Beautiful Objects

beautiful objects aram sign.jpg

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)!

aram beautiful objects.jpg

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.

A trio of Cheung's brooches

A trio of Cheung's brooches

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

Wear Again, Again, 2010 Nylon flocked acrylic and brass, faux leather, stainless steel Lin Cheung Inspirational Object: Argos Catalogue, Spring & Summer 1985

Wear Again, Again, 2010 Nylon flocked acrylic and brass, faux leather, stainless steel Lin Cheung

Inspirational Object: Argos Catalogue, Spring & Summer 1985

close up of a brooch fastening Using fine jewellery skills, like a clean perfect pin is even more important when using an unconventional material to demonstrate attention to detail for a quality object.

close up of a brooch fastening

Using fine jewellery skills, like a clean perfect pin is even more important when using an unconventional material to demonstrate attention to detail for a quality object.

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.

Brooch, 2012 Plywood, silver, coloucore, boxwood, steel, hand dyed nylon cord Katy Hackney

Brooch, 2012 Plywood, silver, coloucore, boxwood, steel, hand dyed nylon cord

Katy Hackney

Necklace, 2011 Silver, rosewood, box wood, bamboo, formica, found ceramic  objects, 18ct gold, vitreous enamel,  bone, colourcore, hand dyed nylon cord, paint Katy Hackney

Necklace, 2011

Silver, rosewood, box wood, bamboo, formica, found ceramic  objects, 18ct gold, vitreous enamel,  bone, colourcore, hand dyed nylon cord, paint

Katy Hackney

Inspirational Objects: Box of vintage Abbatt play shapes Katy Hackney

Inspirational Objects: Box of vintage Abbatt play shapes

Katy Hackney

Inspiration for Katy Hackney

Inspiration for Katy Hackney

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

Opinion No.1, 2010 Antique wooden frame, antique prints, pearls, red thread, oxidised silver Zoe Arnold

Opinion No.1, 2010 Antique wooden frame, antique prints, pearls, red thread, oxidised silver Zoe Arnold

Emotions Brooch Green, 2009 Oxidised silver, 18ct gold, picture Jasper, diamonds, antique marble cameo, mother of pearl, dyed agate, steel pin Zoe Arnold

Emotions Brooch Green, 2009 Oxidised silver, 18ct gold, picture Jasper, diamonds, antique marble cameo, mother of pearl, dyed agate, steel pin 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

Pin Holders, 2009 Antique pin cushions, gold Maria Militsi 

Pin Holders, 2009 Antique pin cushions, gold Maria Militsi 

Printed listings from the auction sites where Maria Militsi sources her objects

Printed listings from the auction sites where Maria Militsi sources her objects

Maria Militsi drawing of cross used for 57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild

Maria Militsi drawing of cross used for 57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild

57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild, 2012 Altar Cross/ Circa 1910, silver Maria Militsi

57 Edward Spencer for the Artificers Guild, 2012 Altar Cross/ Circa 1910, silver 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."

Laura Potter's accompanying object: "Cash-for-gold" envelope "It is an object designed to obliterate the emotional content of an object by pointing directly to its physical substance."

Laura Potter's accompanying object: "Cash-for-gold" envelope "It is an object designed to obliterate the emotional content of an object by pointing directly to its physical substance."

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."

Lifetime Medal 280100507863, 2007 Gold, linen, cotton Laura Potter "In these lots of second hand jewellery I was looking for private sellers who were advertising old family pieces, and especially those who gave an insight into the emotional status of the items for sale. The embroidered quote is taken directly from the eBay listing: it contains no punctuation, no capitalisation and ‘jewellery’ is incorrectly spelled."

Lifetime Medal 280100507863, 2007 Gold, linen, cotton Laura Potter

"In these lots of second hand jewellery I was looking for private sellers who were advertising old family pieces, and especially those who gave an insight into the emotional status of the items for sale. The embroidered quote is taken directly from the eBay listing: it contains no punctuation, no capitalisation and ‘jewellery’ is incorrectly spelled."

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. 

Hand Tinted Portrait (Applied) Hans Stofer When asked what actvities accompanied the making of this piece:  "Thinking about my mother, her habits and her practical intelligence."

Hand Tinted Portrait (Applied) Hans Stofer

When asked what actvities accompanied the making of this piece: 

"Thinking about my mother, her habits and her practical intelligence."

Hans Stofer: "By changing the eye of the needle into a heart you change its original purpose as a functional sewing implement. The sewing needle simply becomes a pin with a heart, a narrative object that still has the ability to pierce  cloth and therefore can be worn. I was less interested in the notion of ‘piercing the heart’ than wearing something close to the heart - the notion of emotional connection through an action." Pin Cushion, 2006 - 12 Ceramic, stainless steel pins, thread, rubber, silicon

Hans Stofer: "By changing the eye of the needle into a heart you change its original purpose as a functional sewing implement. The sewing needle simply becomes a pin with a heart, a narrative object that still has the ability to pierce 

cloth and therefore can be worn. I was less interested in the notion of ‘piercing the heart’ than wearing something close to the heart - the notion of emotional connection through an action."

Pin Cushion, 2006 - 12 Ceramic, stainless steel pins, thread, rubber, silicon

Wearing my Mother’s Pearls, 2012 Glass beads, pearls Inspirational Objects: Pearls in Box, Mexican Beaded Bracelet "My mother was given a string of pearls by her father, following her graduation in 1940s. The photograph on which this bracelet it based was taken at the time."   Caroline Broadhead

Wearing my Mother’s Pearls, 2012 Glass beads, pearls

Inspirational Objects: Pearls in Box, Mexican Beaded Bracelet

"My mother was given a string of pearls by her father, following her graduation in 1940s. The photograph on which this bracelet it based was taken at the time."  

Caroline Broadhead