John Carnes

Artist’s Statement

My Current work is a joyful expression of our urban existence here in Toronto.

From the deliberate cool

of modern architecture

to the riotous anarchy of graffiti

the hard steel and glass of subways and streetcars,

and their fragile, colorful passengers

the dissonant juxtapositions

of cultures, age groups, life styles and beliefs,


like some great Jazz Symphony

the sensual confetti

of sights, sounds and smells

that make us who we are:

this is my inspiration


In 1996, at the age of 31, John redirected his creative energies from music (he is a bassist), to metalsmithing and jewellery design.  Aside from some basic jewellery courses and specialized workshops, John considers himself ‘formally self-taught’; (a phrase coined by bassist Jaco Pastorius).  Relentless (and occasionally, reckless,) experimentation and a love of color and line, has led John to an interesting niche of jewellery design.

The Japanese metal art of Mokume Gane affords John a limitless palette of color and design possibilities, as well as the satisfaction derived from working with one of the most demanding of jewellery techniques.

John’s inspiration is derived mainly from the materials he works with; what can and cannot be asked of a given material defines the boundaries within which artistic decisions are made.  Paradoxically, the more clearly one understands these limitations, the morel limitless the creative possibilities become.