SENSEability is a touring exhibition which has been to Munich, we now have the pleasure of showing it in the gallery for three days before it goes off to Vienna. The curators; Rachel Darbourne and Drew Markou, introduce the exhibition to us here.
Sense: A faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch. A way in which an expression or a situation can be interpreted; a meaning.
Ability: possession of the means or skill to do something. A talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area.
Sensibility: the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity.
When we were selecting for SENSEability our aim was to curate an exhibition that showed a diverse collection of work made from a variety of materials and using different skill sets. This diversity of different sensibilities will highlight the unique visual language of each individual art jeweller. SENSEability aims to encourage the viewer to spend time engaging with the work; examining and contrasting individual visual languages through the aesthetic and design decisions seen in each finished piece, each individual collection and then the exhibition as a whole.
We were looking for jewellers that approached all aspects of their practice with sensitivity and a thorough and rigorous approach to their visual language, in other words, consistency from concept through materials to outcome.
One’s judgments, values, aesthetics and sensibilities are one’s own. Initially they are all we have to work with. Education provides us with some of the tools to enable informed decision making, to critique, to evaluate and evolve ideas and to develop solutions, creating a level of sophistication within our aesthetic decision making processes, building upon our inherent sensibilities.
‘But though all our knowledge begins with experience, it does not follow that it all arises out of experience.’ Immanuel Kant (1787) from Critique of Pure Reason.
Sights and objects within my gaze become instantly transformed in my mind. I mentally pull them apart abstracting elemental structures and materials before reconstructing them into different objects and forms with variable functions at changing scales. It is the dialogue between these scales that allow me to create three-dimensional models allowing for the manifestation of jewellery, vessels, furniture, sculpture and landscapes. This process has become one of an evolutionary and cyclical nature, with small scale objects and large scale works constantly informing each other, each a new starting point not an ending or conclusion driving an ever
inquisitive investigation into composition and the language of aesthetics. The spontaneity of this process is captured in my construction techniques. Materials are habitually left true to their nature, allowing their inherent qualities to prevail creating an often minimalistic and sometimes brutalist aesthetic.
Everyday objects in new surroundings. A gravel path glistening in the moonlight. The element of surprise, the history of the material, the surreal ingredient of everyday life. Potatoes made of gold.
A potato found on the pavement of a city street wisper stories of the first potato ever to travel into space and back. It speaks of dark and secret societies of the underground as well as the glamour of the colorful days of sun and flowers. No potato is alone. So many similarities to us humans. Constantly surrounded by, relating to others. Like us, no potato is an island. Potatoes are survivors. Put one in a dark space and it will reach out its long, pale arms towards the light, to fight for life. Even so, it bruises easily. Potatoes are people too.
I have found everyday related items on the ground during city walks. These items are often food related. I use them as a starting point for making jewellery. Since I have found a lot of potatoes, some pieces are commenting the potato and the relationship we have to it as humans, some are commenting the fact that we live in a world where in some parts you can’t get food for the day and in some parts you find food lying on the ground. Food is politics.
I am a maker, living and working in Sweden. Most precious to me is my husband and my three children. My work is often related to the choices we make as humans and how it affects the small and the big picture. I have a manifesto on material use, where I declare my materials to be the ones surrounding me. I try not to buy any materials but to have them given to me, harvested by me, stolen or found. For inspiration I walk.
Our desire to escape everyday life fascinates me. By listening to the objects of the everyday I want to make everyday matter
Helena Johansson Lindell
I work with plastic materials – mostly second-hand toys and kitchenware. Plastic is a light, homogeneous material, dense in colour, long-lasting, cheap to come by.
When working with it, I use hand tools. A saw and a file is all I need together with the component of synthetic glue.
Plastic is often judged and vilified and is strongly associated with trash. As toys often are made out of it, plastic becomes a “childish” material. Because it is commonly used in kitchenware and other utensils around the home, it is also associated to women. In other words, plastic is a material with low status.
I have grown tired of the hierarchical value system that we are collectively immersed in, the ideas that some things, some ways, some people are better or worth more than others. By embracing the materials, the methods and personal qualities that, from a societal perspective, are considered low class, low status or simply bad taste, and by owning and being these things, be it childish, feminine, intuitive, sensitive, sensual, I try to challenge those values.
It is the feminist and activist in me that chooses to make jewellery out of plastic.
Josefine Ronsholf Smith
In a world saturated with products I find that as a maker it is my responsibility to find a reason for contributing more products. My intention is to make jewellery that is appreciated as keep-sakes, which have value beyond monetary costs with the capacity for emotional investment. I believe that it is possible to create jewellery that has relevance beyond the first desire to own and consume.
This body of work has sprung from my interest in materials, and specifically wood. By recognizing what naturally occurs in the wood and exploiting those qualities, such as mirroring wood patterns, I create intriguing tactile surfaces.
In my work, I am capturing abstractions and elements of functional objects that evoke associations with tools or totems and therefore elicit familiarity. I am interested in how we then connect with these objects based on our cultural contexts and conditioned tastes. It is an exploration of how our visual heritage triggers memories, which determines our attraction to an object. I encourage the viewer and the wearer to consider intimacy and emotional durability within an object.
Confrontations in Balance
Black and yellow combined are signs of warning, a call for awareness that is often overlooked, becoming so commonplace that it is thus disregarded. My initial inspiration has been observing these traces on the streets.
These stark compositions are then created through the combination and confrontation of the chosen materials, pushing the boundaries between fragility and durability, softness and hardness, line and block. Resulting in jewellery that is both wearable and relational. The yellow is a warning but also provides the protection of more fragile elements. Black lampworked glass is used to explore a material that in a natural state is a liquid however in any sense is seen as a solid. The pieces are these conversions and it is how they relate to each other, whether through weight, colour, surface
or process, that produces the final design.
They are made for that purpose only, with no want or need for embellishment.
I have always been a nomad; I have never felt a true sense of belonging in any of the places I have lived and I am beginning to wonder if such a sense could ever be possible for me. It is quite possible that because I started wandering at such a young age I might never be able to say that I am from anywhere and feel it in a deeply grounded way. My sense of identity has very little to do with where I come from and more to do with the people, places and experiences which have been important to me throughout my pursuit for authenticity. 2014 has been a transitional year: It has been spent between Lisbon, Portugal and, Montana, USA. I have returned to the United States, my country of origin after having spent ten of my fourteen adult years elsewhere. Throughout the time spent away from home, I had to be an ambassador for my country, trying to disprove stereotypes and misconceptions. I find myself coming to terms yet again with many idiosyncrasies and aspects of my culture which now seem completely foreign to me. We are always more critical, and oftentimes more defensive of that which is our own.
The thing about the United States is that it is rather large and anything but homogeneous. The state I now call home happens to be larger than the entire country of Germany, while only claiming 800,000 inhabitants. Here in Montana there are mountains as far as the eye can see and stunning landscapes abound. Very few people
lock their doors and the vast amount of unspoiled open space harkens back to a different era. I have begun to feel a semblance of roots yearning to grow out of my boots if I allow them to do so.
As a jeweller who almost always opts for found or nature objects as a point of departure, I could not be better situated. The stunning, expansive mountains, an abundance of open spaces, and the diverse wildlife make for fruitful, thrilling hunting of artifacts at each bend in the road. This found treasure comes in the form of bones waiting to be unearthed, stones on riverbeds, or seeds on dried up flowers waiting for the wind to sow them. Human artifacts are also easily procured when one pays attention. America is the land of plenty of stuff: objects I didn’t know existed, but desperately need as soon as I lay eyes on them.
Through jewellery, I have the ability to open viewers´eyes to our marvellous, delicious world where everything and anything—in terms of material, process and technique—goes. Anyone with a little spunk can wear bold jewellery and she or he will most likely spark a conversation by doing so. Jewellery just may be our singular
opportunity to be a walking art installation, or to possess subtle magical powers, or both!
The body of work composed for SENSEability, is made up of objects found in Lisbon and in Montana; it is the result of my most recent cases of wanderlust. Each piece contains a clue to my life and to my identity: to the woman I am now, and to the woman I hope to be someday.
We are all animals. Individuals of a remarkably successful species. The history is not long, our 200 000 years is considered as a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms. But if we play our cards well there will be humans walking around on the Earth for many years to come. Cooperation, compassion and an exceptional clever mind have all been winning qualities on the evolutionary road. We have the sense, the ability and the sensibility. This brilliancy did not arise all of a sudden. There where others before us. Different kind of hominines, who learned how to hunt, make use of fire, communicate and even make art. My jewellery art is about the kind of human animals we are today and the individuals who went before us. I portray Neanderthals, Homo habilis and Australopithecus afarensis as persons with feelings and sensibility. It was their lives, thoughts and struggle that cleared the way for us and we would not be an existing species without them. We carry their traces in our DNA.
I explore humanity. Even if we know more than ever about our history we know less than ever about what is next.
My design approach is based on experimental Methodologies, I have a passion for juxtaposing unusual and an unexpected mix of materials using a myriad of making processes in order to create thought provoking jewellery.
My current practice of work equates or references museum collections of wonderful specimens and artefacts, which have been found and collated as ‘sequences’ for the viewer to observe and question.
By using chemical processes like electroforming, etching and patination I am able to create a biological inspired surface. This is then combined with natural objects, which have been rehabilitated by materials like silicones, resins and latex. The way I create samples through experimentation is not necessarily organised, it is spontaneous, that way I don’t have time to over think all aesthetics, this technique allows me to produce
a large body of samples, which can either be further developed or combined with others. As the maker, each one of the samples has its own story and character, so I find it difficult when trying to compose these elements together, often I will spend weeks allowing the materials to talk to each other until I have found the best composition.
The world becoming more and more dominated by technology and the digital, virtual image, ensures an increasingly separation from the emotional and physical of artefacts. Due to the internet we are all visually and virtually connected, but not physically. Touch or tactile perception is overshadowed by the visual culture in
which we live, but still, those visual imagery makes touch and feel the hungriest senses of postmodernity. Yet, a contemporary desire has grown to surround ourselves with objects which reflect a more human and natural touch, unlike the uniform industrial products. During the last three decades technology has accelerated in an
explosive way. The use of innovative industrial techniques is no longer ignored within the craft world, since it clearly offers novel possibilities to both the design and the manufacturing of artefacts. In my work I am questioning reproduction, within an industrial context, in order to create wearable objects that attain a warmer human touch, unique fingerprint and certain tactility. An unconventional combination of natural animal materials and industrial mechanical treatment, like laser cutting, enables me to achieve another perspective on reproduction. I’m extensively using the laser cutting technique, which has mainly been developed for mass production. In this context, reproducibility is rarely or never questioned since it is digitally controlled and thus stimulates (re) production. In a traditional computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) workflow, the design process and the implementation are clearly separated. However, in creating my work I’m using the technique in such a way that it not only carries out the work but it actually becomes part of the design process. By handling the machine myself, in combination with natural materials, I’m counteracting the mainly automated process and in that way creating a more open working process: handling an innovative digital technology through a craftsman-like way of thinking. In a playful experimental approach the natural distinctness, such as hair growth and skin thickness, structures and behaviours of each animal hide and specie is used as an active agent in the design and making process, using the material as subject and as matter. The circle as a clean geometrical form shows the essence and beauty of the animal hides in its most elementary form. A close-up, focussing on hidden details, gives an entirely new structural formation of the subject. Via variations with
the geometrical shape in combination with the possibilities that the laser cutting technique gives I can create unique selections by way of different handlings. Approaching reproduction in various ways, creating unique objects within the series with a more human touch and certain tactility. via wearable objects with a more
human touch and a certain tactility. The hair growth strengthens and offers an even more emotional tactile experience of the maker, beholder and wearer. This tactility can be perceived physically through touch and, or, (in)directly imaginary and visually through our eyes.
Olivia Monti Arduini
Interested in form, movement and resilience, in my practice I challenge the traditional. Using a fine porcelain body I stretch the material plasticity transforming its usual stiffness in a flexible structure. Porcelain is considered a very delicate material and I like the contrast it creates when weaved in an armour pattern. My
pieces interact strongly with the senses, adjusting to the body’s temperature, changing shape and adapting to its flexibility and making a delicate sound with its movements. Their unusual material quality build a new interesting conversation with the wearer.
“Everybody has their own jewellery. But not everyone realises that they have already worn it.”
Panjapol Kulpapangkorn recorded and collected memories from places visited by using film, sound, diary, photographs and found objects. All these things have a strong emotional and physical relationship in his work. The precious memory is very personal and individual. He defines it as a piece of jewellery that is still a part of him and with him all the time and as such it is worn, not on the body but in the mind:
“7 days a week with assoc. Prof. Wipha” is a part of the “Jewellery is at my feet, the show is yours” project. The project focuses on Wipha Kulpapangkorn’s memories (my lovely mom) who suffer from a Frontotemporal Dementia (this form of FTD affects social skills, emotions, personal conduct and self-awareness). After returning to Bangkok In 2013 I started this project by spending a month doing a documentary film on my mom (Suspended in Green exhibition). This project is still continuously developed for my own research on ways to find directions of communication.”
There was a murder.
There was little understanding.
The crimes escalated.
The greed for bodies is now insatiable……
A warning – be wary for your discarded childhood memories, the token of love generously given yet discarded……
Emotional and physical transgressions, dismemberment, disfigurement, sexual-mutation, all perpetrated against the sacred, the innocent transitional object.
Oh what fun……
If you don’t connect, you don’t exist!
Amazement at interpersonal relationships and the adaptability to the diversity of our society are threads that can be found throughout my work, and these threads can take on a variety of colours. Expression and wearability and, above all, the way jewels behave are primordial in the design. The key words for this collection are connection, contact, link, relationship and coherence.
Within the network of our collective memory we all feel connected by culture, faith, fear and family. When relationships are broken I would like to heal them. I repair, patch, embroider and restore the components of my work to bring everything together again.
Photographs of my work are just a fraction of their presentation. It’s a pity to not be able to feel my pieces. They are extremely tactile and soft. They feel like fabric and the movement they make when you walk is very poetical and unique.
Light Opened Her Eyes
A series of silver broaches for collectors. I’d like to encourage foraging and finding treasures, and enjoy the way that my broaches become interactive and collaborative pieces. Each piece has space for the wearer to choose a single stem to carry with them. Through the unique choices of the wearer the piece becomes an expression of personality, a record of the path taken and a reminder to stop and absorb.
I create tactile, expressive jewellery pieces using traditional techniques that allow an immediacy of making. I find inspiration in the work of ancient Columbian and Etruscan goldsmiths, in modern literature and the natural world. I aim to create pieces that are beautiful and wearable, and have a depth and thoughtfulness to them. These pieces are all made with recycled Silver, I also work with Fairtrade Silver and Gold.