Saturday, April 13, 2013

A-Z of Me: A is for Art Jewellery

I've been scratching my head trying to think of ways to make this blog more than just outfits and then I saw that the lovely Becky of Becky Bedbug had just finished an A-Z series where she wrote about something she loved or related to her beginning with every letter of the alphabet.

So I e-mailed her to ask if I could nab the idea and she said of course! So here is my first instalment.

A is for Art Jewellery

Since starting my jewellery design course at college, I've become a massive geek about art jewellery and wearable art. I would describe this type of jewellery as conceptual jewellery, often made of odd or non-metal materials, though this isn't always the case, but I think that there is always a narrative to follow.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces:

Ted Noten's Chew Your Own Brooch

Ted Noten created a project in the late 90s in which included a kit sent to the buyer, which would include a single stick of chewing gum. You chew your gum, send it back to Noten and get it cast in gold or silver, which are often described as "a small sculpture fashioned by your mouth."

As it says at this video of the project, "Noten has given the chewer a creative influence on the end product and the anxiety of being an artist for a few minutes, tapping into the creative child within us and poking fun at our silliness."

Rowena Golton's Ode To My Unborn Sibling
Rowena Golton is actually my tutor and I was lucky enough to see this piece in class, while Ted Noten's piece was irreverent, this piece is more spiritual and melancholy. This piece was made as part of a challenge where each participating member of Manchester's Jewellers Network was given the same 11mm ring to be incorporated into a piece of jewellery of their choice. As you can see in the first image Rowena used the ring in the lid of her box, which houses a brooch, the third of the four layers in the above picture.

I think Rowena herself describes this piece best here on her website. 

"This piece of work is dedicated to my unborn sibling. Although we never knew each other I have always yearned for their company and wondered what sort of person they would have become. Despite this I give thanks for their short life. Wombs are sacred spaces and exist as a ring of love and protection around the unborn child. No matter how long we are carried for in that sacred world we are surrounded by love and life … and surely that is something to be celebrated.

The box represents that “secret place.” Inside its womb is a brooch that represents my family tree. The irregular shaped fire agate tree represents my unborn sibling and can be spied through the hole in the closed box as an embryo attached by an umbilical cord to the walls of the womb. The original ring forms the hole in the lid of the box."

Doug Bucci's Trans-Hematopoietic Neckpiece 

I saw this piece at an exhibition in London called "Unexpected Pleasures", the creator Doug Bucci is a diabetic and the necklace reflects the patterns of blood sugar in his body.

"The literal definition of Diabetes Mellitus is “siphon honey”, which inspired me to use the hexagonal “honeycomb” to represent a cell shape, a pure and mathematically sound structure for generating form. The honeycomb cells were manipulated via Computer Aided Design (CAD) to generate more complex structures. This transformation of microscopic cellular structure into tangible form has evolved into the Islet Series, which integrates real biologically inspired data into jewelry form via CAD."

Not only does this piece have a narrative, but it is an example of the digital approach to creating jewellery. This entire necklace was 3D printed in resin. The innovative new ways in which people can rapid prototype and create amazes me, there is a lot of debate in the air about these new methods and whether they will replace hand made items. I don't think they'll ever entirely replace hand made jewellery, but I do think they're an interesting addition to the jeweller's process.

Wendy Ramshaw Picasso's Ladies

 Wendy Ramshaw has an on going series of rings based on the painting of Picasso, specifically of his wives, mistresses and female friends. She creates not just rings based upon these paintings, but the stands that they are displayed on, making them not just beautiful pieces of jewellery, but when displayed art in their own right.

I wish so hard that I had Wendy's book on this subject, but it ridiculously expensive on amazon and I'm on a waiting list for it in college. Its strangely hard to find anything on line about these rings unfortunately, but I do find them incredibly inspiring.

Shari Pierce's 34 Sexual Offenders and 2 Sexual Predators in a 5 Mile Radius 

 I think that this offering from Shari Pierce shows that art jewellery can have a political, even confrontational, bent to them. Shari's piece of photographs printed on to silk claims to show every convicted rapist and sex offender in a five mile radius of her workshop at the time of making in 2011.

I think the range of pieces in the post do show the wide variety of art jewellery, how it can be a million different things, from provocative to spiritual, full of joy or with a hidden secret story that only the maker may know.

I hope you enjoyed this little look into my little jewellery obsessed world!  

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