The blossoming of the Floral in Contemporary Jewellery
27 April – 3 June 2017
Since the first human tucked a flower in their hair, blooms have been a part of human adornment. Each epoch saw new interpretations of the floral in jewellery. The Romans had their ivy circlets, the Tudors long necklaces of clusters of tiny blossoms, the Victorians their detailed panoply of symbolic blooms, Art Nouveau its sinuous floral forms and twentieth-century costume pieces sprays of foliage and flowers. Despite this, the contemporary studio jewellery movement for many years rejected the prettification of jewellery and, as a result, the flower form in contemporary jewellery withered.
All of this is set to change with ‘Bloomin’ Jewels’, a new selling exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts in Bankside, which sows the seeds for a regrowth of the floral motif. This special exhibition spotlights cutting-edge, imaginative and technically accomplished modern work whilst celebrating the long and esteemed tradition of depicting flowers and foliage in jewellery. Over 20 respected contemporary jewellers have been invited to offer work using the botanical as a starting point for the creation of jewellery. The results will surprise and dazzle anyone interested in contemporary jewellery, decorative arts, fashion, design and gardening.
For ‘Bloomin’ Jewels’, the makers have employed varied materials and methods and, as a result, none of the works on show are ‘traditional’ in the usual sense. Although some makers have employed historical methods, working precious metals and gems, others have developed new processes using the latest technologies and non-precious materials such as resin and 3D-printed nylon. Their designs encompass the use of floral motifs and symbols, the incorporation of real flowers, whilst others simply take the floral as a starting point for a different aesthetic. The show will provide an unparalleled floral bouquet of stunning pieces.
As guest curator Corinne Julius notes “We have selected jewellers across the gamut of contemporary making. The results are not what most people will think of as ‘pretty flower pieces’. They are unexpected and in some cases quite challenging, but then contemporary jewellery is wearable art. As far as we are aware, there has not been an exhibition on botanical motifs in contemporary jewellery in the UK.”
“Makers have had the opportunity of handling historical works,” says Corinne Julius “and I am really thrilled to see their see new versions of the Victorian en tremblant; jewellery that moves in response to the wearer’s body. They were a way for Victorian womanhood to express their feelings without words as they trembled and shimmered in line with the wearer’s emotions. It was and remains a very interactive form of jewellery.” The show will also include a small loan display of historical floral pieces.
‘Bloomin’ Jewels’ has been scheduled to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show 2017 and will be part of the Chelsea Fringe (20 May-4 June). The latter initiative celebrates the capital’s diverse gardens, green spaces, botanical and horticultural achievements, with a special focus on the experimental. The exhibition is CAA’s main event for London Craft Week.
Jewellers exhibiting include Zoe Arnold, Flora Battachary, Kelvin J Birk, Jonathan Boyd, Donna Brennan, Sonia Cheadle, Gill Galloway-Whitehead Anna Gordon, Dorothy Hogg, Andrew Lamb, Kathie Murphy, Lina Peterson, Wendy Ramshaw, Kayo Sato, Hans Stofer, Rie Taniguchi, Christopher Thompson Royds, Maud Traon, Silvia Weidenbach and Rebecca Wilkes.
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