Beautiful Objects was Aram's first jewellery exhibition. Originally on from Nov 22nd, it was extended for a further two weeks til the 26th Jan which meant I got to catch this exhibition (any free time in the month or so before Christmas just got vacuumed up with extra workshop hours/festive functions). Situated above the Aram store it's also an excuse to window shop the stylish furnishings on the way up to the gallery. I have divided the exhibition into two posts, here's no.1 the designers who I think look at the meaning of objects (the second will focus on materials and processes)!
Each designer was asked to provide an object to be displayed with their work that was connected with their approach, inspiration or making process. To appreciate the work as contemporary maker's pieces they shunned traditional jewellery fixtures and conventional display stands giving the work space and a blank background to be interpreted by the individual.
One of the best explorers of jewellery meaning by turning tradition on it's head is Lin Cheung exhibiting a collection of brooches from 2010 inspired by the quilted "luxurious" packaging found in the world of traditional jewellery.
Her inspirational object was a copy of the Argos catalogue circa S/S '85 from her teenage years relishing the first opportunities to choose and buy precious pieces for herself (from these tiny flat images, it must have taken a lot of imagination). Pre-online shopping meant hand made pieces like Cheung's own work would only be available by visiting individual galleries or events at this time.
"...to encourage the re-valuing of old, broken, odd, unfashionable and unwanted jewellery. This series of brooches are designed with the idea that each can act as a physical barrier between an old piece of jewellery and the wearer. The ‘preventing of intimacy’ between the object (old jewellery) and the wearer is the central concept behind this work with the brooches themselves acting as carriers of old earrings, chains or other brooches. Here I bring into question the constantly evolving meaning of jewellery and find new emotional and literal spaces for old jewellery that seems to have lost its value and potency" Lin Cheung
Her Argos hoard lives on by being carried on her person in other ways as it still has a lot of sentiment. These brooches have pockets and pouches to house small treasures turning the items from wearable jewellery to keepsake. This is the opposite of many contemporary jewellers who turn found objects and personal items into wearable pieces.
Katy Hackney is one such artist, although I think she collects and collates her found objects more through their joint aesthetic rather than because of their sentimental value. Her inspirational object was a set of vintage children's play shapes in beautiful stained wood, which you can see directly reflect in her choice of colour pallete.
Zoe Arnold also has a magpie approach, collecting objects that interest her and combining them with her hand made components using various materials and techniques. She calls these assemblages sculptural collage, influenced by poetry:
"I use the ideas and abstract imagery from the poems to feed into my pieces, and in this way add a depth and meaning to my work." Zoe Arnold
Another of the artists using found objects in Maria Militsi who sources her objects through auctions and includes their printed listings as her inspirational objects.
"By hunting down, researching, classifying and responding to incidental qualities of existing objects this work revolves around the rare and aged or the unusual and worthy of collecting." Maria Militsi
Another fan of internet auctions sites is Laura Potter. "I’m interested in the echoes of time invested in the making of Lifetime medal 280100507863. Initially there was the eBay search for the subject matter, which can be a drawn out process of stalking listings until the right thing comes up. Then there’s the waiting and watching for the countdown to end, followed by more waiting for delivery. Appropriately then you use an equally lengthy process; hand embroidery."
The processes and added materials Potter used to create this piece of work from the ebay purchases were very important:
"I made the piece with care, incorporating some fabrics that belonged to me, and applied the quote using an embroidery technique that has connotations of female family ties, passed on with patience and love. It is true that the labour intensiveness of this process was important. If you are prepared to listen, learning to cross-stitch with your grandmother will teach you much more than how to sew. This is what I mean by equivalence: one person’s lot of scrap gold is another person’s realisation that they are forever in debt to their Nan."
Other artists in the exhibition also found the craft of hand sewing associated with their mother to be strong influences. Hans Stofer adapted the needle to lose it's function and become decorative only whereas Caroline Broadhead combined her mother's necklace, a collaboration with her daughter and bracelet from Mexico with labour intensive hand beading.