ARTIST INTERVIEW: Kate Jones of Ursa Major
One can’t speak about jeweler Kate Jones and not mention the sea; it is the quiet undercurrent of everything she stands for. Most of her childhood was spent on her parent’s sailboat; her email address starts with ‘saltyjones’; and her wedding ring has ‘The Sea’ engraved into it. So it’s no surprise that her work feels as though it’s distilled the essence of a shoreline, and sculpted it into objects removed of novelty and brimming with a modernist feel. They are pieces made to be lived in: streamlined, substantial, and yet precious.
How is your work inspired by or influenced by nature and your surroundings?
I grew up with an extremely close relationship to the water, living on a sailboat. There’s a real purity to that kind of life. Anyone who’s ever had a boat knows that a life with it is no simple task, but there is a beautiful simplicity to the feeling of it all. You hop on a boat, head off on the water, and everything is better, and clearer, and feels just a little bit more like “hey, it’s not all so complicated after all”. I still live on the water, in a small town….and everything just feels a little bit clearer than after years of living in the city. I’ve always tried to translate that sort of purity and clarity into my work.
Do you think community is important to creativity? If so, how?
100%. It’s so important to have each other to bounce stuff off of. Talk-shop-therapy-sessions. I’d have to say the community feels more important to me in a business sense. But in my mind, the business fuels the creative- so the two intrinsically go hand in hand. Make the business work and you buy yourself the ability to be creative on a regular basis. When you’ve got a tricky account, or a horrible production deadline, it’s such a relief to have someone who gets it. Within my market, most of my community is women. And women can be tough! But I love nothing more than being surrounded by a strong, determined, smart group of women. When you surround yourselves with the right ones, there is so much unconditional support, so little competition, and so much talent, and I believe, no better compliment. For those moments when I can’t move past the self doubt, I turn to my peers, that golden group I’ve found along the way who believe the same, truly make it worthwhile, have a drink, and together we persevere through the bs.
What are your most important artistic tools?
My most important tools are the things that currently help to keep me balanced:
Sleep (easily 9 hours a night), the garden (soon to be put to sleep…sadly), and cooking- it’s one of the few things that really quiets my brain, my nightly decompression, and gives me another outlet for creating (the garden does that too) when I have no time within my work to create new things. The monotony of production (especially with only a three person team) can be so draining, but I need to feel like I’m still creating and being productive, even in my down time. Busy hands, busy mind…..and I’m sure by now you can guess the one other non-negotiable…the only other thing to quiet me, the sea.
Do you have a daily working routine? Can you describe it?
Most days feel like a total marathon- get up, have coffee, straight to studio, get as much done as absolutely possible, race to the post office by 4 (small town hours). Return to studio, get a head start on the next day, spend a couple hours answering emails, placing orders, plan for the next day. Eat dinner, watch a show, sleep, repeat. Not very romantic. But let’s be real!
Do you have any objects you like to keep around you as inspiration? What are they?
I was with old friends, in France recently, and I found this miniature portrait of the most peaceful looking man, painted on vellum….it’s got this brilliant blue background that was absolutely glowing in the sun, this tiny thing on a back table at a flea market…I went straight to it like a magnet. Later that night we studied it and concluded it might have been the “big find’ and actually from the late 1700’s. To me, holding something from so long ago, that has passed through who knows how many hands and homes, and to imagine someone sitting in front of this man in the portrait, taking such great care to get the expression on his face right, the detailed ruffle of his collar, the pink in his cheeks, the hint of a ribbon around his neck, it’s magical. I love the sense of holding such history in the palm of your hand.
Photos by Greta van de Star
Intro by Yasmine Ganley