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Fur is Alive

At the Gerrit Rietveld Graduation show we came across the work of graduate Cecilia Valentine who would see us wearing our living pets as accessories instead of as fur coats. 

By Cassandra Pizzey /asdf 01-08-2013

A number of projects by Cecilia Valentine were on show during the Rietveld graduation show. At a glance they seem like fun wearables but a closer look reveals the maker’s underlying message to society. 

Fur is Alive shows us a series of three accessories (a headband, a bracelet and a necklace) in which the wearer can insert a small pet or plant thus creating a bond with nature. 


One of your projects is called Fur is Alive, what is it about?


“The idea for this work came from the controversy around using fur in design, predominantly fashion. I wanted to explore a compromise whereby the material can still be used whilst doing no harm to the animal. In that way you capture the true beauty of the animal.”


What process did you go through before you came to the final project? 


“I began by researching living materials and how to work with them, investigating how to use animals and humans as materials. I came up with many different applications, one of which was the hamster necklace. 

I ended up throwing away the main idea and focused on what this necklace or cage brought up (the discussion of animal cruelty/fur consumption). It became interesting and so further explored that idea.” 


What was the initial reaction of your tutors?


“My mentor was the only one that knew about the idea, but I kept the project entirely to myself. No one had seen it until my exam. I think it was good for me because this became my very personal project which was done for myself.” 


What materials is the jewellery made from and how did you create the shapes?


“Everything was designed and drawn using Rhino, a 3-D modeling program. I then had them 3-D printed out of bronze on a Concept Laser Mlab. These metal printers work via a process of laser melting.”


What message would you like your work to convey? 


“Fur is meant to be alive, and murdering an animal for its fur is not beautiful. Like eating meat, people tend to disassociate themselves from the fact that fur was once a living thing. This project really exposes that and makes the connection unavoidable.” 


What did you enjoy most about attending the Rietveld academy? 


“Personally I really enjoyed the mentality of the school. It took some getting used to and to be honest it was hard for me initially to adapt but now I am happy I can have a different perspective on things” 


What are your hopes and plans for the future? 


“It is hard to say what will happen but best case scenario I will have the pleasure to keep working on my own ideas and hopefully make a living out of it.”

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