Felieke van der Leest was born and raised in the Netherlands, but since 2008 lives in West Norway. She got her jeweller diploma in 1996 when she graduated from the Jewellery Department at Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.
Contemporary jewellery artist FELIEKE VAN DER LEEST in her artworks uses such techniques as knitting, crocheting, and beading – using special, extremely fine yarns and tailor-made needles and hooks. Connecting the precious metals with textiles and toy animals, the artist creates a witty, attractive and colorful jewellery that brings out a smile and leaves no spectator indifferent.
“When I work with colors, I feel like an artist when I am working with metal, I feel like a constructor , and when I am working with toys , I feel like a child, ” the artist comments on her creative process.
Plastic fish, seals, bears, giraffes, elephants, gorillas, dogs, birds and other animals live in the author’s works of art. Toys are dressed up, cut and assembled, decorated and adorned. Transforming then both visually and conceptually, the artist manages to get them incorporate in her surreal world, discovering a new life for them.
“I think my work rather be called wearable sculptures rather than jewellery, ” the artist explains.
Despite the witty approach to the jewellery making, Felieke, with her work also touches upon such social and serious issues as animal rights and environmental protection.
“Often the carriers of my jewellery tell me stories about my artwork that I would not have been able to see in my jewellery, “explains Felieke.
Like a lot of artists I do not like to explain my work too much. I prefer the people to make their own story to each work. By telling my stories or thoughts I make it more difficult for the viewer to come up with their own stories. Mostly people look through so many kinds of glasses that they see more things in my work than I can imagine. But as a viewer myself I understand also that it is very interesting, even sometimes necessary, to know the stories the artist has about his/her works.
“Once upon a time……” that is mostly the first sentence of a European/American fairy tale.
“My West” is my personal interpretation of the stories of the Wild West (cowboys and the Indians in Northern America)
This brooch is inspired by a comic series called Lucky Luck. It is about a cowboy (who draws his gun faster than his shadow) and his loyal horse Jolly Joker. I didn’t know that before but the maker of this comic is Belgian, so not American at all. The last frame of the comic is almost always a variation of Lucky Luck riding his horse towards the sunset and the words “The End” or “Einde” in Dutch. This type of frame was stuck in my memory.
Prairie dogs live in borrows under the ground. When they are above the ground they are always looking around them to see if there is any danger. This prairie dog wears a golden beak of an eagle with viewfinder glasses. He “flies” in a special flying machine that looks like an eagle claw searching for new and unknown territories. When wearing this piece as a bracelet you need to keep your arm up, just like a falconer who has his bird of prey on his arm.
The title Crazy Horse has nothing to do with the real Crazy Horse (the native American Indian man who was a leader of the Lakota tribe.) This horse is a crazy horse. There is this toy horse children “put on” which makes them do pretend of riding a horse. I played with that and put the horse head looking backwards. So with the tale in front it looks now that the horse is urinating. This is a fun piece I think.
In this piece the animals wear masks like some Indian tribes do at their ceremonies. These masks are inspired by the faces of carved pumpkins used at Halloween.
This group of animals is at a meeting, I have no idea what kind of meeting. They are not looking very happy to me. I played a bit with the title of the AA, the Alcoholics Anonymous. (people who have an alcohol problem and come together to talk about it) The word “Incognitos” is a bit double when using “Anonymous”.
As an object they are sitting in a circle on a little carpet. The middle red part could be a fire. The black/ white red and green could represent a roulette wheel. Nowadays in a lot of poor Indian reservations the main income is from legal gambling. Gambling can be addictive, there is also a group called GA.