Nazanean Shirani
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Conceptual artist Chino Ridge speaks about creating sculptural pieces using a variety of materials

Chino Ridge has over ten years of experience working as a Senior Costume Jewellery Designer at Erickson Beamon and Vicki Sarge. Having collaborated with major brands, her pieces have been worn by celebrities at red carpet events as well as royal weddings. Graduating with degrees in Silversmithing and Metalwork and Enamelling, Chino is a conceptual artists who works with brass, crystals and various other materials in order to achieved the desired concepts. She is fascinated by cultural pluralism and her work has evolved a conceptual element resulting in decorative sculptural pieces.

Great to have you here Chino. With an extensive career in jewellery design, today you practice as a conceptual artist. Tell us a little about yourself, including your creative journey so far.

I started my creative journey by studying applied arts in my teens. I wanted to know everything about making. I discovered enamelling during my first undergraduate degree in Japan, where I saw the potential of the material itself such as the variety of colours as if I was painting. I was also struck by the approach of enamellers back in Japan, where the traditional approach didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to create something that I loved and in turn I started to work in an unconventional way. I decided that I wanted to learn more about European enamelling and so I travelled to Limoges in France as it is the most famous European centre for enamel production. After my creative adventure in Europe, I went back to Japan where I started my career in costume jewellery which allowed me to think about my artworks in a slightly different way and has enabled me to become the artist I am today.

What or who initially drew you to the world of precious metals, and how has your practice changed over time?

I come from a creative family. My grandad was a Japanese style painter and my mother was a clay artist so I grew up observing them make beautiful pieces. I was so fascinated and was inspired to work in clay myself. I started working with metal in my teens where I did a lot of two dimensional work such as chasing. I wanted to challenge myself and was inspired to continue to work in metal as the material is difficult to manipulate, but I decided to learn more about three dimensional works, which is what excited me. I then went on to apply the colour element on to my three dimensional pieces which again was very challenging.

Where do you find inspiration for your unique pieces?

I find inspiration from everyday occurrences and especially whilst I observe daily life. I am also inspired by culture, history but also human psychology and I would say that my work is an amalgamation of all of these things. I try to digest all the information and extract elements that I am most attracted to.

What is your creative process?

I draw and write in my sketchbook, which is full of ideas, but also a lot of the time I get a creative instinct in my gut and I imagine the concept I want to make. I always question myself when executing a piece and this technique allows me to create a more refined final work.

Which two artists do you most admire and why?

I do love works by Caravaggio because of the dramatic contrast between dark and light. Caravaggio was very innovative for his time and that is also very inspiring. I take inspiration from any artist that conveys a power which moves my heart or spirit.

You’ve been honing your business skills this year with us on the Setting Out programme. How has the course helped you to kickstart your business?

The course has given me the support to discover more about the silversmithing aspect of my work. We have visiting silversmiths who we learn from in a technical way, and this has allowed me to bridge the gap between being a designer to becoming more of a silversmith. I have more clarity in the sense of living as an artist, and although it has been a challenge in some aspects, because the course is more related to jewellery business, it has enabled me to think about my career in a slightly different way.

Do you have a most treasured item in your personal jewellery or art collection?

I have a silver jar that was given to me by David Clark who is a contemporary silversmith. He is a friend of mine and so this was a wedding gift. Another wedding gift that I treasure is a diamond necklace which was given to me by my former boss who is now a very good friend.

Where would you most like to see your work exhibited one today?

I would be thrilled to see my work in an art museum.

What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of applying for Setting Out?

For this particular programme I would recommend that applicants have a clear idea of what their creative direction is and how they want to develop as a designer. The course will support you greatly to build upon your creative foundation and kick start your business. In my own experience, perfecting the various crafts such as enamelling and smilversmithing, as well as my experience of working as a designer have helped me to develop my creative style which I believe is important to have before starting Setting Out.

Click here for more information on the Setting Out programme.