Egle Silko / Call me a Small Things Maker
Egle is a daydreamer materializing her pleasant thoughts through jewelry. After exploring art scenes in different countries, today this Lithuanian artist creates in Denmark which is full of vivid lifestyles and inspiring stories. We were invited to have a chat in her current studio – oldish attic with a charming view of red Copenhagen‘s rooftops used to serve to many Danish jewelry legends years ago - "I feel closer to clouds when I work here," -Egle laughs and jumps into a conversation.
by MARIJA SINICAITE
photographs by SARUNAS KAZLAUSKAS & EWA GODD
“Abstract – shapeless and limitless in the most creative way”.
If your jewelry could tell us a story, what it would be about?
When I was little, I used to play a game. The idea was to scoop a small hole in the ground and fill it with various possessions including colorful flowers, shiny candy wrappers, and other twiddly bits. The last step was to put a piece of glass over it and cover the edges with the soil or sand.
I feel that entirely the same matter applies when I’m making jewelry; moments, details of my daily life, snippets of my memories, findings, and emotions are encapsulated into a piece of my jewelry. I aim to work following an intuitive, spontaneous, almost elemental process that turns into a state of utter concentration to create an intimate universe capturing physically and emotional state of mind.
Egle, please share with us how did you discover this passion for jewelry and the first steps of being in this industry.
I think that since being a kid I meant to be a small things maker.
First, I started as a collector - my pockets were always full of tiny stones from the beach, chestnuts from the park or buttons from my grandmother place. The fascination for little things led me to the art school and Vilnius Academy of Art straight after. I started with the textile design first, coming from a family where treads, fabrics, and sewing machine were everyday tools, this looked like an obvious choice for me.
The very first time I had contact with jewelry was in the autumn of 2010 at Dokuz Eylul University in Izmir, Turkey. I went there as a textile design student for the Erasmus exchange programme. As an exchange student, I had the freedom to choose the subjects I liked as long as I had enough credits covered. This department was called Fashion and Textile Design. They also had a jewelry line with beginners class which I was welcome to join. Everything was so fascinating! I remember spending hours in the workshop. The silver melting looked like pure magic for me and, finally, I felt ready to give it a steady shape and incorporate into some textile works. I ended up presenting a little collection of jewelry and textile combined, very primitive at that time but with lots of love and passion in it.
Today you resident in Copenhagen, Denmark. Do you think that Scandinavia wawes influence your style? Where does your inspiration come from?
The surroundings have a significant influence on my work. Before coming to Copenhagen, I used to live on an island in the middle of the Baltic sea called Bornholm. I can feel a big difference between pieces made there and the ones I did in Copenhagen. Nature, seasonal changes, living style, the environment I live and work at inspires me a lot. I absorb details, the light and the textures of my daily life. Obviously, the lifestyle in Bornholm was very slow; lots of walking on the beach and forest, soaking up the smells and sensations of nature and sea. It was an emotionally intense period as well, so my pieces were full of nuances and shades of natural colors.
Copenhagen enriched my life with a little bit of speed - literally because I am always on my bike which I am very happy about. Commuting by bike somehow allows me to feel closer to nature. I’m also lucky to work in the most inspiring studio that is located in the very heart of the city. The attic we sit at the moment has been jewelry studio since the 70s, and many honored Danish goldsmiths and silversmiths worked here. Seeing these red roofs and the way light changes on the city has been a huge inspiration for my creative universe. I also graduated from the jewelry school of the Institute Of Precious Metals in Copenhagen, so I definitely got this Danish design influence. However, I could feel - and lots of people would agree - that I am very different from most of the Danish designers.
Even though you live and create abroad why did you decide to have a Lithuanian name (Šilko) for your business? What is the idea behind your name?
I guess it comes from my textile background and my original surname shorter version. Textile, in the end, was a jumping point for me where I started my creative carrier and because of that, I am lucky to have a very different approach to jewelry making. Materiality, tactility, speculation with the textures and surfaces are the features which describe my jewelry. I think I got those features from the textile fabrics and fibers I used to work with.
Do you think that the cultural aspect somehow plays a role in your works?
It does indeed. We used to discuss with my school’s headmaster in Copenhagen how exotic I was for my Danish colleagues. It is partly a joke, but the place I came from and the way I was raised play a prominent role in my creative practice. Being in a creative field outside homeland makes my cultural differences more sharp and recognizable. I was always a nature kid, and I feel grateful for my parents who taught me to appreciate the beauty of it. In the early years of my studies, I was in the summer practice with one famous Lithuanian painter. He looked at my works and told me to go to the forest and try to see how many different green shades could be found there. Later with my father, I spent summers sailing in the Baltics. So the power of wild nature has always had a strong influence on me.
Recently, I was chatting with a Swedish creator about differences between Baltic and Scandinavian artists. He expressed an interesting thought that Swedes got a little spoiled of the good life because they haven‘t been in conflict for 300 years. He believed that is not always good for the artist if you compare it to the Baltics where our history is so reflected in the creative field.
What can you say about today’s jewelry and its makers in the Baltics? Do you see how it might alter in the future years?
I think jewelry and its popularity in this region have been growing beautifully in the last years. Especially in Estonia which has been and remains a place where lots of Lithuanians jewelry artists are educated. It has rough, unique, full of tales and rituals aesthetics that are very authentic and peculiar to this region. It has a sculptural narrative of nostalgy and darkness. Maybe because of a rough history or perhaps of still wild and human unoccupied nature. One of my favorite Estonian artist Tanel Veenre told me that Baltic people have an exceptional ability to see the light since it's never so bright compared with South Europe for example - one develops the eye for nuance and shades and starts seeing it very sharply. There is a great intimate jewelry art scene over there, showing excellent results not only in the Baltics but also internationally. It is still small, and so it has a vast potential to grow and be seen in the future.