The Royal Jewellers S01 ep6 : Rob Lee Morris Jewellery [New York]
Interview with Rob Lee Morris
When Warhol was painting,Lee Morris was sculpting. Creator ofthe concept of"Art Jewellery" ,he also creates for Donna Karan. I had been discovered at a craft fair by a very prominent gallery owner - Mrs. Joan Sonovan And 'Sculpture to Wear' was really the thing that turned it all on for me. It was jewellery by very famous artists, that most people don't even know about - Picasso, Man Ray, Arp, Max Ernst, all the great ones, Brach, Miro they all did some kind of jewellery, and in that jewellery everything about that artist came forward. So I said to myself 'Oh my God this who I am, this is what I want to do and I am not famous for anything else yet, but I want to use jewellery as my primary medium of art'.
Robert Lee Morris
KM: What is Robert Lee Morris?
It is basically a reflection of me and that is to be what qualifies as bona fide
design, bona fide art.
I was very torn between anthropology major and an artist. What archaeologists
do is they study the things that are left behind by previous cultures. And it is
through the study of artefacts, the things that are left behind by the craftsmen
in most cases that they are able to put together the pieces of the puzzle of
what the culture was about, so I suddenly saw myself being an artefact maker.
So if I am making a necklace, a gold necklace in the back of my mind I am
saying o.k. This gold necklace is probably going to end up in somebody's tomb
or who knows where. And 100 years from now they are going to dig it up and
they are going to examine and they are going to be able to tell something
about the times that we lived in.
I hadn’t really made up my mind to be a Jewellery designer. For quite a while it
was just something I was playing with, a testing. And by the time I found
myself in New York City with it, the reaction of the press, of the fashion editors
and the stylists was such an overwhelming; embracing of what I was doing that
it was a wake up call.
I had been discovered at a craft fair by a very prominent gallery owner - Mrs.
Joan Sonovan. And sculpture to wear was really the thing that turned it all on
for me. It was jewellery by very famous artists, that most people don't even
know about - Picasso, Manrey, Arp, Max Ernst, all the great ones, Brach, Miro
they all did some kind of jewellery, and in that jewellery everything about that
artist came forward. And so I said to myself, Oh my God this who I am, this is
what I want to do and I am not famous for anything else yet, but I want to use
jewellery as my primary medium of art.
When Sculpture to Wear closed I actually opened my own shop at that time, in
KM: Where here in New York?
In New York, it was called Art Wear and it lasted for nearly 20 years. If you
were to be represented in Art Wear, your jewellery had to look exactly like you.
It had to be groundbreaking. I showed my own work, but I also showed the
work of about 30 other people, internationally. And over that 20 years of Art
Wear I showed over 400 different designers.
KM: From all over the world?
From all over the world!
Most of the people I represented worked with materials that were not
considered jewellery materials, silk impregnated with silicon rubber. Painted
leather, jewellery made of plastic, jewellery made of Niobium, Titanium and
exotic materials that were coloured
Yeah, and a great deal of brass, copper, steel and oxidised materials. Green
jewellery brown jewellery..
So was it you that created all that mess that happened after that?
I maintain the belief that jewellery should empower you and connect you to a
spiritual level that is … it is there, it is always there and in some cases what it
is, it reminds you of your connection with your ancestors
The ironic thing about it is that we became very well connected with fashion
and every fashion designer around the world came through and started to
collaborate with various artists that I represented. I, being the one who
collaborated more than anyone. Jeffrey Bean was one of the first big names
He was here obviously?
… - I had won one of my first Coty Award for doing with Calvin Klein for
doing… and this jewellery that was big and bold.
One I began working with Donna Karan all hell broke loose, and I started doing
all of this very high fashion stuff for here and it was integrated into this ….we
were defining American Sports Wear and we were causing a real influence in
both the fashion market and the jewellery market.
When I have a day where I can just sit here and just make. I go into this state
of bliss and you know this flow, where hours pass by in seconds and I realise
that I am doing the one thing in the world that makes me happier than
KM: Your lost in your art.
Yes and I am just creating and the next thing I know, I have created without
even, without any effort I have created a new collection. And that’s because I
wasn't even using my brain I was using my heart and I was open to whatever
the inspiration was that came to me for that particular collection it was moving
me, it was the thing that was guiding me and that is a state of bliss. And that is
what art is to me.
When Donna and I get together it is magic, sheer magic. The chemistry
between us, everyone in the room disappears. She and I are like two little kids
playing with the greatest new toys.
The process is that I'll start with the idea that I want to make something that
looks like a zipper. So that is the one driving thought for this collection. So I
start carving wax parts, and as the parts come back to me clean and I start to
integrate them and put them together, I see where a new part can come in, or
a new shape and it just reveals itself to me, so I make new models, and new
models - next thing you know I have got a table full of all these new parts
which are like kind of all these letters in this new alphabet and what I am
crating now is a new language. And that to me is the best part of the whole
thing, because this language will speak to someone else. They can see it
without my explaining it.
KM: It is like a universal language.
Right, it is like a universal consciousness.
One of my rich customers from New Jersey came in one day with her bracelet
to have the clasp fixed because she dropped it down the toilet in the airplane
bathroom while she was wiping herself and went after it.
KM: You are kidding
That is a story you'd rather not tell.
And brought it in to me, because she said, you know what I was not going to
let this thing go.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Rob Lee Morris