Comfort in art

Design by Jean Hughes.

The first time I discovered Jean Hughes and the beautiful jewelry she creates was when she had it on display at a shopping centre in Halifax. Her work is captivating: bright, multi- coloured beads that she transforms into lovely earrings, necklaces, and brooches.

After that chance encounter, I wanted to learn more about her artistry. She born in Moncton, and began creating at her grandmother’s side. “When I was only 10 or 11, my grandmother—who lived with my parents—would always find time every evening to teach me how to knit and crochet,” she says.

During her early teens, her grandmother again nudged her along her path “She bought me a sewing machine and I soon began sewing all of my own clothes,” Hughes recalls. “I soon found that I needed to keep my hands busy all the time. I constantly found myself anxious to come up with ideas for things I could make. This included embroidering lovely items, and I also began attending workshops that inspired me to design and construct beaded jewelry.”

In 1996 she faced a breast cancer diagnosis and an interminable six-month wait for a prognosis. Remembering her evenings creating art with her grandmother brought comfort. “This involved me spending hours making a really unique cushion that was covered with stunningly beautiful beads,” she says. “The process was very demanding and because it was necessary to completely concentrate on the materials I was using. It was therapeutic for me.”

After a series chemotherapy and radiation treatments, she recovered and again began producing jewelry featuring beads and fresh water pearls from manufactures across the world. She now sells her work through the Art 1274 Hollis gallery in Halifax.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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