Ted Noten, and expanding definitions of ‘Jewellery’.

“Searching for the meaning within the everyday object or image, Noten relinquishes and then redefines significance, infusing each one with a new life and purpose”.
I have been reading a lot about Ted Noten today in the name of dissertation work. I’m particularly taken by his interest in public participation with his work. His best known work is probably ‘Chew Your Own Brooch’, 1998.

Its a brilliant idea! At the Museum Booijmans van Beuningen in 1999 around 800 people, including a lot of children, were presented with chewing gum and asked to ‘chew their own brooch’. Once they were satisfied with what they had chewed, they placed it in a little box, and it was judged by a panel. The first, second and third places were presented with their brooches, made of their chewed gum cast respectively in 24k gold, silver and bronze. I would love to be a part of something like that, I like how it challenges the definitions of jewellery.
Rather than being made by a designer based on inspiration which is personal and dear to them, to be sold on anonymously to a buyer, wearer, owner who will put their own personal story into it, the designer and owner interact in the making. It is personal to both designer and wearer and they correspond in the making so it upholds the ambitions of both through its life span. I dont like the idea of people buying my jewellery without understanding what it is about, but that is inevitably what will happen if I want to sell any at all (!). I’m really enjoying studying the role of the designer/maker and wearer/owner, and what happens when they interact. Maybe this is the key to getting the wider public to appreciate and understand ‘Contemporary Jewellery’. It probably is. Which leads me to Ted’s thoughts on the audience;
“Do you think its odd I want to be overwhelmed by the urgency of jewellery? Isn’t the case nowadays that this urgency must be derived from appealing to a different kind and in particular much wider public than that of museums and galleries?”
Dear dissertation, I think I may finally be getting somewhere.

Helen*

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