I LIKE IT. WHAT IS IT?
Cast off what you think you know about jewellery - gold, diamonds and pearls, contemporary jewellery has a much richer vein of ideas and artistry.
From our earliest times, jewellery has been used as symbol to protect against danger, certain stones were thought to help with problems as wide ranging as toothache to the evil eye. As the world industrialised, tools and methods of cutting and creating jewellery changed and by the 18th century the fashion for brilliantly cut stones was firmly established, ‘a magnificent set of diamond jewels were essential for court life…’ notes the Victoria & Albert Museum in their history of jewellery, it’s funny when you think about it - some things don’t change - whether in breeches and ruffs or designer denim and Nike, precious metals and stones, particularly diamonds, are still the ultimate short cut for flashing one’s cash.
Fast forward to the 20th century which brought in a sea change of ideas about jewellery. Surrealist artists like Picasso, Dali and Alexander Calder used it as medium for their work and jewellers challenged conventions by introducing new technologies and non-precious materials, like plastics, paper and textiles; as well as exploring the necessities of function through scale and form. Contemporary jewellery, feeds off all of it, scavenging and re-appropriating at will – exploring the past, present and future.
Here’s a few contemporary jewellers who caught our eye:
Elvira Golombosi's work delves into mysticism, creating objects imbued with magical powers. Pieces carved from natural materials based on symbols that depict her own unique versions of gods, totemic figures, demons and fantastic creatures. Her method she says, ‘is a conscious exploration of unconscious. I enter in a trance-like state to allow intense, personal symbols and obscure imaginary to emerge. I exclude rational processes as much as I can.’
Tua Marika is a Finnish designer. His works ranges from wearable jewellery to the more experimental. His most recent Fragment series is particularly arresting – each piece isolates a part of the body, elbows and shoulders, ears and hand with rigid man-materials, aiming to challenge visual perceptions. He describes it as, ‘what happens in the meeting of different elements: the abstract and the figurative, the minimal and the complex, the organic and the man-made. In search of visual and emotional tensions, I’m exploring the body together with contrasting and interacting elements. Changing the context in which we view aspects of the body to see the alternative emotions that can be perceived, by purely adjusting the conditions.’
There’s a performative component to the way Gala Colivet-Dennison presents her work. The models feel like characters from an 80s arthouse film– staring back at the camera they challenge the photographer’s gaze, confident protagonists in control of their own story. Like the women wearing the jewellery, each piece has a distinct personality. She says of the collection , ‘the pieces celebrate the natural “beautiful awkwardness' of the gemstones – their intricate layers and unique markings. Jewellery conventional wisdom of seeking perfection by demonstrating the marks of their maker.