Hows that for a long title?!
I’m getting to the stage now where my dissertation work is really starting to influence my studio work, which is a good thing, I think. My reading and analysing it has made me actively realise that concept is the one thing that will make jewellery reach its full potential. The word ‘craft’ is one I dislike, it belittles what conceptual jewellery designers do. It is a word that has began to be associated with hobbies. Gijs Bakker, co-founder of Chi Ha Paura…? freely admits he does not have a great respect for craft.
“Actually I don’t care much about the fact of craft or design or whatsoever because I’m a fortunate person born in the Netherlands and we don’t have this very strong tradition of craft. The interesting thing is if you know the Dutch word for design or designing, it is ‘vormgeven’, creating form and giving, creating with content.”
— Gijs Bakker
Jewellery’s potential is huge. It is a social medium, an art form which has the advantage of a moving, public framing device, the body. It can be accessible to all people, worn by all ages, and seen by literally anyone. That is the beauty of it. What frustrates me is ‘art’ jewellery, ‘contemporary’ jewellery, ‘conceptual’ jewellery, call it what you will, is not yet recognised by everyone for this potential. It is lumped with the words craft, artisan and handmade. Yes of course this work is handmade, it incorporates craft and loosely speaking is made by an artisan, but the key word should be concept. Concept is where the idea stems from, concept is what is put across in a piece, and concept is what makes a piece truly designed from start to finish, unique in a way threading beads on a string will never be. A piece can only go so far if it is designed from materials alone.
It is a shame conceptual jewellery is misunderstood.
Some food for thought.
I read this today in the final part of my dissertation reading. An essay by a Finnish lady called Liesbeth den Besten caught my eye, and I loved reading the whole thing.
She tells of a jewellery designer, Robert Smit. He made a ring for a lady, the wife of an acquaintance of his. He spent a long time on the ring, and when the lady received it, she was very happy. She wore it every day for ten years. In the tenth year she went to a concert. She was very moved by the music, and after the concert she met Duke Ellington. She was so overwhelmed that on impulse she gave him the ring. Smit was disappointed. He couldn’t believe that all the hours he had spent making the ring for the lady were wasted by her just handing it to Duke Ellington. Seven years later though, Duke Ellington died. A picture of him lying in his coffin was printed in the newspaper, and to Smit’s utter amazement, he was wearing the ring.
The ring had three owners, each of whom cared equally, but in different ways about it. As a jewellery designer (in training, I should say…), this story made me love what I do even more. I hope it made you smile.
This is just a quick one, I’m having a really busy couple of weeks!
With regards to my ideas about history being left alone and untouched, I had a think to see what untouched history we have in Dundee. I came up with the remains of the Tay Bridge Disaster (a bit gloomy, but its there!)
Here is a photo taken straight after the disaster:
And here is the bridge today:
The stumps are still left from 1879. And I love the way they have been left there, to decay and texture with the tide. I feel a sketching session coming on, I just need to find the time to do it!
Its a big deal in my work. I love that jewellery allows us to express texture, its so tactile and has the all important 3-D element. I noticed yesterday when I was on the glass torch that I have to leave raised bits and texture on the surface of a bead before I am happy with it and want to work with it further! The little jaggy lines in my drawings represent texture too, and my favourite photos are always those with a contrast between something rough and smooth.
Here is what I mean.
A flower from the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh:
An image from the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona:
Some beads I made a couple of months ago:
Tactile, tactile and more tactile.