Benjamin Tracy says he has kept his eye on the winning pieces of the JAA competition with amazement and had always planned, one day, to enter with a piece of his own. Last year, he felt the time was right, and his win in 2021 only inspired him to enter again this year.
My piece was inspired by the Dutch artist MC Escher. It must have been subliminal, because I didn’t set out to pay homage to this artist, but ever since I was young, I was captivated by so-called impossible constructions, such as his 1960 lithograph “Ascending and Descending”.
While I was sketching out ideas, the right side of my mind must have been drawing on those early influences. I named this ring in French—“Le Chemin des Rêves”—because I spent years designing and making jewellery in France which had always been a dream of mine when I was studying as an apprentice here on the Gold Coast. It translates as “The Pathway to Dreams” and I do believe that it’s those dreams that I’ve had along the pathway of life that keep inspiring me.
I’ve always loved designing and creating thought-provoking pieces, but sometimes I get caught up in the infinite day-to-day activities. When there is an opportunity to create a piece for an Awards its finite. This pushes me to challenge my thoughts and skills of how jewellery can look, feel and be crafted.
For me, jewellery has been a form of art more than anything else. In fact, before I became a jeweller, I wanted to create artworks, but was never quite sure in which medium, and it wasn’t until an excursion to an art school that I discovered silver and goldsmithing, and realized that was how I wanted express myself. As much as a sculpture or a canvas evokes certain emotions, so too does a piece of jewellery, but with the added benefit that jewellery adorns the wearer, is transportable and can be enjoyed no matter where or when.
It sounds cliché but winning this award means a lot to me. It reminds me how fortunate I am that I can make jewellery, that people are touched in some way by a piece that has come to life from my heart and head through my hands, and this win has encouraged me to continue making unique pieces. I think that The JAA Awards are such an institution here in Australia, and its such a fantastic opportunity for jewellers to showcase their ideas and skills. It’s a great promotion of Australian jewellery and it’s really never too early or too late to give it a go. You may just surprise yourself and others while you’re at it.
It’s been 33 years since I started my life as a jeweller, and it has presented me with so many opportunities and life-changing experiences. Commencing as an apprentice on the Gold Coast to spending a year working with goldsmiths in Bali, then having the honour of working at ‘The Crown Jewellers’ Garrard & Asprey in London for a decade.
After living and working in France for nearly five years, I returned to Australia, where I reside back on the Gold Coast with my French wife, Soazig, and our four kids. And it is all those experiences that inspire the jewellery that I create. I have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic craftspeople throughout my career and it is thanks to them, and the opportunities they provided me, that I’m the jeweller I am today. Now, running my business for eight years, I’d like to thank my dedicated team and our loyal clients, for without them none of this would be possible.