkle in glittering counterlight if properly illuminated. When these picture elements are highlighted. Beholders often see new and different kinds of forms and figures that spark their imagination.
Art + Design: Ms. Scherrer, what experience have you had with your joint exhibition? How did the persons visiting the gallery enjoy the project and what reactions did it trigger?
R. Scherrer: The combination of jewelry and photography elicited a sense of excitement from people at the gallery and a lot of them tried to figure out what picture came from what piece of jewelry.
Art + Design: Mr. Sigwart, what do you think? Are these photographs new works of art on their own? Or are they an unusual interpretation for decoding the artist’s signature, bringing home the material’s reaction to the craftsmanship and triggering associations in the beholders?
R. Sigwart: I would definitely say that these photographs are new works of art on their own, the likes of which nobody has ever seen before to my knowledge. I applied photographic means (i.e., selective focusing) to highlight or cause certain areas to emerge or to make other disappear. That created totally new views that the human eye has never before been able to perceive.
Art + Design: Ms. Scherrer, does this detail view underscore your original intention when you designed these pieces, or did they produce totally new views?
R. Scherrer: That’s exactly right. The possibilities are colossal! It’s obvious that there are always new ways of looking at things. After all, that’s my intention.
Art + Design: You’re a sculptress. Do you also see a fascinating way of using photography to exploit the full potential of new dimensions? For example, could little messages be integrated in the sculptures that you would only be able to see when the details are magnified? Something like an inclusion in a precious stone that would give each and every piece of jewelry its own personal signature that could only be discovered under the microscope?
R. Scherrer: You can also use photography to tap into new dimensions of sculpture, even if it’s a much bigger form of art in contrast to the fine art of goldsmithing. You can always imagine new perspectives with the crafted surface of the stone and the forms and inclusions. I toyed with some of these ideas and drawings earlier and even developed them to fruition.
Art + Design: Does this give the owner of a work of art an additional benefit? After all, the owner recognizes something right away that nobody else sees – it’s the owners secret.
R. Scherrer: Yes, I think so – I’ve worked with concealed or encoded symbols before. To date, it’s only been for my best friends or myself. That’s always an exciting experiment.
Art + Design: Ms. Scherrer, Mr. Sigwart, are you planning to do other joint projects?
R. Sigwart: We’re planning joint projects. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time or leisure at the moment to put more effort into working on them and expand our new way of looking at things to other objects. In any event, both of us wanted to discover what’s feasible in the combination of jewelry and photography – and what’s fun.