Friday, 11 September 2009

Introducing... Pip Keane

This week meet one of COUNTER's most prolific jewellers, Pip Keane. After completing her Visual Arts degree at the Canberra School of Art, where she majored in Silversmithing, Pip moved around Australia before finally settling in Melbourne where she has been based for the past few years.

In between balancing her artistic practice between commercial and exhibition pursuits and managing her eponymous shop in Prahran, Pip is also a mother! Amazing! And doing all of this is clearly makes for many a busy day as you will read below...

Pip's signature touch for her jewellery line is a deceivingly simple design detail - for example a toggle that adjusts the length of necklaces to suit your mood, to a lariat construction that has confuzzled certain staff members with its interlocking design (once it was figured out how to wear the necklace there was much slapping of the forehead and mutterings of "...but of course!")

Without further ado, happy reading and happy Friday everyone!

Tell us a bit about how your interest and jewellery was fostered… Was it something that caught your imagination when you were young, or is something that you fell into serendipitously?
I was lucky enough that the school that I went to had after school jewellery classes. I really enjoyed making jewellery and I did a major work that counted towards my HSC. From there, I studied visual arts, majoring in Silversmithing, at the Australian National University's art school. The course was very practical and I learned Silversmithing techniques that I still apply today to making jewellery.

Looking at your artist profile, you’ve moved around Australia quite a bit! What prompted the move from Canberra to Sydney, and subsequently from Sydney to Melbourne?
I was originally from Sydney, went to the Art School in Canberra then returned to Sydney where my family live. In Sydney, I set up a shared workshop, where I worked for ten years. Three years ago, I moved here to Melbourne when my husband got a job here.

To date, you’ve been commissioned to make some absolutely stunning jewellery. What has been the most exciting commission to work on?
I have recently made a couple of engagement rings where I have been given free reign to create something a bit different. Turning a design in my head into a finished piece is very rewarding and I feel honoured making a piece that will represent such a special occasion for the client.

Tea strainer

Apart from jewellery you also make hollowware specifically for exhibitions or commissions, would you ever plan on creating these works on a production level?
I did a Silversmithing degree at Canberra and really love designing and making hollowware, however each piece does take a considerable time to make and design, which makes them quite expensive, and difficult to justify from a business perspective. I still make these pieces but mainly for exhibitions.

About my shop on Izett Street in Prahran (pictured above)…
I opened the shop in Prahran after moving from Sydney to Melbourne. I felt that it was a logical step after working in a shared studio for ten years and was a good opportunity as I needed to re-establish myself in Melbourne. The move to Melbourne was a challenge, looking for a new home in a new city, trying to find new suppliers, customers, and opening a shop. Learning to delegate and share the workload in the shop after working alone was a big challenge for me. Meeting more customers face to face in the shop has been the biggest breakthrough, I love the instant feedback and I get to make more one-off special pieces. The biggest challenge has been the past year as I have had a baby and it hard juggling work and baby.

A day in the life of Pip Keane…
5am Wake up to feed Elise (our 14 month old baby) then back to sleep until 6am (sometimes, if I’m lucky) 6am Organise Elise and get ready for work. 9.30am Drop Elise off at day care. 9.45am Get to work, work like crazy returning calls, meeting clients, making jewellery until 3pm. (I even have cups of tea at the bench) 3pm Pick up Elise and spend some time with her before her bedtime at 6.30pm. Evening I do emails and paper work and designing then fall into bed by 9pm ready to do it all again the next day.

This sounds very busy, but I like being busy.

On the weekends, Monday and Friday I spend as much time with Elise and my husband as I can. I would kill for an occasional sleep-in! Although I'm only in the shop Tuesday to Thursday, the shop is open from Tuesday to Saturday.

Pip's new range - earrings

When I was younger, when I grew up I wanted to be…
A chef or a flight attendant, I thought travelling the world with my job would be fun.

My dream collaboration would involve…
I would love to do a series of hollowware and jewellery with a friend of mine that I did work experience with before I went to university. He inspired me and every time I see him and his work, he makes me glad that I became a jeweller and followed my dreams.

More from Pip's new range - necklace and bangle (pictured below)

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