From an innovative career spanning decades in the Arts, Level 5 student Jade Valour has always been nurturing her creative journey. We spoke to Jade about her time so far at The Learning Connexion.
“Creativity has been the motivating force in my life, and my saving grace in difficult times. Drama classes and theatre performances in my teens; musical training and professional life as a young opera singer; retraining my voice as a solo performance artist, jazz vocalist and beginning to teach voice in the 90s.
Some of my most profound creative experiences and works have grown out of deep childhood trauma, and I quite literally would not have survived without being able to be creative.”
The Learning Connexion’s diverse range of courses have drawn Jade on a new path into working with jewellery.
“My first term at TLC Level 4 with [tutor] Karla was so much fun, doing a bit of everything from painting and drawing to creating zines and cartoons, a mask based on a cast of my face, and a vessel for a travelling egg!
The diversity of challenges kept me on my toes creatively and was enjoyable, stimulating, and ultimately very satisfying. We had a great and very diverse group of people with whom it was fun to collaborate.
I had originally come to TLC with the thought of focusing on ceramics, but then along came the jewellery Block Week course with cuttlefish and sand-casting – and I was hooked!
Since then my focus – at least in terms of the classes I’ve taken – shifted to jewellery. As I already had a certain skill set in ceramics, but virtually none in jewellery, I felt it would be worth my while to develop a skill set that would begin to match my pottery skills. For this I’ve had wonderful tutors who have guided and helped me to grow and develop my skills and my imagination in creating works using a diversity of techniques and mediums – Keri-Mei, Rani and Bill.
I’ve enjoyed the classes, seeing the other students make beautiful and interesting things, and the focused and sharing atmosphere.
Though my focus shifted from ceramics to jewellery, I very much enjoyed Mel’s advanced ceramics and her ability to look at a piece of work and not only see what might enhance it, but also how that might be achieved. Her thoughts and suggestions were a great help in pulling my exhibition pieces together.”
Jade has always drawn inspiration from the sea and the world of Myth, and is now incorporating that into her jewellery.
“The project that has been my focus for quite some time now involves creating pieces of jewellery and ceramics with a sea theme. Some of that work was exhibited at the Walrus Gallery and I just completed a sterling silver collier based on a fascinating piece of coral that I found in Vanuatu.
Much of my recent inspiration has come from nature, especially the sea – the colours and forms, the textures and ever-changing light.
I grew up by the ocean in Brooklyn, New York and for me, living near the sea is the best balm for my soul, as well as the place where I find my greatest creative inspiration. So it was only natural that so much of my work at TLC has reflected that love.”
“Having a Jewish background, my first experience of the spiritual world was through a deep connection to Old Testament mythology. As a child, my mother’s Bible story books with their beautiful illustrations could fascinate me for hours. Greek and Roman mythology, Grimm’s Fairy Tales – they were all an integral part of my inner life growing up.
Sometimes it’s the actual material that inspires me – the colour and movement of a glaze combination, the texture of a clay, the shimmer of velvet, the iridescence of a stone, a feather, a butterfly wing; the reaction of a metal with fire; the shape of a piece of driftwood, the beautiful pattern on a Japanese kimono.
Sometimes inspiration comes seemingly out of nowhere – a leaf with raindrops on the street, a mushroom on the path near TLC, something someone says in passing, an errant thought during a walk on the beach.
At Wellington Potters Jade spoke to several women who had been taking courses at The Learning Connexion and they spoke in glowing terms about The Learning Connexion and the courses they were taking.
They suggested that I check out the possibility of applying for a scholarship. I decided to give it a go, and I was very fortunate to receive a full scholarship for Level 4. I continued to Level 5 and I will always be glad that I did. It has been a wonderful experience that I would not want to have missed for the world.
Jade is ready with advice for those wanting to pursue a creative pathway at The Learning Connexion.
“There are so many possible paths you can take starting out at TLC, depending on where you’re at in your life and what you’ve previously done. But whether you come to TLC with a definite idea of the direction you want to take, or whether you have no concrete idea at all, my advice would simply be to keep an open mind and follow your instincts and inclinations. You may end up going in a direction that you never would have expected, or discovering a talent and love that you never knew you had. This is what makes TLC so exciting.
Jade says her creative journey has been transformed during her time at The Learning Connexion.
“Discovering new ways of expressing my creativity has been a joy, a blessing and, in some ways, a surprise! I’ve discovered that I have abilities in areas that I never thought I had any talent at all – painting and drawing, for example. Though I haven’t pursued these areas in actual classes, the knowledge that I can experiment with a bit more confidence in these various mediums has given me confidence to expand my creative horizons.”
Find out how you can apply for one of our scholarships to study at The Learning Connexion School of Art and Creativity.