08 Aug The Legacy Award and collection – Isabelle Busnel interviews Juan Riusech, founder of Alliages
“I created Alliages in 2009 with 2 main goals, promote contemporary jewelry (and its artists) and educate people to this art. To achieve this, Alliages organizes exhibitions and other events to show confirmed artists as well as new talents.”
When was Galerie Alliages created? Many people know it but for those who don’t, can you explain how you work?
I created Alliages in 2009 with 2 main goals : promote contemporary jewelry (and its artists) and educate people to this art. To achieve this, Alliages organizes exhibitions and other events to show confirmed artists as well as new talents.
Could you describe the LEGACY AWARD aims and goals?
The aims & goals of the award are the same as Alliages has in general : promote & educate. The award (and collection) is a new way to achieve these 2 goals.
How did you get the idea for this award and how long did it take to get to the current format?
It took about two years to plan the award and collection as a whole project. On the first year, the idea of one award to promote the work of contemporary jewelers was there but I didn’t want to just run a new award and especially having in mind that with just one award, the second aim of Alliages was not there : educate people to contemporary jewelry. At the same time, I started a private collection knowing that I wanted to legate this collection to a museum. The idea of mixing both projects started smoothly in the second year, I just had to imagine how to achieve it and how to compensate the artists that transmit the jewels to the collection.
Who is involved and how does the selection work?
At the end of the open call, I do a selection of works between all applications sent, and this selection is presented during Joya Barcelona fair to a jury composed of professionals from the world of jewelery, fashion or art. This jury selects the award winner for the main award, the Jury Award. During the 3 day fair, visitors vote for a jewel, giving a second prize, the Public Award, and Alliages also gives one (or several) prize(s), the “Alliages choice” award. All these awards have a different reward : money for the Jury Award, an exhibition for the Public Award, and a free spot in Alliages for the Alliages choice Award.
You are an artist jeweller yourself. Does it help you to understand what the contemporary jewellery community needs nowadays?
It helps indeed. As an artist, I have hopes and expectations, and this is useful in my way to work as a curator and gallerist, basically in the relationship with the artists.
It is a new project and an act of faith. How do you convince artists to give you some of their works for free?
That was a big surprise when almost 200 artists applied and agreed to give their work to the collection. The artists know Alliages, they know the way I work and they know my dedication to the promotion of their work and contemporary jewelry. All the conditions for the award were known since the first beginning, especially the one concerning the donation of the work for the collection. Nothing was hidden, everything was transparent, no surprises in the end. I suppose this transparency helped a lot and gave them faith in the project.
What was the general reaction to this project?
Of course, when a new project innovates, a few do not adhere, but the project was quite well accepted, the almost 200 applications prove it.
What are the benefits for an artist to apply for this award?
The works selected for the award are shown at Joya fair at Alliages stall (1st benefit), are shown and referenced in Alliages social networks and website (2nd benefit) and appear in a paper publication that will be distributed and sent to different galleries worldwide in order to promote their work (3rd benefit). During the years following the selection and before the donation to a museum, the goal is to show (a part of) the collection somewhere once a year (4th benefit).
How many applications did you receive in the first year and where are the artists from?
In 2015, 193 artists applied with no less than 303 works. It was a huge success but considering the high level of the works proposed, it was extremely difficult to decide which jewels were going to Joya fair to be presented to the Jury.
Do you know every artist personally?
I know personally some of them, some I have as Facebook contacts and I see their evolution and some I don’t know at all.
Is it the only award of its kind?
If I take the full project (award-collection-museum), I think it is the only award of this kind indeed.
Contemporary jewelery suffers from its confidentiality. How can this award contribute to educating the general public?
The final goal is the donation of the collection to a museum, and if possible, a museum not specialized in jewelry. The public visiting to this museum will have the possibility to discover a new world, the contemporary jewelery.
Have you chosen where you want to show the collection in the future yet?
I hope to show the collection (or a part of it) at least once a year somewhere, and I will decide year after year, depending on the possibilities and contacts. This year, a part of the collection has been shown at the Melting Point in Valencia, Spain.
Do you already have any contacts with Museums or is it too soon?
It is definitively too soon, unfortunately. For the moment the collection has about 60 works and it’s too small to trigger an interest from any museum. For the moment the aim is, on the one hand, to collect works, and from the other hand, to investigate what museum may possibly be interested in the collection.
How is the project funded?
Funding this project is not easy and to make it go further, funding is vital because there are a lot of expenses linked to it : monetary award, Joya stall, catalog, etc … To fund a part of the project, I ask artists to pay a very small (and almost symbolic) fee when they send the application in the open call. The rest of the project is funded with the money collected during the year doing other kinds of events.
How will you assess whether this project is successful?
When one museum is interested in having and presenting the collection.
INTERVIEW DONE IN AUGUST 2016 by Isabelle Busnel.
About the author
Isabelle Busnel | After a 15-year career in finance and banking, an urge to express herself in a different way led Isabelle to retrain academically. She obtained my HND in jewelry in 2008 and her Research MA in 2010, both from the London Metropolitan University (Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design). She is now sharing her time between creating original jewelry and writing a blog about Applied Arts and Contemporary Craft. Isabelle is member of Dialogue Collective, a group of London-based jewelers and silversmiths, as well as a member and former treasurer of the British Society of Enamelers. Also collaborates with La Garantie, a French contemporary jewelry association.
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