For her diploma show titled … I was here, Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova darkened a small room, which you entered though a black curtain. The only sources of light in the room were a black light hanging in the middle of the room and a strip of a LED light attached under her pieces, which were hung on one wall. On the opposite wall, there were illuminating handwritten letters, which said “I was here”. When I came into the room, my eyes needed a bit of time to adjust to the darkness before I could start to explore Flora´s work. Parts of her jewellery works, which were all made of transparent glass, slowly emerged like ghost-like appearances on a foggy field. The longer I stayed in the room, the more details were relinquished, but still the upper parts of the pieces stayed hidden, merging into the wall. The text, which Flora had written about the installation of her diploma show, read:
“This is an intimate installation which I intended as a reaction to the moment of leaving. Somewhere inside me is stored all that I have lived, everything that has happened. I can’t touch this but it’s there. The more I try to define it, the more I lose it. These are the ephemeral moments, imprinted into the fragility of this point in life full of doubts and uncertainty.
With this installation, I want to take you on a walk, when in one moment you are losing the past, losing sureness and at this same moment, the present appears. It is not possible to catch that moment between, but we experience it all the time if we become aware of it.
What fascinates me about the actual act of writing on the wall ‘I was here’ is its connection to the past which it refers to while the act of writing is happening now and creating a bridge with the future hope. It is this moment of honesty with oneself, when I want to reflect, when I want to acknowledge, when I want to connect with the person who ‘was here’.”
Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova (born in 1976 in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia) obtained an Advanced Diploma in Art and Craft at the Hungry Creek Art & Craft School in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2010. In 2011, she gathered a year of work experience with artist Warwick Freeman, also in Auckland, New Zealand. Flora then enrolled in the Munich jewellery class in 2012 and studied there under Professor Otto Künzli and Professor Karen Pontoppidan.
I recorded our conversation when Flora was explaining to me about her jewellery pieces:
Carina: How do you make these pieces? I know a bit about glassworks because I learned glass bead making during my apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Neugablonz, but I don’t know how to make these bigger and free shapes?
Flora: I am using quite thick glass rods, either solid or hollow, for this series. These are heated in the fire and then stretched into a thin line, which then can be shaped.
Carina: Which kind of torch are you using for this? One with many tips? This was what we used for the glass beads.
Flora: Yes, the one I use has several tips too. I cannot make the beads though, that’s too difficult with this particular glass as it needs a much higher temperature to melt.
Carina: I always felt like the freer the shape, the more difficult it gets to control the glass.
Flora: Yes, you have to train a lot, but I have been working with glass now for around three years, so I have some experience with it. It also depends on which kind of glass you use. I learned to work with this particular glass, but if I used another kind of glass, it would be only slightly different and I would need some time to get a feeling for it.
Carina: I realized that even with different colours of glass, some colours were easy to work with and others were really hard. But you are only using the transparent glass, right? For me, your pieces look as if they were made of ice, also the sound when the glass chain you’re wearing now is moving is very icy.
Flora: Yes, they have an icy look. I like the totally transparent colourless glass, everything else would be too confusing, I feel.
Carina: What fascinates you about working with glass?
Flora: For me, it is like having a dance. My hands have to make the right movements in the right time, otherwise it doesn’t work at all. Of course, some days are better than others.
When I finished working with my previous project, for which I used newspapers, I was looking for something totally new. By chance, I visited a glass workshop and was fascinated by the process. I like this aspect of glass, that you can only shape it when it changes its state of aggregation from solid to honey like. And I also like that in order to work with glass, you need a lot of patience and focus. You cannot rush it. For me, this series is really about the material, to investigate what its possibilities are. I am also really fascinated with old traditional techniques and for working with the glass, I had to learn a lot about the craftsmanship of traditional glass working.
Carina: Probably a question you hear all the time: Are your glass jewellery pieces very fragile? You are now wearing a very fine necklace. Do you have to be very careful when you wear it?
Flora: It really depends on the shape of the necklace, on how big the parts are and how three- dimensional the whole form is. Naturally the thicker the glass, the more stable it becomes, but then e.g. this thin necklace with the small links I am wearing now is adapting to the shape of the body and moves with it, which makes it easy to wear and less prone to break. So, if somebody would hug me strongly now, nothing would happen to the necklace, but if I dropped it on the floor, it would most likely break.
Carina: That’s interesting, because my experience with bead making was that the bigger I made the glass beads, the easier they broke when they were cooling down or when I took them from the iron bar.
Flora: Bead making is a bit of different story. In general, if you temper the glass, you can release the inner tension in the thicker glass shapes and avoid the spontaneous cracking.
Carina: Does “tempering” mean that you put the glass in an oven to let them cool down slowly?
Flora: Exactly, if you don’t do this, the pieces would be super fragile. For me, the glass even feels different in my hands when I temper it. You have to temper the big pieces for sure, but I even feel a difference with the fine pieces. I put all pieces in an oven at a certain temperature for several hours and then let them cool down over night.
Carina: What are your plans now after the diploma?
Flora: My plans are to relax for now, but only until the Munich Jewellery Week. I will then have a show titled BIKKURIBAKO in the Kunstarkaden with four other students from the Munich jewellery class, Takayoshi Terajima, Asako Takahashi, Seung Hey Ryu and Nelly Stein. But I will also have some of my glass works in the Schmuck exhibition on the fair this year for the first time!
Carina: Congratulations, that’s so great!
Flora: Yes, this was perfect timing I believe!
Carina: Definitely. So, good luck with your projects and hopefully some well-deserved relaxation time too.
1 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Invitation card for diploma show …I was here, Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
2/3 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
4 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
5 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Go and f… yourself you dirty bastard; Necklace, 2015; Glass, steel wire; 96 cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
6 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Hara What?; Necklace, 2016; Glass; 17 cm x12 cm x7 cm (pendant part), 109cm long; Photo:Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
7 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Rain; Necklace, 2014; Glass; 130cm long; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova
8 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show So What!, Munich, 2017; Photo: Carina Shoshtary
9 Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova: Diploma show …I was here, Munich, 2017; Photo: Kvetoslava Flora Sekanova