It is a rarity for the Brooklyn Museum to host a trade fair, but December 14 and 15, the American Fine Craft Show arrives in the landmark museum’s Beaux-Arts Court. On display, 11 am to 6 pm, will be art, crafts, furniture, and the show’s true gems—handcrafted jewelry from artisans from around the world. More than a dozen fine jewelers will display their wares in the hallowed halls of the historic museum.
One of the featured exhibitors, Christine Mackellar, is a Brit now living in Brooklyn. We sat down for a chat about her current work.
A Conversation with Christine Mackellar, a featured jeweler at the American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn
Jeweler Christine Mackellar’s studio is in Brooklyn’s Gowanus section where she appreciates the special quality of the light essential both to the success of her garden and to her husband’s work: He’s a painter.
“One reason we both live and work in Brooklyn is my garden which has a huge influence on my work; I have to get my hands into soil,” says Mackellar.
In a way the borough also has impact, “In the sense that so many interesting and surprising things float past me to jumpstart my imagination and refocus a direction: Creative people and so much going on, not necessarily jewelry-related. I might see how to assemble something in a new way by looking at the props of the dance company next door.”
When Mackellar exhibits outside the borough, do people remark about her connection to Brooklyn? “They do, especially at juried craft shows” where the location of her studio is usually posted. “ In the past people were surprised both my British accent and choice of location. Many, especially those who grew up in the borough, used to say, “Why do you live there?” These days the remarks range widely from puzzlement to jealousy—a real switch. Many now boast ‘My kids live in Williamsburg.’”
What explains the Brooklyn renaissance? “My theory is, that in the South Brooklyn neighborhoods artists noticed warehouses and rundown housing; so lots of relatively cheap spaces close to Manhattan. Over 25 years the influx of creativity gained momentum, along the way restoring and re-imagining run down and grungy places and attracting wider attention.” says Mackellar.“We have relatives in Latvia who after seeing a TV spotlight covering Smith Street were impressed that we lived in the place to be.” chmackellar.com