I watched a really interesting Storyville documentary on BBC iplayer called Mugabe and The Democrats. It is about the leaders of two political parties in Zimbabwe trying to get people to vote honestly in a referendum about the electoral system of the government. In a speech to the voters, one of the leaders talks of how they once fought a war with guns in Zimbabwe but now they fight a war with pens. I thought that this was a powerful statement and that it could also be a really powerful visual. I have been trying out different finishes and shapes with pen lids in order to create a striking necklace for my collection. It might take me quite a lot of work to make them into something good, but I think it would be worth the hard work!
According to the artist Ralph Ziman, guns have an ‘almost mythical ‘ status in South Africa. Good or bad, the AK47 has become a massive part of the culture in cities and rural area’s of Sub-Saharan Africa. As I have mentioned before, I am interested in the contrasts of Africa and in the image of the young girl from the Mursi tribe holding a gun so casually, we see an evocative example of this which is what I am hoping to express through my work. When I visited the British Museum recently, they had an example of a fake assault rifle which was made by poor road workers as an attempt to warn off potential ambushes. The fake gun was made from wood and covered in tar. This has inspired me to make my own version of a fake gun using tar amongst other materials. I have been working on gun designs to be used as a motif throughout the collection
So another amazing year at Schmuck. I didn’t get to see nearly as many shows as I would have liked, but with there being 80 exhibitions as well as the main show at the Messestadt, it’s no easy task! I didn’t take photographs of everything but here are some of my highlights from what I saw. I have put names and descriptions on the photographs so if you like what you see, make sure you check out the jewellery artists!
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.