Kelvin J Birk
The concept of value has always played an important role in the work of Kelvin J Birk. Questioning what makes different materials precious and valuable, from an early stage in his jewellery-making career Birk has been combing non-valuable and non-precious materials like concrete with silver and gold, investigating the different perceptions of these materials.
Through experimentation Birk explores the intrinsic qualities of the materials, consciously disregarding what is traditionally considered valuable as well as the way the materials are handled. This approach has led him to crushing and pulverising precious gemstones and reworking the resulting new material. Stone fragments are bonded back together or adhered directly onto a metal structure, allowing the nature of the materials to dictate the final form of the pieces.
Birk says of his work: ‘The ultimate question is: does the value of the item decrease? Is the broken stone still a stone? Have I enhanced the value by working on it? By consciously destroying valuable materials and then using this altered material, I give them a new value. I am creating something different and hopefully beautiful. The value has been shifted or transferred from the commodity value to an artistic value.’