Chapter 3 – Narrative Themes
Maker-Wearer-Viewer (M-W-V) – A Curator’s Rationale
In order to research the prevalent narrative themes in Europe I embarked on a project to curate an exhibition that would bring together key practitioners in the field from as many European countries as possible. This chapter examines that curatorial process, identifies the current themes prevalent amongst contemporary makers and summarises the work submitted for exhibition. The project started during the summer of 2002 as a joint venture between Dr Eva Julien Kausel, an anthropologist and independent gallery director (Black & Kausel, Paris)and myself. However, due to a change in personal circumstances Eva Kausel withdrew from the project in 2003 and I continued as sole curator. The exhibition, titled Maker-Wearer-Viewer (M-W-V), opened in the Spring of 2005 at The Glasgow School of Art. It toured to the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh and finally, in October of 2005, to Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
When discussing the motivation behind such an ambitious exhibition as Jewellery Moves Amanda Game says, ‘Jewellery Moves was intended to provide a snapshot of the most interesting, innovative and unexpected jewellery being produced by artists in the late Twentieth Century.’ (Game 2007). This echoed my own raison d’être in that the scope of M-W-V was intended as a survey, ‘a snapshot’ celebrating the diversity of current practice in Europe, with a specific focus on the contemporary narrative genre. It also facilitated the opportunity to place my own practice within this context.
Why Europe? First, perhaps a more pertinent question to ask in the early 21st Century would be, ‘What is Europe?’. The land mass and islands known as Europe is changing it’s dimension and it’s character. The European Economic Community, now called European Union, was established in 1957 with the signing of the Treaty of Rome by six neighbouring European countries. It currently consists of 27 member states which, under mutual agreement, have for the political cooperation, economic benefit and social integration of its citizens made it easier to trade and to move freely between bordering countries, assisted by the introduction of a single currency, the Euro. Boundaries, both seen and unseen have been removed. There is also agreement that no one European country should have single-power domination. This pan-European zone has emerged and grown as a result of many complex factors such as the collaboration between France and Germany during the Second World War, the Iron Curtain, the Cold War, the reunification of Germany in 1990 and the demise in 1991 of the Soviet Union. The European Union continues to metamorphose and future enlargement may include the Balkans and Turkey. As countries such as Turkey enter the frame of those applying for membership, the religious mix could change from a predominantly Christian population, to include a Muslim country thereby adding a new dimension to the Union.
Why Europe? As mentioned in the previous Chapter, there has always been a population flow between the individual, and relatively small, countries that constitute Europe. I personally identify myself as a Scot and British, but increasingly describe myself as a European who is located between the cities of Glasgow and Paris. To have restricted the survey of narrative themes to a UK level would have overlooked the opportunity to examine the wider platform which a European perspective provides. Given that the face of Europe is in a state of flux, this seemed a pertinent moment to examine the field. Further, the scale of the survey covered by the exhibition Maker-Wearer-Viewer was at that time uncharted territory in terms of contemporary narrative jewellery, and therefore worthy of research study. (It is important to acknowledge that World events have also changed the cultural melange and fabric of societies in other countries on other continents which is worthy of independent study outwith this research.)
When selecting those who would be invited to participate Eva Kausel and I pooled our combined expertise and knowledge of the subject. Museum curators and gallery directors with relevant prior experience were also consulted, including Amanda Game (The Scottish Gallery), Dr Elizabeth Goring (National Museums of Scotland), Marie-José van den Hout (Galerie Marzee) and Michael Pell (onefivesix Gallery, Sydney). ‘Complete objectivity is an unattainable goal. I always prefer to talk about the importance of informed subjectivity; a point of view. Any act of curating, much as any form of art making, involves making informed choice.’ (Game 2007).
Our selection criteria was centred on a definition that the maker’s general output had to demonstrate a consistently explicit narrative content and command the highest possible standing in each country represented. The point of consistency is an important one. There are many key practitioners who occasionally deviate from one genre of contemporary jewellery to another and who may, for example, generate narrative work for a themed exhibition but whose output is more commonly positioned within a different strand. M-W-V was not a themed exhibition however, but a survey of those makers who have deliberately chosen to work in this genre over a prolonged period of time. As objectively as possible, a list was drawn from established and emerging gallery artists, through academic contacts, by word of mouth peer recommendation, from previous exhibition catalogues and publication searches, and from those makers already known to the curators, personally or by reputation. Makers not previously known to the curators were invited to submit a curriculum vitae, visual material and a statement describing the content of their output. This early planning research generated a formidable amount of material and a valuable resource in its own right. (fig 4.1) Of all those invited (77 makers in total), only three makers ultimately failed to participate. One did not wish to be described in a collective sense as a narrative jeweller, another missed all the deadlines and the third was in the process of mounting a major solo exhibition which coincided with the M-W-V dates.
For curatorial and logistical reasons, participants were invited to submit three to five pieces each, with the proviso that no installation work or unwearable objects be submitted. I felt this number to be sufficient for each maker to communicate their particular preoccupations, whilst keeping the handling and transporting of work within manageable parameters. The exception to this was my invitation to Mah Rana, to mount her ongoing interactive installation Meanings and Attachments during the private view of the exhibition in Glasgow. Presenting a lively dimension to the exhibition opening, Rana’s project exemplifies the very essence of the wearing of jewellery that it is ostensibly about people.
One of the greatest joys in mounting M-W-V was opening the packages as they arrived from all over Europe. The excitement of handling a Bischoff, of marvelling at Sieber-Fuchs, being amused by van der Leest and Bielander, and moved by Stofer and Braham, was shared with staff and students in the jewellery and silversmithing department at The Glasgow School of Art. By the time the first exhibition opened, there were 74 participants from 20 European countries showing over 300 works, making this the largest exhibition of European narrative jewellery yet mounted. Reviewed in Crafts magazine by critic Philippa Swan;
This exhibition was no mean undertaking, drawing together work of over 70 jewellers from 20 European countries…a staggering opportunity to see so much jewellery. The narrative genre by definition includes the presence of a storyteller, the maker of the jewel. For many makers, their work becomes an extension of their personality…extending the maker’s persona, a talking art form. (Swan 2005: pp 64-65).
As a clear definition of narrative jewellery emerged through my research, discussed in chapter 1, so too did a range of descriptive categories that could be used to position the makers’ narratology. To ascertain what key themes, if any, were prevalent, three main strands were identified, each with descriptive sub-categories thereby establishing a narrative taxonomy, a classification in relation to general principals of the subject. These categories were given no particular hierarchical status:
relationships, identity, gender, sex, race, culture, reflection, memory, childhood, life and death, place.
SOCIAL & POLITICAL COMMENT:
environment, consumerism, sexuality, subversion, politics.
story telling, pictorial realism, nature, landscape, figurative, icon, talisman, metaphor.
Participants were asked to highlight which of the above categories best described their own work, or to identify a new category of their own choosing. I had expected this to be a fairly simple process with clearly defined outcomes. What transpired required a paradigm shift as, with the benefit of hindsight, makers reasonably selected several sub groups to describe their output, and some chose from more than one main strand. As a participant myself, I approached this process with the same subjectivity and found, like most of the participants, it was neither possible nor desirable to position one’s work within a single grouping. Work evolves and therefore cannot be restricted by terminology, indeed a piece of work can transcend and mutate during the design process, according to changing cognitive circumstances. This process highlighted that a piece of jewellery or body of work, has not one meaning but a complex, multi-layered depth, which can be read on different levels depending on the maker, wearer or viewers’ personal frame of reference as it relates to the subject matter. I discuss this further in Chapter 4. Also, makers are not defined by a theme or category, rather, a maker may select a specific thematic approach to present a current or particular body of work.
It had been my strategy to design the exhibition display around the narrative strands listed above, to group according to content. However, analysis of the prevalent themes emerged as a result of the exhibition, not prior to it. As this aspect of my planning had presented an unclear picture, I consequently took the decision to show the work geographically by country, in alphabetical order. Echoing the format of the exhibition, this is how the makers appear in the accompanying exhibition catalogue, designed as a freestanding publication in its own right, together with artists’ statements. (appendix ii) This decision added a positive dimension to the exhibition as visitors were able to identify any perceived difference between one country and another by themselves. It also avoided any curatorial interpretation which I felt may have been considered an unwelcome factor by the makers.
The exhibition display at The Glasgow School of Art was designed to be viewed within glass vitrines.
The vitrine reinforces the notion of the unique, untouchable and unattainable and, perhaps significantly, has its roots in the medieval church reliquary. It therefore enhances the inherent visual power of an object to catch a viewer’s attention and to stimulate contemplation. (Putnam 2001: 36).
There is always an uncomfortable dichotomy when displaying jewellery statically within showcases. It requires to be protected, yet is divorced from the human form, the vehicle through which it truly comes to life, being handled and worn. However, a working Art School and iconic building accessible for public tours, security was of paramount importance. When the exhibition finally showed at Galerie Marzee, the work was displayed on open tables, allowing visitors the freedom to handle and position the work on the body. (figs 4.2 – 4.5)
The display of over 300 items of jewellery also offered an overview of European narrative through diversity, subject matter, the use and range of materials and technique. Reviewed by Dr Sandra Wilson
The exhibition is arranged by country, enabling us to make comparisons and determine for ourselves whether differences in culture, values, environment or education are discernable. There is certainly a different aesthetic noticeable for example between UK narrative jewellers and the rest of Europe. The Norwegian work is also less illustrative, although you get the sense that what constitutes the narrative genre is stronger in countries like Spain. (Wilson 2005: 8).
Maker-Wearer-Viewer (M-W-V) – Symposium
As the exhibition opening at The Glasgow School of Art drew closer, it became clear that many of the participants would be attending the private view, offering an additional research, and educational opportunity. I organised a one day Symposium to mark the event, thereby presenting a forum for discussion around notions of narrative. It was Chaired by the maker and academic Jivan Astfalck (UK) with guest speakers Ruudt Peters (The Netherlands), Ramon Puig Cuyas (Spain), Konrad Mehus (Norway) and the writer, Liesbeth den Besten (The Netherlands). A panel discussion, which concluded the day, included the curator Dr Elizabeth Goring (UK), Crafts Officer Andy Horn (UK), writer and academic Professor Jorunn Veiteberg (Norway) and myself.
During his Maker-Wearer-Viewer Symposium lecture titled Hate, Ruudt Peters proclaimed, ‘I hate narrative jewellery’, and could not understand why he had been invited to participate in the M-W-V exhibition. He took the position that narrative jewellery is too easy, too explicit, ‘You see what it is…jewellery needs irritation. We are pleasing our audience, afraid that we are not understood.’ (Peters 2005: MWV). Peters wishes the viewer to have a more visceral engagement with his objects, a gut reaction, to work a little harder, rather than a lengthy explanation by the maker. It calls into question whether the maker’s interpretation undermines the work, or do we require to navigate the narrative without the benefit of the maker’s creative compass? I would disagree with Peters’ view that what you see is necessarily what you get, also the assumption that explanation is handed to the viewer on a plate. In a gallery situation, the work generally stands alone, without explanation. The cues, prompts and entry points are simply presented to the viewer, by means of visual representation, for onward interpretation. Having made his bold opening statement, Peters proceeded to deliver an eloquent discourse on the narrative content of his work, placing himself very much at the centre of his narrative journey concerning gender, philosophy and place. His lecture also endorsed why I selected him for M-W-V and, perhaps, why he accepted.
Together with Peters, Puig Cuyas and Mehus also delivered illuminating presentations based around their personal practice, while den Besten discussed her own research on the work of Dutch makers and through this, questioned the premise of the exhibition title: Maker-Wearer-Viewer. Den Besten felt the most important component, the message, was missing and that the title should read either Maker-Message-Wearer-Viewer, or Maker-Wearer-Message-Viewer making the message, or narrative meaning, a more explicit part of the discourse. It is, she felt, the meaning that we talk about, the meaning that is at the core of our discussion. I concur with den Besten on this point, but if one were to take this to its logical conclusion the title may reasonably have read Maker-Message-Wearer-Message-Viewer, as the point of intervention between each of these, is the message. My decision for restricting the title as presented was based on the implicit implication of narrative in the title, within the context of the exhibition.
There was lively discussion during the panel/audience session, with a particular observation from Jorunn Veiteberg on the content of the M-W-V exhibition,
What you see is that the brooch is very dominant as the medium. The concept of narrativity presented here is so closely linked to the idea of the brooch as a jewellery piece, as an object in itself, not related to the body. Isn’t there also some narrative jewellery that relates very differently to the body, extends the body, works with the body in a different way, that also is story telling? (Veiteberg 2005: M-W-V).
Despite there being numerous examples in M-W-V to challenge this position (e.g. Borup, Markonsalo, Hipólito, Stofer), it is an interesting observation, why do so many narrative jewellers make brooches? I responded, ‘I take the point about the brooches, I only make brooches, but they are placed on the body, the body is a person, and the person will interact with the piece in whatever way they choose.’ (Cunningham 2005: M-W-V). As a maker who works exclusively with the brooch form, I discuss my perspective more fully in Chapter 4.
There was general discussion around the need for more communication, more discussion and debate outwith the forum of academia. Also on the theme of communication, whether work in exhibitions should be more explicitly described. I expressed that there is a balance to be struck, that the audience has to invest some time, make some effort to learn and engage with what they are looking at. If we present full descriptive meaning, there is no room for personal interpretation. Jorunn Veiteberg sighted a critic who, in reviewing an exhibition of work by Konrad Mehus, could not interpret his Road Sign series. Veiteberg stated her position that ‘seeing is not understanding, that you cannot understand without knowledge.’ (Veiteberg 2005: M-W-V). I agree with this, although acquiring knowledge requires that someone is prepared to learn. For me, an audience access point for the exhibits in M-W-V was through the catalogue, which contained the artist statements. I did not want additional text, video or photographs beside the work, thereby keeping peripheral material to a minimum, what Astfalck describes as, ‘…extra noise around an object.’ (Astfalck 2005: M-W-V). Elizabeth Goring made a valuable point from the position of working within the public sector,
I work in a general museum, not in a gallery. I think there is a real problem. I work with a lot of people who don’t have a visual language, don’t have the necessary way of responding to objects. We do move in a very fast world where information comes in really quickly. If they don’t get that information within 2 seconds, they don’t really want to know. A lot of the work we’re looking at is so challenging that it alienates them and they’re not going to make that step, so we have to help them along the way. (Goring 2005: M-W-V).
When asked what strategies she uses Goring suggested a number of mechanisms – ‘…handling sessions, context juxtaposition, images, but not the written word.’ (Goring 2005: M-W-V). This has resonance with the earlier comment by Putnam regarding how we approach work viewed within glass vitrines, displayed like museum exhibits, and the point made in Chapter 1 recording the response to exhibits in the Alvor Palace in Lisbon. Compensating for this distance between the viewer and the object, I organised a series of ‘wider access’ workshops during the M-W-V exhibition in Glasgow. Groups of young people attended jewellery making workshops, each session starting with a gallery talk in the exhibition.
There was extended discussion during the panel/audience session around the exhibition concept and title. This was followed by general debate in response to earlier presentations; whether it is desirable or necessary for makers to explain the narrative content of their work against a more visceral response, the prominence of the brooch among makers as a vehicle for creative expression, the scale of jewellery and how we respond to and access the narrative within the context of an exhibition or museum showcase. These were all points of departure with no specific conclusions reached.
When viewed as a map, the range of narrative strands and 23 sub-categories that makers were invited to align their work against is indicated in fig 4.6. In expanding this frame of reference, the 74 participants identified a further 18 sub categories under Other making a list of 41 with 225 hits in total. This produced a more comprehensive picture of narrative activity, requiring the modified map presented as fig 4.7.
As mentioned previously, these categories did not represent rigid boundaries, rather the narrative of a single piece of work frequently transcended the groupings, expressing interconnectedness and adding depth to the commentary. Coming from the self, the maker, it could be said that each piece of narrative work must take an implicitly personal viewpoint, even when the impersonal is the thematic intention, as in Bettina Speckner’s work. That said prevalent themes emerged. According to the response by makers themselves, the grouping of sub texts under the category Personal Comment was by far the most popular arena for creative expression, the explicitly personal, internally driven commentary, receiving 101 responses. Within this, Personal Identity was the most popular with 19 makers identifying it as the particular focus for their work. The next popular were Metaphor (18), followed by Story Telling (16) and Environment (16), then Reflection (15).Cultural issues (14), Relationships (13), Memory/Childhood (12) and issues of Life and Death(12) were also recurrent themes within the hierarchy.
Of these, only one received no indication of interest, Racial Comment. It would be a mistake to extrapolate too much from this lack of response, especially as matters of ethnicity have a current resonance in Europe. However, one might surmise that the ethnographics of the population of this continent is perhaps less defined by an indigenous/immigrant division, which we see explored through the narrative of for example Joyce Scott in the US and Areta Wilkinson in New Zealand.
This comprehensive survey shows narrative to be a distinct and hugely diverse genre within the field of contemporary studio jewellery in Europe. Further, there is no specific reference by makers indicating that technical or material investigation, texture or form, are motivating factors, although materials selected by makers constitute an important vehicle through which the narrative is communicated. It confirms that the communication of ideas is central to this motivation.
There can be no specific national character that one could call European, as it is not one Nationality, but a complex interwoven population. Accepting the cosmopolitan nature of European society, one can however make general observational comment regarding the work submitted. The most concept based and least wearable work was from Portugal, and the most diverse range of narrative from France. The most materially colourful emerged from Spain while the darkest in terms of content, and palette, came from Estonia. In addition to politics, education, funding opportunities, religion, is it possible that even the quality of light and climactic temperature can affect a maker’s creativity?
Speaking of the Dutch makers, during her M-W-VSymposium lecture Liesbeth den Besten attributed a Calvinistic attitude to that countries output, ‘Dutch narrative is not illustrative… storytelling so characteristic of American jewellery’ (Besten 2005: M-W-V), while the opposite is true of much UK narrative where one observes a strong illustrative storyline. My own narrative sits within that description while the more eclectic inclusion of found objects and readymades in my work finds some connection with the Spanish aesthetic. There is no evidence to suggest however that individual countries produce only one particular category or aesthetic style of output. In addition to earlier comments by Sandra Wilson, these characteristics are further discussed in this extract from a review of the M-W-V exhibition by curator Christine Rew,
National traits and cultural differences are evidenced alongside common issues and the interchange of the jewellers, like Judy McCaig, who no longer work in the country of their birth. The exhibits are arranged alphabetically by country, and in some instances this national identity and concomitant cultural history is strong: Eileen Gatt’s silver brooches could only belong within the context of Scottish myth and legend, whilst Ramon Puig Cuyas’s poetic miniature ‘paintings’ speak powerfully of the brilliant colours and culture of Spain. (Rew 2005: 6).
Summary of The Makers
As the curator of the exhibition I recorded my response to the work as I would the viewer. In doing so it was helpful having the disjunction of seeing the pieces as exhibits, viewed without the intervention of the wearer, thereby allowing a more visceral clarity of thought.
The impact of work by Andrea Maxa Halmschlager in her Landscape series is initially characterised by the use of materials, making the viewer curious, inviting questions as to content. (fig 4.8) Through the use of latex these amorphous shapes are hugely tactile, taking on the quality of skin, mutating as though in a process of transubstantiation, the inclusion of coloured crystals adding the dimension of transmitted stellar light. Halmschlager places her work within the category of ritual and these are metaphors for the natural landscape.
In pieces such as At the end of the Way, Liliana Reyes Osma also uses metaphor in respect of story telling and similarly places herself within the grouping of ritual. (fig 4.9) Her jewellery tells something of our past, which we carry and wear into the future. It consequently makes a personal comment about identity and tradition.
Daniel von Weinberger's pieces are exuberant assemblages of readymades from the toy box and found objects, which make a personal statement about familial relationships, memory and childhood. Pieces such as Loufoque (crazy or barmy), confront and challenge us to submit to a moment of frivolous, hilarious madness. (fig 4.10)
There is a strong sense of story telling in the work of Gitte Björn. Her Disquieting Pocket Charms are a group of pieces that also confront personal identity through the use of metaphor. ‘With her body jewellery she showed us her preoccupation with myths and storytelling, as well of the fantasy world that surrounds us today, in literature as well as in movies.’ (Funder 2004: 1). (fig 4.11)
Katrine Borup places her work firmly within the realm of personal statement, with life and death a current thematic interest. In the piece Memento Mori Borup explores Western people’s relationship to death, exploring the relevance of identity, culture and relationships. (fig 4.12) This extraordinary piece (79 rings in total), paradoxically comes alive as a representation of death, when physically connected with the body. The body, and the placing of the work on the body, is an integral part of her process. ‘Usually the body plays an important part in the stories my projects tell, and the objects are often placed on non-traditional parts or places on the body.’ (Borup 2005).
Carolina Vallejo was born in Greece, and now lives in Denmark. Vallejo seeks discussion and dialogue through the interaction between the object and the wearer/viewer. (fig 4.13) Her work is a vehicle for political statement, cultural commentary, of reflection and identity. ‘I use the work for reflection…where I can link my memory with my vision and where form, texture and narrative can have an identity of their own.’ (Vallejo 2002: 18).
There is a disquieting, almost melancholic, feel to the work of Piret Hirv. His large enigmatic figurative pieces strike a reflective pose which almost defy even the maker’s comprehension. (fig 4.14)
How should I measure or describe myself? I’ll try and do it with words….It is surprising how difficult it is to express myself….The proportions altering, I cannot follow the train of thought, the rhythm becomes less obvious, the meaning of the words becomes less important. Internal emptiness creates a tension with the external form. (Hirv 2001: 52).
Describing a piece which appears in the Maker-Wearer-Viewer exhibition, Jorunn Veiteberg says;
In his brooch, Incognito, Piret Hirv presents us therefore with quite a paradox. By depicting a figure hiding behind a white sheet, it communicates a desire not to be seen, but such an eye-catching motif will guarantee its wearer anything but anonymity. (Veiteberg 2001: 24).
‘Kadri Malk… presents jewellery as its primeval state whence everything began – as a unique magic talisman.’ (Liivrand, H: p167). As with Hirv, the narrative of Kadri Mälk is framed through the ritual of story telling. Her work has an existential quality, where sorrow and pain are mixed with hope and transcendence, making such a piece as Unexpected Angel both deeply personal and, at the same time, entirely universal. (fig 4.15)
Her selections from the chaos of life…offer bridges of meaning between experience and memory, between the mind and the senses. The objects offer intimations of shared experience. They frame private worlds within a capricious external world. (Watkins 2003: 5).
In this body of work Ketli Tiitsar makes social comment through her observation of place. In her brooch Antwerp, Tiitsar is pre-occupied with wealth and its decorative manifestation in ordinary everyday objects.
For me, the driving force for creating jewellery doesn’t usually come from the mere interest in the jewellery itself or in the body. It comes from an impulse… finding a physical outlet for my constantly revolving thoughts. (Tiitsar 2001: 8). (fig 4.16)
Tiitsar is one of five members of a forward thinking group of Estonian jewellers named f.f.f.f. which includes, Kristi Paap, Kaire Rannik, Betit Teeaar, and Maria Valdma.
The members of f.f.f.f. can be regarded as a group…who have advanced the concept of jewellery…introducing new ideas and materials. Breaking away from the ordinary addressee, the wearer, they prefer to work with materials and the message. (Lobjakas 2001: 1).
Kertu Tuberg’s work is highly charged, figurative story telling. (fig 4.17) In Scream we can but surmise the context of the narrative, the storyline, and this adds a subversive undertone to our response. Constructed from a fragile and vulnerable material, synthetic wax, Tuberg’s jewellery is emotionally complex, ‘Kertu’s work explains the entire universe, showing a cross-section of the human race. Mathematics and poetry meet up at the start of the work.’ (Malk & Veenre 2004: 98).
As with Tuberg, when confronted by the brooches of Juhani Heikkilä there is the sensation of a dark underlying sub-text which the viewer is drawn in to. In Daddy is Stupid the carefully sculpted portrait reliefs allude to a narrative based on reflection, isolation and relationships. (fig 4.18) With resonance of a Cindy Sherman still photograph (Untitled series: 1979/80), one is observing a freeze-frame of a much bigger picture. Of his own output Heikkilä says,
Like any artist … a maker of autonomous jewellery is ensnared by his person demons. He works in his own studio driven by his own creative urge, without much interest in the user of his works, concerned mainly with the intellectual and emotional process involved. (Heikkila: 2001: 54).
In other works for M-W-V, miniature figurative sculptures portray small human nudes with animal heads; a horse and a pig.
The nude is a classical subject in the pictorial arts. But by introducing such a motif in the jewellery context he (Heikkila) also raises a number of issues about the relationship between jewellery and pictorial art, between miniature figures and monumental sculptures. By taking such a conceptual approach Juhani Heikkila represents a very important trend in contemporary jewellery, which in his case is articulated using a figurative and narrative form of expression. (Veiteberg 2001: 22).
Tuija Helena Markonsalo’s exuberant gendered objects, such as Hands, are intended as a provocative personal comment on our philosophy of, and how we engage with, life.
Complicated is better than simple. Chaos is better than order. Noise is better than silence. Excited is better than expressionless. Big is better than small. Heavy is better than light. Polychrome is better than monochrome. Emphasised is better than balanced. Abundance is better than lack. Offensive is better than neutral. (Markonsalo: 2001: 66). (fig 4.19)
Catherine Abrial’s narrative has a naive aesthetic that reflects her recollection of childhood memories, of relationships, of a secret world containing hidden treasures. (fig 4.20) In the group of pieces Secret Dolls each knitted object contains a small cleansing bar of soap.
The silent scream of Senseless, Blind Man by Frédéric Braham is almost painful for the viewer to comprehend. The skilful repousse work is perfectly scaled, like a Ron Mueck sculpture, and painted with a skin colour tint, its impact communicates directly to the audience. (fig 4.21) And yet, what is the figure trying to communicate? There is a strong socio/political comment, and the challenge of identity. ‘Where is the boundary between meaning and the lack of meaning. The lack of meaning gives a piece of jewellery palpable substance, almost its body.’ (Malk 2001: 189).
Malk describes the work of Christophe Burger as ‘Tender, diffusing images, difficult to perceive.’ (Malk 2001: 192 ) The subtle and simple construction of Burger’s Pendant X series belie his powerful personal commentary on gender. When light is transmitted through the frosted plastic or glass, the gendered code is revealed, otherwise it is hidden from public view against the skin or clothing. (fig 4.22)
Faust Cardinali frequently alters the scale of his output from the wearable object to the monumental, art installation. Untitled (Ora professional) 2002-3 is a group of large brooches which cross the boundaries between consumerism, identity, subversion and sexuality. (fig 4.23)
Desire never stems from a lack; desire is pure excess. Desire, at least in the work of Faust Cardinali, is the utter overabundance of life – of life desiring itself in all its potency and all its fecundity. Since Duchamp, it has been acknowledged that the work’s author is not its maker; the work is the product of an encounter between an artist and an object. (Wright 2002: 41).
One may respond to the polemic of Sophie Hanagarth’s work in terms of political statement and subversive metaphor, these are powerful objects. ‘Sophie Hanagarth unceasingly explores the paradoxes of material…in order to create soft yet violent body adornments, undulating and uncertain.’ (Paquet 2002: 4). (fig 4.24)For Hanagarth however, these are metaphors for popular culture and for sexual identity, ‘What is the subject of Sophie Hanagarth’s discourse? An objection, an eroticization of the body and its control through social, religious, political and cultural structuring.’ (Braham 2002: 3).
Much of Patricia Lemaire’s work has the aesthetic of the talisman, of the ritualistic religious artefact, as though there may be a ceremonial significance or use for the objects in the Babel series. (fig 4.25) The inclusion of bone, presumed to be animal, adds another dimension for the viewer, as Lemaire describes it, ‘Traces of life’ (Cunningham 2005: 18), here the provenance is called into question, with the process of stripping and cleaning.
Bone similarly features in the work of Monique Monoha, but unlike Lemaire, is not central to the dialogue. Bones and Grass represents a group of pieces celebrating childhood, the sentiment of love and hate, laughter and tears. It is a fragile time for Monoha and the objects are an instrument of remembrance. (fig 4.26)
David Bielander’s work is characterised by humour, sensuality and his unorthodox use of materials. (fig 4.27)PearlSnail is typical of his playfulness and central to this is the wearer, ‘…jewellery doesn’t allow a distancing of the “wearer” from the work. You have to love a piece of jewellery, to wear it.’ (Schetelich 2003: 5).
On one level there are parallels between the work of Spanish jeweller Ramon Puig Cuyas and the Australian jeweller Helen Britton. They each use the vehicle of the small wearable object to speak of vast physical and geographical environments. It is a matter of scale as opposed to size. To view a group of Britton’s constructed brooches also brings to mind the installation by Martin Kippenberger, The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika’ where, in a relatively small space Kippenberger presents a vast landscape. ‘Paradoxically the miniaturisation of Helen Britton’s jewellery also signals the enormity of the universe. For her works are not simply small, they are exquisitely scaled.’ (Ewington 2004: 2). Britton has, for some years, lived in Munich, Germany. (fig 4.28a and fig 4.28b) The influence of place, the build environment in stark contrast to the natural environment she grew up in, informs the narrative.
I live in a big city in central Europe and there are lots of building sites. This brings me great pleasure – watching the excavations, deliveries of materials and construction processes on my routine travels through the city. This pleasure in structures, in the collection and selection of materials…forms the basis of my practice. I come from a land where the natural often looks artificial and I now live in an environment that has been artificially constructed for so long that it seems natural. There is no doubt that my original environment is embossed deeply into my consciousness, and that this condition makes exclusive claims on the way I choose my materials and develop the elements within the work. (Britton 2004: 5).
The figurative jewellery of Dieter Dill is metaphor for the relationship between people, society and politics. (fig 4.29) The figures live in a miniature world, travel on fantastical craft (The Ship of Fools) and interact within given situations. ‘People are “herd animals”, move in groups, move and are moved in various directions. How are we able to resist these external manipulations that are imposed on us by advertising, socio-political situations, individual demands, etc?’ (Cunningham 2005: 22).
Kathleen Fink’s current jewellery has a dark, mythical story telling quality, based on the ancient philosophers. As with Augen, it is explicitly depicted yet difficult to access on the maker’s terms, without engaging with her subject matter. This raises the issue discussed in Chapter 1 regarding the viewer’s frame of reference, the ‘viewing methodology’. (fig 4.30)
Karl Fritsch places his narrative within the category of personal comment by confronting social culture. These are difficult works to position as they thumb their nose at conventional making and challenge the viewer’s perception of what constitutes preciousness. (fig 4.31)
Karl Fritsch, his dark-hued coquetry, refined sincerity-game – I’m not sure it’s like pissing in the bed of the petty bourgeoisie, but it certainly exudes a flavour of provocation. Never seen anyone set rubies with quite such a casual wagging of the tail. (Malk 2001: 192)
Rubyring no.418 is an example of his confident brinkmanship. ‘Karl Fritsch creates jewellery which reflects on the role and meaning of jewellery in people’s lives. This jewellery meta-language focuses on the debate about why we wear jewellery at all.’ (Game & Goring: 1998: 56).
Paste di Mandoria is a visual pun which references the reflective quality of Susan Pietzsch’s concern with sugar and its place in our society. Materials such as porcelain are manipulated in order to simulate confectionery. (fig 4.32) They present more questions than answers: should we feel bad or good about sugar? Should we regard sugar as indulgent? Do we need sugar in our lives or is this obsession metaphor for something far more important?
Born in Poland, Dorothea Prühl has for many years lived in Germany. Evocative of some ancient ceremonial ritual, the relationship between materials, such as wood, steel, titanium, gold, and the repetition of simple two dimensional shapes and forms are very much at the heart of Dorothea Prühl’s repertoire. ‘The physical hardness of this industrial material (titanium) appears transformed, by the artist’s hand, into a sensuous and expressive jewellery material.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 12). Her large scale neck-pieces, such as Moon, may be perceived as powerful talisman. (fig 4.33)
With Dorothea Prühl’s work, one suddenly has the feeling of being caught up in the matrix of original meaning. The simplicity of form suggests secrecy and power at the same time, the size – pushed to the limits of the feasible – becomes a token of majesty, while the rhythmic sequence works like a magical force. (Keisch 2004: 34).
Bettina Speckner’s work transcends a straight forward pictorial realism and the connections made between the images and our own lives. (fig 4.34) The images of people or place have little or no personal meaning for Speckner, rather, she invites the viewer to translate these images into something meaningful for themselves. ‘The photos are findings or snapshots, they have no artistic message of their own.’ (Cunningham 2005: 27). The reverse of each piece is also a significant part of the whole. Often gem set, only the wearer may enjoy this aspect. ‘Bettina Speckner is another flawless master of the sentiment. Nostalgia continues on the other side of jewellery as well where the material viewer may not have a glance.’ (Malk 2001: 188).
Physically and metaphorically Andrea Wipperman creates pieces which are fragile, yet speak of monumental urban structures in a state of decay and disintegration. As a counterpoint to this small animals, as in Pigs in the Town, are positioned amidst the chaos of industrial city life. (fig 4.35)
My items of jewellery need lightness. Minimal thickness, whether cast, beaten or rolled, is important for me, for expression. The cast brooches and pendants sketch city life. Animals have come into the urban landscapes: the dog in front of the house is vigilant and loyal to people; unnoticed…reclaim industrial wasteland. Where is the dividing line between beautiful and ugly, what is desirable and what is useless? (Wipperman 2003: 11).
In her piece Grass Ring, Gyöngyvér Gaàl appears to express a concern or interest in nature. It is however the juxtaposition of materials, the relationship between the man-made against the natural, which provokes her sense of the absurd – the plastic made to look like grass, and the coral carved to look like a rose. (fig 4.36)
Conversely, Katalin Jermakov incorporates objects form the natural world in order to question our values and highlight the importance of the environment in today’s society. (fig 4.37) ‘What could be precious in OUR world? A piece of NATURE…?’ (Cunningham 2005: 30).
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Alan Ardiff’s jewellery occupies a world of perfectly scaled miniature objects. These depictions of banal domestic appliances, such as washing machines, Hoovers and toasters, are not about consumerism, but used metaphorically as an unlikely expression of love.(fig 4.38) Of Domestic Goddess, Ardiff says, ‘Domestic appliances are dull rituals in our daily lives, they are what we share with our loved ones, but rarely perceived as symbols of love.’ (Cunningham 2005: 31).
Alan Ardiff builds pictures in metal, …figurative scenes from domestic life are as likely to dominate. The effect is humorous and fun but there is also the aptness of a domestic image for a jewel, which has, in part, a very domestic, very private life. (Game & Goring 1998: 50).
Alan Ardiff builds pictures in metal, …figurative scenes from domestic life are as likely to dominate. The effect is humorous and fun but there is also the aptness of a domestic image for a jewel, which has, in part, a very domestic, very private life. (Game & Goring 1998: 50).
Manfred Bischoff is of German birth, although living for some time in Italy where he has been influenced by the art of the Renaissance. Bischoff is reluctant to talk of the poetic content to his works, but for his series based around the art of Piero della Francesca he stated, ‘Yes the creative process is about preparation…you must have all information for all things. You must research all intellectual things. So you must search for what material you need, and then all you can do is wait.’ (Bischoff 2002: 10). His brooches are figurative yet quite abstract and ambiguous in their form. For example the title of the brooch Bachelor does not assist in our understanding of the small rabbit or animal form we are presented with. (fig 4.39) ‘The topic of brooches of Manfred Bischoff and the selection of materials created a perception of the absurd and the flesh of ironic undertone, which is extremely hard to describe.’ (Kodres 2002: 170). What one is certain of is that these works are charged with depth beyond any superficial imagery.
The art of Manfred Bischoff is both surprising and mesmerising. His exquisite objects are encased in a sense of isolation and psychological uncertainty. Though tiny, they are charged with intellectual complexity, and indeed with monumentality. (Cavalchini 2002: 8).
In Tower of Babel Stefano Marchetti references culture through an aesthetic simplicity and material complexity, ‘Materials, metals in particular, with their potential to hold and transmit meaning, occupy the centre of my research.’ (Cunningham: 2005 p33). (fig 4.40) These fragile brooches are, similar to Cavalchini’s description of Bischoff’s work, monumental in their content rather than their size. ‘Marchetti create(s) surface patterns which are strikingly effective at a distance, and have the exquisite detail of the miniature when viewed closely.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 39).
Barbara Paganin continues her familiar thematic based on marine life and the natural world. Mixed metals and gem stones are selected for their literal relevance, such as pearls, in addition to the effect achieved through the translucent light refractive quality of Venetian glass and diamonds. (fig 4.41) ‘Paganin’s recent series of brooches…are inspired by the underwater world of coral reefs.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 63).
There is a tension, almost tangible, in the jewellery of Solveiga and Alfredas Krivicius. There exists a strong sense of passion in these objects, whether it is through the use of domestic imagery or alluding to relationships, as in Fuck Off. (fig 4.42) They assert a certain identity, a position, command authority.
This piece rests within the genre of sentimental jewellery, but delivered with irony. Discussed in Chapter 1 as a religious artefact (the sacred heart), the use of the heart in this context has a long tradition dating from the ‘caul’ heart charms of the Sixteenth Century, celebrating the birth of a child, to current lockets and charms given as love tokens. The Norwegian jeweller Nanna Melland has taken this to its ultimate conclusion. In a charm bracelet titled Heart Charm she replaces the symbol of a heart with an actual organ. Incorporating the heart of a pig, which closely resembles a human heart, ‘Melland dramatically alters the function of the bracelet and forces her viewer to confront the true meaning behind the symbol.’ (Astfalck, Broadhead & Derrez 2005: 72).
Felieke van der Leest generates playful and amusing pieces that often deconstruct from larger objects and re-assemble into wearable jewellery. They represent many things when viewed from different points of view; the toy, the childhood memory, a celebration of the natural and animal world, and make cultural reference as in Hare O’Harix and his 6 Carrots. ‘When I’m abroad I prefer to go to zoos and aquaria. The ideas pop up everywhere; I do not study anything, just having them in my head. Then I start making the piece, most of the time things change and get their own life…and walk away…’ (Leest 2002: 14). (fig 4.43)
‘…I realise that I have seldom seen a more coherent or more personal oeuvre than that of Ruudt Peters. But it is also an oeuvre that, despite its autobiographical sides, is universal, yes, almost inviolable.’ (Hout 2002: 13). In his Pneuma series one is intrigued by these small translucent male/female embryos, somewhat androgynous, which are gendered through the metaphoric use of gold and silver instruments.
These are engendered twins, created by multiple dipping into casting resin. This sheltered open space inside is then only accessible through the entrances – graceful tools of silver and gold. Silver symbolises the moon – the female power whilst gold – a solar symbol has a masculine connotation. (Peters 2002: 17). (fig 4.44)
Given the obscure and ambiguous nature of his titles, Ouroboros, Iosis, Azoth, one feels a certain challenge, that effort is required on the part of the viewer, if one is to extrapolate meaning. ‘Annoyance and admiration battle for priority as I try to understand the work of Ruudt Peters: annoyance at the weighty erudition that one suspects is behind the titles and explanations, admiration for the vitality and singularity of his work.’ (Besten 2002: 163).
‘I already know that, fascinated by its extreme stillness, she is newly inspired by the Japanese culture. Truike prefers brooches: a brooch draws the attention and asks for positioning, the pinning as a ritual.’ (Duyn 1999: 1). This describes the current work of Truike Verdegaal, Owata exemplifying her particular interest in pictorial realism and story telling. (fig 4.45) As with any portraiture, when the figure is unknown to them, the wearer must engage in this process of re-interpretation, to take the piece forward with their own meaning. ‘A portrait can jog the memory, excite curiosity and – even if the figure in question is totally unknown – intrigue its viewer.’ (Boot 2003: 1).
Through her use of commercial packaging Hilde Dramstad makes cultural references, confronting us with consumerism and issues concerning the environment. ‘The graphic aspect of my work has become fairly apparent. It is natural for me to make my jewellery less pompous and perhaps more communicative by using images and banal objects from everyday life.’ (Dramstad 2001: 70). The ready-made materials incorporated, as in Community, could perhaps be dismissed as simplistic, but are of paramount importance to both the aesthetic and philosophical dialogue stimulated by the work. (fig 4.46) ‘Everyday experience is not only a source of subject matter but also of materials. Like the rest of her jewellery it spans the whole spectrum between the trivial and the sublime, the mass produced and the unique, the commercial and art.’ (Veiteberg 2001: 22).
In reference to his intriguing group of brooches Two Rooms and a Kitchen, Konrad Mehus stated, ‘The apartment consisted of two small rooms and large furniture. The modernistic clean.’ (Mehus 2003: 50) These claustrophobic yet amusing works are a reflective personal statement on his childhood and make specific cultural references, as in the brooch Restroom with King Haakon VII. (fig 4.47) As a speaker at the M-W-V Symposium, Mehus expressed, ‘For me it’s always important to be aware of my cultural identity. Diversity in culture is important.’ ‘I use the experience of everyday life as a resource for my expression.’ (Mehus 2005: MWV).
The narrative of Louise Nippierd’s output is wide ranging and eclectic. ‘All the themes I chose are about acceptance, whether it be society’s acceptance or tolerance of a group or individuals’ acceptance of themselves.’ (Nippierd 2001: 78). There is a sub-text of socio-political comment underlying the visual punch of her ready-mades, Turn on – Turn off being a useful example. In positioning these rings within her experience of relationships, the photographic image plays an important role here. (fig 4.48) The passive right hand with ‘hot’ conveys Turn on, and the assertive, muscle flexing left arm with ‘cold’ as a Turn off. ‘Louise Nippierd is forceful…in her criticism of the state of the world. Her jewellery must be taken as utterances.’ (Veiteberg: 2001: 23).
Slawomir Fijalkowski states that her jewellery is firmly rooted in the category of social comment. Her work incorporates ready-mades and found objects, often with little intervention by the maker, simply re-contextualising these objects through subversion, as in Euro-earrings. (fig 4.49) That said the final interpretation is left to the viewer and wearer, ‘The essence of my work is the contextual aspect. This means the necessity to subject my own intentions to the final verification of the addressee every time.’ (Cunningham 2005: 42).
Culture, race and identity are significant factors in the narrative of Sonia Szatkowska’s jewellery. Message from the Road and other talismanic pieces have the feel of the ritualistic artefact, as though constituent parts of a religious ceremony. (fig 4.50) These works are tactile, yet physically aggressive, emphasised through their crude construction and choice of materials.
Jewellery Box by Cristina Filipe is a conceptual piece that is neither wearable nor even identifiable as an item of jewellery. (fig 4.51) It is a metaphor for how we might approach the notion of jewellery, thinking about it rather than wearing it. Filipe looks beyond the obvious, the superficial, in an attempt to ‘…focus on the strata of installation below the surface, on continuity, attention, accuracy and the sensitive conceptualisation that characterises the work of Cristina Filipe.’ (Aknai 2003: 5).
Leonor Hipólito produces curious objects that are quasi wearable and which express a social comment on society and our ability/inability to communicate and articulate our understanding of the world. Objects for Dreamsforms part of a group of ear decorations that allude to being plugged in, as though connected to some other experience, some other environment, accessing our inner thoughts through earphones. (fig 4.52)
Also conceptual is the jewellery of Marilia Maria Mira. Europa invites the viewer to engage with the wearer through the use of text, a relationship is established. The full text of the necklace can only be accessed when not worn, but Mira understands the power of curiosity, making the text based statement of the piece of equal importance to the subversive element of encouraging interaction. (fig 4.53)
Based on a poem written by her, Hana Käsickova’s series of 25 brooches includes Animal Passion, a piece of apparently simple construction, hand painted. (fig 4.54) There is a visual naivety, an almost childlike narrative based on a strong sense of storytelling. These brooches however are for adults and explore relationships, memory and love.
In contrast, the work of Alzbeta Majernikova explores a different relationship, not our relationship to one another, but to technology and consumerism. The small objects in her range DF2 adopt the aesthetic of techno-hybrid, part disposable gadget yet precious receptacles of personal data, indispensable attachments. (fig 4.55)They look useful, able to transmit, be plugged in, perform some micro function.
Karol Weisslechner’s brooches are monumental landscapes on a small scale. They are reflections on his personal world, his personal cosmos, a world of people, erotica, architecture and art. (fig 4.56)
Carmen Amador’s jewellery expresses, through its various components, her inner feelings realised in three-dimensions. (fig 4.57) It is a direct reflection of how she feels at any given time. ‘Sometimes, I have the pleasant sensation that what I’m doing is Magic. As though something that has been cooking inside me, perhaps for days, is there: Materialised!’ (Amador 2002: 8).
The brooches of Ramon Puig Cuyàs are packed with imagery that reflects on his own identity. They tell stories of his empathy for the natural environment, of journeys and great voyages and how he relates to the maritime environment in which he lives, explores and investigates. (fig 4.58) ‘Ramon Puig Cuyas, the Catalan artist, is inspired by traditional myths, particularly those associated with the sea.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 58). These are vivid colourful pieces incorporating found objects, together with drawn and painted surfaces. ‘In my work I often apply metaphors. They are the best way for me to express something without words. It is a metaphor for the artist’s inner search during the process of creation, a voyage of discovery into oneself.’ (Cuyas 2001: 22).
Holidays in Baghdad is a work that represents the challenging nature of Kepa Karmona’s jewellery. (fig 4.59) His pieces are culturally aware and reflect a strong social commentary by juxtaposing readymades objects with politically charged titles. ‘Kepa Karmona, from Bilbao, equates his work to talismans of the urban jungle. Symbols of the consumer society which we live in, representations of our surroundings worn as would an American Indian the symbolic feathers of his culture.’ (O’Hana 2003: 4).
Our culture populates its surroundings with wasted stocks that are drowning us. My pictorial language is one of popular stereotypes. Like the world of marketing, more interested in container than its contents. …my jewels try to create a system of signs that help us, if not to find the harmony, at least to survive in our displacements by the urban forest and to move between the culture of the consumption and the decrease of natural resources. (Karmona 2003: 16).
Judy McCaig is a Scot now living in Barcelona. Through her skilful handling of metal McCaig allows us to enter her world of myth and storytelling, metaphors for her own private journey. (fig 4.60) On Distant Horizonsexemplifies the searching, unsettled nature of the narrative, ‘A voyage of survival through tundra, alluvial plains, desert, sands and wind.’ (Cunningham 2005: 53).
Judy McCaig is inspired by the myths and legends of different cultures. McCaig also carves and paints wooden boxes to contain the brooches, which emphasise the preciousness and fragility. All her work uses images of animals, which are shown on quests or journeys through strange landscapes. The work has the mysterious allegorical quality of ancient legends. (Game & Goring 1998: 59).
The wearable object is not always of paramount importance to Itxaso Mezzacasa. Memory is a far more potent factor and the absence of an object is replaced by an image, or installation, that acts as metaphor for what we imagine or recall, but cannot see. (fig 4.61) ‘Itxaso’s more recent work includes using old jewellery dies to produce new ones containing memories and old traditions which she brings to the present.’ (O’Hana 2003: 4).
Like a magpie, Xavier Ines Monclús acquires the detritus and cast-offs from the culture around him. (fig 4.62) In pieces such as Contemporary Jewellery, he creates playful assemblages that are both amusing and poignant, toys for adults. ‘In Xavier Ines Monclús’ work I found a complex mix of surrealism and play, colourful pieces using cartoon stickers and lollipop sticks.’ (O’Hana 2003: 4).
Xavier Ines Monclús’ jewellery often arises out of iconographical borrowings from his most immediate environment, especially if this can evoke a certain nostalgia. It’s good to imagine the process not so much as a de-contextualisation, rather as a rescuing… (Gaspar 2005: 27).
There is a subversive quality to the brooch Copia by Marco Monzo. When one realises that the rather crudely painted landscape has an 18ct. gold base, this disquieting fact raises questions of, and our response to, notions of preciousness. ‘The quiet statement of Marc Monzo’s work…creates instability by obscuring silver in paint, so depriving the viewer of its precious content. (O’Hana 2003: 4). This is a trademark statement by Monzo, a manipulation of our preconceptions. (fig 4.63)
In order to enrich and intensify our perception of reality in a world that has been over-saturated by impersonal objects, it is essential that we recover our ability to stare in awe and wonder at the seemingly insignificant. Thus we find that his painted brooches have suffered an aggression of some kind. (Gaspar 2003: 24).
Milena Trujillo was born in Colombia and, now living in Spain, thrives on the city environment amongst people and the urban landscape. ‘Born in Bogotá and at home with the crowds of a large city, Milena has spoken of the need to see people in the street at all times, to feel the community around her that creates the energy and stimulates her work.’ (O’Hana 2003: 4). Most importantly, as in Golden Dreams, her jewellery expresses an erotic sensuality, the fertility of the fecund woman. (fig 4.64) ‘The inspiration: everyday corners inhabited by transitory inhabitants. Places where looks, gestures and casual encounters happen; urban zones where unexpected moments can exist.’ (Trujillo 2002: 18).
Silvia Walz creates colourful semi-abstract figurative dialogues derived from a rich poetic narrative. Described by Walz as, ‘Beings and Non-Beings’ the group of brooches titled The Ladies of the Round Table, allude to fragments snatched from bodies, from stories, assembled from memory and reflection. (fig 4.65) These are gendered objects, layered with meaning.
Work for Living or Living for Work is a small fragile pin that epitomises the reflective nature of Gunilla Grahn’s jewellery, ‘When I saw it I actually wanted to protect it, adopt it.’ (Hogg 2005: MWV). The imagery is metaphor for Grahn herself, ‘Gunilla Grahn depicts herself as a snail which is both a home-bird and wants to leave home at one and the same time.’ (Veiteberg 2001: 23).
The issue of scale, as opposed to size, has been previously observed in the work of Cuyas and Britton, and here we see Grahn as vulnerable insect, set to explore the world. (fig 4.66) The actual piece becomes the vehicle through which the maker’s existence is expanded, being exhibited in as many venues as possible. ‘Big becomes small – small becomes big. That is the way into my jewel box. For a while my work has involved reducing scale and working on a small, concentrated surface and, in certain cases, in increasing size.’ (Grahn 2001: 68).
There is a cornucopia of detail contained within the automotive representations of Christer Jonsson. These brooches are a morphing of 1950’s iconic car design with Wurlitzer detailing. In Car Design 1, a collision of colour, materials and technique communicate these cultural references together with miniature classical architecture for good measure. (fig 4.67) ‘Christer Jonsson synthesises personal visions with the irrationality of history.’ (Liivrand 2002: 167).
Andi Gut has generated a group of pieces titled Mimesenwhich, intended to be worn primarily by men, confront issues of sexuality, gender and identity. (fig 4.68) There is also the contradiction of a synthetic material, nylon, worked to take on the aesthetic appearance of natural forms. These growing objects could be the flotsam of the beach, or enlarged micro-organisms.
Memory and reflection are tangible in the work Where Did the Locks Remain? by Brigitte Moser. (fig 4.69) The used, old keys, the dates located during the second world war, and the physical weight of the piece, make this heavy with significance, with hidden treasures, of private personal stories.
Verena Sieber-Fuchs collars and head decorations are assembled from discarded packaging waste. Found objects are loosely disguised and transformed through her expression of colour, pattern and technique into extraordinary precious objects. These are cultural statements and a vehicle, through Sieber-Fuchs’ choice of foil wrapper, to make socio-political statements. (fig 4.70)
By using existing (waste) materials, Verena added the dimension of association and significance to the aesthetic objects. This ranges from the endearing and peaceful (Mickey Mouse, liquorice bears and doves), to the political (apartheid) or even controversial. (Derrez 1987: 1).
Turning Point: Looking at Myself is a series of self portraits by Roger Weber. These amusing comic profiles are a personal reflection on Weber’s own identity, a means by which he makes sense of his life. (fig 4.71)
Jivan Astfalck’s work is multi-layered, weaving stories of literature and fairy tales, through personal metaphors for femininity and mythology. The apparent simplicity of The Crossing underpins the depth of narrative contained within the objects, inviting a more cognitive interaction, as though there were a larger picture to the right and left of the frame. (fig 4.72)
The dynamic relationship that her “body-related objects” have with theory and literature helps to develop the narrative of a piece, however she also sees her objects as mnemonic devices, triggering memories and associations. In this way they open up to the wearer and viewer, inviting their own contribution to be added to the existing layers of references. (Astfalck, Broadhead & Derrez 2005: 135).
Chapter 4 is given to the source, process and practice of the author, Jack Cunningham, where the brooch In The Garden is described in more detail. (fig 4.73)
Eileen Gatt’s jewellery is rooted in the historic storytelling traditions of northern Scotland, particularly coastal, recording and passing on these mythical tales through the made object rather than the oral tradition. (fig 4.74) ‘Eileen Gatt uses animal imagery to explore ancient stories associated with the sea. She is interested in the tension between traditional patterns of life and folklore and the contemporary world.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 60).
From a similar source as Gatt, the work of Hannah Lamb has previously explored the physical coastline of southern England, recording significant topographical variations in the manner of the cartographer. Lamb has refined this sense of place to specific childhood memories and notions of the home, Bobby a clear reference to the peculiarities of British family life; the patterned wallpapers and the keeping of pets, the budgerigar in particular. (fig 4.75)
Relating her early work to Cornwall and the coastal imagery of her childhood, Hannah Louise Lamb has continued to develop a broader language to evoke the familiarity and comfort that we associate with home. Lamb creates a template onto which we can project our personal memories and fantasies of home. (Astfalck, Broadhead & Derrez 2005: 76).
In the tradition of sentimental jewellery or love tokens, Grainne Morton’s brooches also have resonance with the womanly activities of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through her continued inclusion of the button as a central motif, these works are evocative of the sewing circles, of Scandinavian origin, known as sewing bees. (fig 4.76)
In most of my designs I aspire to evoke a feeling of nostalgia. I consciously work in a miniature scale, using a diverse range of materials in order to create attention so that the onlooker has to become more involved in the piece, hopefully sparking memory or thought as well as making them smile. (Morton 2005: 21).
Paul Preston is known by his alter-ego (Red) Mole, and this persona, a mole, appears in much of his work. Having previously been a salvage diver, marine life together with his rural lifestyle, his animals and birds, the environment in which he lives, all have a place in his humorous and fantastical world. By startling a flock of birds, Photographing Crows with new Digital CameraMole shows his curiosity and fascination with new technology. (fig 4.77) ‘Few people who have held one of these pieces in their hand ever forget the experience. It isn’t simply the intricate craftsmanship, it has to do with the fact that something so tiny can express such humour, joy and vitality.’ (Chalmers 2001: 204).
Meanings and Attachments by Mah Rana is a photographic installation that communicates to us the significance of jewellery within society. (fig 4.78) Her work examines the very nature of what jewellery means to each of her voluntary participants and the connections they make between the object and the memory it evokes. It is the participants who make personal comment.
Mah Rana’s oeuvre is concerned first and foremost with the personal and communal significance of jewellery. For Rana, jewellery is a memento of personal history, it can be made of any material as long as its quintessential function is to assist memory. (Astfalck, Broadhead & Derrez 2005: 76).
Geoff Roberts’ extraordinary jewellery expresses something of the maverick through its iconic structure, exuberant use of materials (such as artificial hip joints) and its scale. (fig 4.79) These talismanic jewels are metaphors for life and death and objects such as Chromatic Congress, are rich with a sense of purpose beyond the mere function of body decoration. ‘It is work which celebrates abundance, excess. All the jewellery is like regalia for a forgotten religion, brilliant, exotic and strange, yet when work invests the wearer with symbols of ceremonial power.’ (Game & Goring 1998: 72).
Hans Stofer was born in Switzerland and now lives in the UK. In terms of contemporary studio jewellery, his work is perhaps amongst the most conceptual in this country. Stofer identifies familiar everyday objects and, by manipulating our pre-conceptions, transforms them into objects imbued with meaning and significance. (fig 4.80)‘We are naturally attracted to certain objects. We express and define ourselves through these. But it is also us who give objects meaning.’ (Stofer 2005: 147). Hand on My Heart, a plastic toy, becomes a talisman expressing inner energy, love, peace. ‘The tricks that Stofer pulls off are magical ones, reinventing the world of things to expose their poetic beauty.’ (Sandino 2006: 5).