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I Can't Seem to Get Rid of the Horses

Recent Royal College of Art London (RCA) graduate Birgit Marie Schmidt combines playful notions of youth with intricate goldsmithing in her latest jewellery collection that bears a rather unusual name.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 08-07-2011 spoke to the designer and asked her what is the idea behind I Can't Seem to Get Rid of the Horses?

"I combined a rather playful, or even naive, infantile obsession and imagination with the intricacy of goldsmithing to create well made, wearable pieces of  jewellery that will last a lifetime and longer. The pieces are physical manifestations of surreal equestrian creatures."

"Repetition and form manipulation were used as a tool to communicate the constant reoccurrence of my own infantile world of make-believe."

Where does your obsession with horses come from?

"When I was young I was fascinated by horses, I have early childhood memories of sitting under my grandmother's kitchen table where I would imagine adventures and draw pictures on the underside of the table. I had completely forgotten about this, but when I rediscovered these marks of my childhood imagination, it formed the starting point of my final collection."

Tell us about the rather extraordinary name for your collection.

"At the beginning of this project I had no intention of using animal symbols or shapes, actually I rather disliked the idea. But the horses kept coming back, hence the name. The manifestation of the horses could be a result of urban withdrawal from nature, as well as the comforting aspects of a childhood memory."

With many fine institutions in the Netherlands, why choose to study at the RCA?

"It was important for me to be exposed to people that have already gone through BA or similar kind of education, and the RCA  is wholly postgraduate. Although I applied for the Design Academy Eindhoven, the RCA offers a unique course that focuses specifically on jewelry and applied art."

"All final projects in our department are personal projects in which students are encouraged to test various disciplines such as sculpture, installations or material investigations."
The result of which is apparent in Schmidt's collection which comprises a necklace, rings and earrings, all with a very sculptural look and feel.

What message would you like to convey with your work?

"That imagination and storytelling are a valuable part of humanity. I think different people will feel different things when seeing my work, depending on what they have experienced in their lives."

The pieces are like tiny sculptures made of gold, did you experience any challenges during the design process?

"The development of the metalworking was a challenge due to the intricacy of the pieces, but I learned a lot from that."

"I carved and combines wax figures to later cast them in brass and silver, the shaping and carving took quite some time, as did the cleaning. After polishing the pieces were gold plated. Handmade jewellery involves a lot of steps, something the general public may not realize when they look at the finished product."

Click on the images to enlarge

Photography: Nick Clements

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