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Benchworks is back!

By Karen Diepeveen on October 21, 2014

What happens when a few local artists are asked to step outside of their comfort zone? Benchworks happens, that’s what. Coordinated by Magpie Jewellery, Benchworks features five local artists who have left their typical medium behind, instead creating an inspiring new piece of jewellery.

This year, Magpie approached Erin Robertson, Remi Theriault, Marc Adornato, Amy Thompson, and Guillermo Trejo, and asked them to develop a unique piece, carving their idea into a wax mold. Magpie took these carvings and cast them into jewellery  – the final reveal for all of the pieces will happen Wednesday night down at Magpie’s Westboro location.

We sent over a few questions to Amy Thompson, whose collages and mixed media pieces are familiar to many Ottawans, to find out about her experience making jewellery, translating her work into a new form, and the potential she sees in this city.

Apartment613: Tell us what creative things you do in this city!

Amy Thompson: I’ve been working as a mixed media artist and designer in Ottawa since moving here in 2000. I’ve run the gamut creating works of art for exhibitions, illustration, graphic design, window displays, you name it. Recently I’ve been working on public art, both in Vancouver for Telus’ new downtown head office as well as one of the Light Rail stations here. I am interested in working on creating  permanent pieces that will be seen by people who might never walk into a gallery. Public art pushes me to use new materials and techniques, creating collages that are made from wood, metal and glass. I find public art brings the design and fine art sides of my work together in a way I’ve never had a chance to work before.

What Support Local project are you involved with – and why did you decide to get involved?

For this year’s Support Local I was asked to be involved with Magpie’s Benchworks project. Its an amazing collaboration with Magpie jewellery that started last year. They invite local artists, photographers, designers, musicians and architects to make a piece of jewellery. You meet with them to discuss your idea(s), go over sketches and talk about what the process consists of and what the possibilities are. I was excited to have been selected this year, I had seen the results from last year and thought pieces that came out of the event were all fantastic.

Tell us about what was it like to develop a piece of jewellery, rather than your usual art form. 

I enjoy learning new skills and ways of expressing my artistic vision. Working with the wax (for the lost wax casting process) was a good challenge. The wax carving is slow going but enjoyable once you get the hang of it. I find when you lose track of time doing something this is when you’re really focused and I found this with the wax. Translating my art into a piece of jewellery was fun, as an artist who works primarily two dimensionally I kept the pieces somewhat flat but wanted to add a tactile, more sculptural feel as opposed to a “cut out piece of paper look” to emulate my collage work. With all my work I respond to the materials I work with and the wax was no different. I would definitely like to make more pieces in the future.

This year’s Support Local theme is “We build this city”, capturing the collective, collaborative sentiment that is part of so much of what happens in Ottawa. What inspiring or exciting things do you see happening that are building this city?

I think the art scene in Ottawa is really fantastic right now, there are a great group of people working really hard to see their vision improve not only the galleries and institutions of Ottawa but its Cafes, restaurants and public spaces. Ottawa is changing quite quickly right now and there is a lot of potential for great things.

Benchworks happens Wednesday, October 22, from 6-9pm at Magpie Jewellery, 430 Richmond Road. 


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