Contrasting textures and tones are something I have been interested in over the last few projects. The research I have done on modern Africa has led me back on that path once more. In the above images (taken from the amazing photography book of Leni Riefenstahl’s photography by Taschen) we see the beautiful painted bodies of two tribes people, I really love the contrasting skin tones and how the finishes accentuate their form. Contrasts, however, have not only been skin deep throughout my research, they have been integral to many parts of it, from tribes people against city people, traditional against modern and poverty against great wealth. Africa really is a land of contrasts and so I thought it was really important to show this through my work. I have been playing around with different surface textures on recycled rubber inner tubes. Recycling has become a big part of my practice, it is also something which is prevalent in African culture. Tribe’s people are very resourceful and will use what is available to them to create beautiful adornment.
I really love the amazingly over the top gold that the Asanti tribe from Ghana wear. For centuries they have been making jewellery using the lost wax casting technique, where wax models are covered in thin layers of clay, which is then fired so that the clay hardens and the wax melts out, the clay is then used to cast the gold. I thought it would be interesting to recreate the texture and look of the cast gold jewellery using a non precious material, something which could be done by anyone. I have cut rubber inner tubes and sprayed them with gold paint which I actually really like!
These are images of some of the beautiful work by Carina Chitsaz Shoshtary and Annamaria Leiste in their exhibition ‘Microphilia’, a reference to the micro world they both work in, spending hours working on tiny elements which make up their jewellery. Annamaria’s work is made from fish scales amongst other materials, strung upon delicate gold and blackened silver chain. I find her the pieces have a fragile, ethereal beauty. Carina’s work is made from pieces of wood that she finds close to her home, she covers these in tiny pieces of graffiti, a signiature material she has been working with for some time. It was a real pleasure for me to get a chance to work so closely with Carina’s jewellery, not only are they beautiful shapes with exciting colours, they are also incredibly tactile. I had admired and coveted Carina’s jewellery for some time and seeing them up close made me love them even more.
I had a brilliant time helping Carina Chitsaz Shoshtary and Annamaria Leiste set up their exhibition ‘Microphilia’, which was part of Munich Jewellery Week. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from these two talented ladies. The space they had for the exhibition was fairly small but their idea to fill it with white cardboard boxes made such good use of what space they had, creating an interesting backdrop for the work on display. The jewellery was hung and placed in nooks and crevices all over the installation, making it like a treasure hunt of beautiful objects. The placement of the work was much harder then I had anticipated, it’s really important for everything to be harmonious with one another, it was great practice for me to have some input into the display in this exhibition and also to learn from their ideas. They also had the brilliant idea to make display cabinets out of the card board boxes, which they were selling work from (all of which I wanted to buy!) Such a simple but clever idea, it really worked well with the rest of the exhibition, providing some warm light against the cold of the white. I had great fun helping with all the construction, and watching the whole thing come together.
I went to the opening of an exhibition of fourteen different artists at an amazing venue called Villa Stück a couple of nights ago. The exhibition was called GlAmour: Love of Jewellery and it included the work of two jewellery designers who I really love, Peter Chang and Karl Fritsch. Peter Chang makes surreal, fluorescent plastic jewellery which look like some kind of creature from a sci-fi film. Karl Fritsch makes unconventionally beautiful rings using gold, aluminium, diamonds and cubic zirconia amongst other materials , which challenge the idea of precious jewellery.
I had the opportunity to visit the studio of Attai Chen and Barbara Schrobenhauser the other day, they also share with two other artists who I did not get to meet unfortunately. They were both really busy getting everything organised to show next week at Schmuck so it was great to have a look around and get an insight into how they work. All of the jewellery artists here use such interesting and creative materials, it has really inspired me to be less restrictive when I’m working.
I am currently doing a work placement with the super lovely and talented jewellery artist Carina Chitsaz-Shoshtary. Carina has an exhibition starting next week as part of Schmuck week in Munich and I am helping out with the setting up of her show. The experience has been really great so far, I have had the opportunity to look around The Academy of Fine Arts whilst Carina was having work photographed, which was amazing. I also went to her house in the Bavarian countryside, where I got the chance to see her work up close and talk about her processes and practice. As a relative newcomer to art jewellery it has been incredible for me to gain an insight into how Carina works. Her time at the academy has given her a free, intuitive way of working which I feel is very inspiring.
I have been researching African street style, particularly in Lagos, Akkra and Benin City. I absolutely love the style of the people in these photo’s, it’s so bold and confident. There are clearly modern, western influences, but in each you can still see a connection to tradition, whether that be a print or some jewellery.
Whilst researching all things African in the UK I came across this little place in Dulwich. The museum is full of curiosities collected in the Victorian age. There were some interesting pieces on display in the Africa collection. I was particularly inspired by the amazing textures and by how strange and quite scary most of the objects were.
I went to the British Museum for a bit of inspiration. They have a pretty comprehensive collection of African artefacts, most of which are quite dark and a bit creepy. I really love the rust and texture of a lot of the objects they have. There is also some contemporary art there like the huge textile made from recycled bottle tops by the artist El Anatsui from Ghana. Upcycling is something I have done throughout most of my work so far and I am really interested to push that further in this project, as it is so evocative of African culture. So much tribal jewellery is made from what people find around them, I think this will be the starting point of my material play.