A golden artist, so unique and remarkable! Sara Bran seems to discover herself as one apprehends one of her finer jewels. We are immersed in sceneries of an infinite delicacy, that are made of intertwined shadows and light, voids and fullness, with a perfect rhythm that leads us to absolute delight. She is intensely human and sensitive, with a abundance of gifts that she invested in a new profession, that of “Gold Lacemaker” combining jewelery, art and design. In coming years, she intends to dedicate the excellence of her art and the recognition she has gained to the conservation of nature. She knows how to capture and to transcribe the secret and poetic melodies of the world.
The journey of her art
Sara Bran is a French artist, born in Cameroon, having lived in several African countries during her childhood. “We are impregnated by the place where we grew up! And my senses keep the memory of all the ethnic diversity, languages, smells and colors that make the richness of Africa.” Sara was the youngest daughter in a family of intellectuals, but very early, she was different from the others: a little girl with an artistic soul, a high sensitivity and an immense curiosity. She will practice drawing at School, as “it was the only creative activity available at the time” and will become a committed student in scientific studies, doing well with a lively intelligence. As an adult, she will have a great thirst for freedom and independence, feeling a real urge to work with her hands. She will embark on History of Art graduate studies and Fine Arts training, doing both of them at the same time. “My career is ultimately the combination of artistic skills with a scientific and seeking spirit.” She will begin her career with painting, drawing, modeling, and photography, and then perfect herself in stone carving in 1989 when meeting the British sculptor Nick Rawson. One day, a small piece of sculpture will come off and she will make a pendant. Then there will be another piece of jewel, then a third one to an entire collection, several made with natural materials, precious woods and semi-precious stones. “I have always been attracted by the decorative object and in particular the ornament of the body, the jewel.”
Self-taught, Sara Bran will then improve her skills with a jeweler friend, then with several of the best craftsmen in France. “One of my master expertise was the glyptics and he taught me to exercise my eyes. He saw at a glance the defect of the pieces, and taught me to perceive the delicacy of every detail and feel the material.” She will learn the technical work on precious metals and discover the technique of manual cutting, which is a traditional technique of sawing with the saw boc-wire. “This classic technique allows to make openings in the metal to set stones for example, but I also saw there a field of new ornamental exploration, with games of shade, fine decorations, minutiae. It fascinated me!” She loves this demanding work of precision, meticulousness and patience, and starts her quest bringing light into original creations.
Inspired by lace
In 2008, Sara Bran is invited to Lisbon for a seminar of masters of Portuguese and French art, and there, she will begin to take an interest in textile lace. “With the exception of the material, I saw a lot of similarity with my work in patterns and ornamentations.” The National Museum of Decorative Arts in Lisbon for the first time accepted to take a contemporary artist in residence. Sara will take up the challenge and will carry out for two years an immense research work on textile laces, interacting with the art masters and in relation with the great museums and houses of Europe. The artist will collect old patterns and pieces of lace, wherever she will go; a repertoire of motifs and associations, rhythms in fact. And she will reproduce or reinterpret them in gold, her favorite material, giving birth to her first collection: “The Gold of Time” which will be the subject of one of the two exhibitions in Lisbon in 2009 and 2010.
At that time, Sara Bran meets the embroiderers that keep the heritage alive to some extent. Belgian lace for example; but also the French point of Alençon or the lace of Argentan, both inscribed in the cultural heritage of Unesco. “It is a rare needlepoint technique of an extreme finesse. They would spend 10 to 15 hours on one cm2 of lace!” The jeweler artist will also undertake a research on alloys, forging and construction for her enormous challenge: to get the same finesse, lightness and flexibility in her creations, as they were made by textile laces. “At some point, I needed to diverse to create my own personal alphabet.” She will then begin to create her own geometric and organic patterns: Stars, flowers, butterflies, seeds or leaves are for example motifs that are found throughout her work, in addition to major themes such as the axis of time, the marine universe and the secrets of the heart.
A remarkable art
It took her twelve years of practice to master her art as a virtuoso. A vision, a detail of nature, a fragment of life gives me an emotion, and I will transcribe these snapshots into timeless jewels. Sara makes a sketch then a precise drawing which she then traces on plates, that are opaque sheets from which she will gradually remove the material, after drilling holes with precision drills. Then, with her saw-bone saw blade, she cuts freehand with extreme precision, a movement repeated thousands of times. This intense work needs concentration and it can last up to 600 hours for one piece of art, until the final polishing, the stonesetting and crimping. A lot of patience to achieve pure and delicate creations that make metal seem to defy gravity; with lines and rhythms as a poem or music. “I needed a job, so I invented it!” A job that fully uses all her skills : drawing and sculpture that forms the basis of the sketch and construction. Then the techniques of jewelry to get the high quality of Haute Joaillerie. “My work has evolved over time. It is more accurate and the level of finishing is better. I also have an exceptional crimper who, in each project, dares to challenge the limits of the possible.”
Her unique art is now recognized worldwide, and Sara Bran collaborates, in addition to her personal collections, with the big houses of the Place Vendôme or creates private orders. She has created art works in collaboration with the Piaget house and has recently dressed the rare bottles of Guerlain’s “La petite robe noire” perfume for an exclusive collection. Sara Bran distinguished herself in numerous competitions: she was a finalist of Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour L’intelligence de la main in 2010 and won the MNRA Fèvres Grand Prix of Creation in 2011. She cultivates, however, the art of simplicity and discretion. We can find her immersed in nature or practicing martial arts such as high-level Karate, because there, she finds her language and inspiration to regaining the balance of her body and soul.
Projects and commitment
Sara Bran currently presents until November 4, 2018 an exceptional exhibition “Gold of Secrets” at the museum Le Secq des Tournelles in Rouen. “It is the result of a meeting with the former curator, who came to meet me at the show Les Fêvres.” 80 exceptional pieces are exhibited alongside with ironwork treasures of the museum in a sophisticated scenography featuring a dialogue between her art of gold masterpieces and the craftsmanship of exquise iron work. Her award-winning works include the “Au coeur de la dentelle Guipure 2010” necklace the “Point d’Alençon” collar made in 2014 and the “Col de Natilde”.
Sara Bran is a true pioneer leading several projects together. She is preparing an international high-level show that is held every two years where she will present her creations; then her next exhibition, in two or three years, in a new museum. Her collaborations continue this summer, especially with a Parisian fashion house. But, one of her most treasured projects is to create a connection between arts and nature with a focus on conservation and biodiversity. “It is first a purely artistic work which I am realizing at the moment in collaboration with renowned photographers.” Tablets in gold lace that will show endangered species. She will exhibit some pieces in preview in October near Paris, before a planned exhibition in 2019. “And we will go further!” Sara Bran is creating an association this summer where she will be serving as President to bring together artisans of excellence, explorers and navigators all committed to the protection of the natural environment all over the world. “It is so important as an artist, to raise awareness and to act for the conservation of our fabulous natural heritage.” Because our balance comes from this the very essence of untouched beauty as pure as nature intended!
Sara Bran is indeed a very special artist and her unusual career deserves our consideration and respect. She has a kind of creative genius and has dedicated all her time, talent and sensitivity to the exploration and expression of beauty. Her artistic work is remarkable, fruit of a physical and mental asceticism, where pure attention becomes creation of a feast for the eyes. She continues today her mission as a nature’s ambassador, showing us so well the infinite delicacy and all the complexity and beauty of our natural world. Let’s follow her gaze piercing the depths to better transcend the world!
Interview held by Carine Mouradian on June 2, 2018, in Rouen
Link to the website of Sara Bran
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