I am currently in my second year at Central Saint Martins studying Jewellery Design - I have not posted much about it on here as both the type work that I am producing and the fact that I am producing it myself rather than working purely as a designer are contrary to my typical modus operandi. However, I had to express my excited at being involved in this project alongside awesome work by my classmates.
I designed a collection inspired by a simple cross stitch sampler, exhibited at the museum. Sewing was one of the activities assigned to the girls at The Foundling Hospital, viewed a feminine task. It occurred to me that, though this sampler was a bland alphabet lacking individuality, this is a form of silent communication. The children were restricted but the harsh, draconian rules of their society. I combined the idioms pedagogy of era with the medium of cross stitch. The internal experiences of the children through created from materials which carry meaning beyond the sterile domesticity of the sampler displayed at the museum.
The piece on display is 'Speech is Silver'. The phrase ‘silence is golden’ is often used without the opening phrase, ‘speech is silver but silence is golden’. The children were materially poor, having nothing and no one but ‘golden silence’. The piece is made using sterling silver and tawdry gold thread to exemplify the hollowness of this phrase.
The exhibition will run from the 20th of November until 20th of January 2019.
That's all for now!
Yayoi Kasuma at Victoria Miro
Many people would recognise Yayoi Kusama's work without necessarily knowing her name (a collaboration with Louis Vuitton in 2012 does help with that!) Her work is widely appealing; the colours are bright and fun, the patterns can seem childlike and endearing and the glossy pumpkins make you feel like you are in Willy Wonka's fantasy. It is also personal and obsessive, deeply connected with her mental health and she has spent a great deal of her life in a psychiatric hospital. Her themes include cosmic infinity, personal obsession, and the sublime which she continues to explore through pattern and repetition as she approaches her 90th birthday.Yayoi Kusama: THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE
Yayoi Kusama was born in 1929 in Matsumoto City, she studied painting in Kyoto and moved to New York in the 1950s where she exhibited alongside (and may have influenced) peers such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and George Sega. She rose to fame in the pop art sphere thanks to her trademark polka dots, performance art and use of psychedelic colours. She became known for provocative happenings including ticketed polka dot orgies, anti-war protests etc.
The pumpkin, its patterns and textures is a recurring motif in her work and she has described these works as a form of self-portraiture.Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – MY HEART IS DANCING INTO THE UNIVERSE, 2018.
The exhibition at Victoria Miro is the debut of this new infinity mirror piece which is created from simple paper lanterns covered with polka dot patterns with colour changing bulbs within. Pictures cannot capture how immersive this really is. Gallery attendants warned us that we may fall over if we were not careful and we laughed them off until we were submerged in light and mirrors and immediately lost all sense of space and physical presence. The lights rhythmically move between the colours and the lanterns take on the feeling of benevolent UFOs.
Heidi Bucher at Parasol Unit Gallery=
Heidi Bucher is an artist that I had not been aware of before this exhibition at Parasol Unit Gallery. She was born in 1926 in Switzerland and attended the School for the Applied Arts in Zurich. On display at the Parasol Unit Gallery were her latex casts of room interiors which hung eerily from the walls or were suspended in the room like butchered hides waiting to be scraped. She herself referred to them as as Häutungen (skinnings). The texture, colour and process of the latex creates haunting imprints os the surfaces, such as doors and balustrades and she felt it liberated them from the memories they held for her. I was also interested in the process by which these pieces were created; first covered her chosen surface with gauze, pressed liquid latex into it - videos showed her and her team tenderly smoothing this onto walls and bodies with gloved hands - then when it was almost dry she peeled it off.Anna Mannheimer mit Zielscheibe (Anna Mannheimer with Target), 1975. Latex, cotton, mother-of-pearl pigment 213 x 200 x 2 cm.
This piece as described by Heidi Bucher's daughter in this article on Elephant:
The full title description located on the back of the work translates to: “Anna Mannheimer believed in Basil. Around 1950, someone shot at the target and the animal was injured. As a child Anna Mannheimer was lonely.” This very intimate and suggestive work relates to her childhood and adolescence. Having been a single and lonely child with a traditional bourgeois upbringing, she rebelled against the expected standards and went on to study at the School of Applied Arts, Zurich. Later she met Basil in London, who was a British officer and one of her first great loves, he was injured before they got to properly know each other.
Borg, 1976. Textile, latex, mother-of-pearl pigments, bamboo.
The title 'Borg' originates from an old Germanic word for a castle or inner defence. The piece is a cast of the entrance to her studio in Zurich which was a former butcher's freeze - so the impression of rawness, death and serial killers that her work gives me might be well-founded. It is easy to only see the qualities and odious tactility of the latex but her son has written that he believes the key element of her work lays in textiles as carriers of information. Textiles are inextricably linked to female art practices (you only need to look at the Bauhaus movement where female students were siphoned into textiles and discouraged from other practices.) Heidi Bucher's work juxtaposes these ephemeral materials with 'masculine' materials found in architectural interiors. Adding the mother-of-pearl pigments in later works further increased the dreamy, feminine qualities and meanings in the pieces.
That's all for now!
On Friday night, avoiding the pre-LFW parties, I slipped into Sotheby's to hear Liza Urla in conversation with Kristian Spofforth - and purchase a signed copy of the new Gemologue book! I had never been into Sotheby's before, with its imposing facade, suited staff and prestigious history I did not really feel like I would be allowed in. I had no idea that the public are welcome to come in and wander about, getting up close to art that would be cordoned off behind tight security in a gallery and the staff are unbelievably knowledgable and friendly.
Liza Urla looked very elegant in a bell-sleeved Ellery dress and Silvia Furmanovich earrings. Kristian Spofforth came across as gregarious and charming with orange socks matching the case of his tablet.
We were asked who knew the difference between natural and man-made diamonds, something that is seemed no one was quite sure enough to answer. This is a subject that I know far too little about and now want to look into further. Kristian Spofforth named two producers of man-made diamonds; DeBeers through Element Six and Diamond Foundry so I will look into this as an alternative for the future.
The difference, proposed Liza Urla, is that natural diamonds were a miracle of nature, the way they are formed about 90 miles under the Earth's mantle around 3 billion years ago whereas man-made have all the same characteristics but are new and factory made. An area of concern for many people now is protecting the natural environment and Kristian Spofforth considered there to be two main options; man-made/synthetic or recycling/remodelling. He went on to describe the characteristics which distinguish many older diamonds from the new cuts, they sparkle more in candlelight than incandescent light and are often slightly wonky and I agree with him that these difference can give the stone more personality and charm.
Liza Urla had asked many people their opinions on synthetic versus natural diamonds and found that many people are not really aware of this new alternative and, once it has been explained, many people were open to the idea for contemporary but would prefer natural for their engagement ring. So the choosing between these options is a largely emotional reaction and it will be interesting to see if attitudes change as the have with natural as opposed to cultured pearls.
My favourite part of the talk was hearing about Liza Urla's selection from the current auction. The first to be selected was an item of jewellery I personally have not come across before, clips for clothes! They look a lot like earring but are designed to be worn clipped onto the neckline or hem of evening wear. The pieces available for auction are 1960s Tiffany and open up a whole range of potential ideas. Liza Urla said that sometimes vintage jewellery feels like 'the real thing' or the original idea and I definitely agree, there are many items that may be classic now but it is always special to see a much older variety, such as Roman signet rings.
The next item was a Bvlgari, approximately 1940s clutch, a solid and weighty, tactile clutch with a mirror inside. Kristian Spofforth explained that the clutch has a loop so that coloured cords could be used to go around the wrist, but they are not generally found with the cords at auction.
My favourite piece was a diamond 'tennis' bracelet. Liza Urla stated, as only a jewellery lover could, that every girl eventually wants a diamond tennis bracelet. I am not sure that this is true for everyone but as I learn more about gems and craftsmanship I do feel that it is true for me. This piece included sapphire, rubies and emeralds which are polished as buff tops alongside the diamonds. Kristian Spofforth dates the piece as late 1920s/early 1930s but there is no signature so it is impossible to be sure of the maker except that they were a master craftsman.
In the Q&A Liza Urla was asked what she was wanting to be conveyed with the book. She said her favourite jewellery book is Understanding Jewellery (recently republished) but the problem with most jewellery books is that they only show product shots and so there is a lack of showing styling or seeing the pieces in situ. Liza Urla started her exploration with street style, the book is to inspire expression through jewellery as well as fashion, the intention is to be fun and show love for the pieces.
Having looked through the book, it certainly does that, it is a vibrant selection of images with a wide range of jewellery from costume to fine and full of inspiration.That's all for now!Yasminxxx
There are always so many exhibitions on in London that I never feel like I take advantage of everything on offer. I almost missed 'Rodin and the art of ancient Greece' at the British Museum but I am so glad that I went. My first degree was in Classics and Ancient History and I was obsessed with the British Museum as a child so it was lovely to read about Auguste Rodin having similar experiences viewing the Parthenon marbles almost a hundred years before, in 1911.
[The goddessses'] pose is so serence, so majestic, that they seem to participate in something grand that we do not see. Over them reigns, in effect, the great mystery: immaterial, eternal Reason obeyed by all Nature."
Auguste Rodin, Pallas (Athena) with the Parthenon (1896)
The first piece I encountered as I entered the gallery is probably my favourite. It encapsulates so many themes that I love in Rodin's work: Ancient Greek art (of course, and goddesses in particular), assemblage, the juxtaposition of rough and perfect forms. This sculpture is also a witty reimagining of Athena's miraculous birth from Zeus' skull after he swallowed her mother whole. In this version, the Parthenon bursts from her head and literally becomes her brainchild. The model was Marianna Russell. Assemblage is the bringing together of different objects, either whole or fragments and using them to create new compositions or meanings, somewhat like 3D collage. Rodin would sometimes combine casts from antiquities with his own work making entirely new creations. This is a way of working that I would love to experiment with while I am at university.
The Kiss (1888)
I had not realised that plaster casts have not always been considered to be poor replicas. In the 19th century, it was apparently common for sculptors to exhibit new works as plaster casts which would be copied in marble or bronze once a buyer had requested it. Some jewellery designers to this today with immaculate CAD renderings but I feel like something is lost in translation with this - though I am now tempted to try making some mock-pieces in plated brass and synthetic stones so I do not have to wait for commissions/ winning the lottery to create some extravagant work.
I intended my art to express the spectrum of emotions, from the heights of ecstasy to the depths of agony.. The body is a cast that bears the imprint of our passions.
Thought (1895) and Camille Claudel (1884) by unknown photographer.
This piece does look a bit odd at first glance but I wanted to include is as the head is modelled on the sculptor Camille Claudel who was Rodin's studio assistant, protégé and lover. "It was originally called Thought Emerging from Matter perhaps a reference to the ancient idea that artists had an inner vision of the subject of their art. They alone had the capacity to release this image from the unworked block of stone." Words taken from the British Museum sign. This work was carved by Victor Peter but many of Rodin's pieces were worked on by Camille, the craftswoman whose name is barely recognised today. I feel like I should do an separate post entirely about her.
That's all for now!
"From a bespoke bicycle to a dissolving fountain, the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition provides an important snapshot of how contemporary British craft practice reflects on, and engages with, the world today."Installation image of the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize display in collaboration with the V&A and the Crafts Council, 2017 © Victoria and Albert Museum
The work of the 12 finalists was incredibly varied and I do not envy the judges having to compare the merits of such incomparable pieces.
This is a shot I took of a glass and jesmonite humanoid by Emma Woffenden. The photo does not convey they eerie and sensual presence these creatures had in the room. Somewhere between Hans Bellmer's puppets and the caring robots from Ghibli's Castle in the Sky. Her faceless figures reflect observed human behaviour, with traits of humour, aggression and the absurd. She says her pieces “look quite alien but quite classical at the same time”, and that glass as a “material signals modernity and has a futuristic quality”.
(Left) ‘Triumph of the Immortal’ Phoebe Cummings for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize (Right) Factory’ by Neil Brownsword for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Ceramics are not something I am usually drawn to but I found the two pieces above very powerful. Both explored themes of creation and destruction. Phoebe Cummings' sculpture is a temporary fountain formed from raw clay. When the exhibition opens and the water starts to flow, the fountain will dissolve and the clay will trickle to the base, ready to be reused. Neil Brownsword has created an installation piece where artisan Rita Floyd creates handmade china flower but as soon as each flower is completed it is chucked onto a pile where gravity distorts the individual petals into a disordered mass.Snuff boxes by Romilly Saumarez Smith for the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize © Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonOf course another favourite was a jeweller or, more precisely, a set of jewellers. Romilly Saumarez Smith is unable to use her own hands and so she works with Lucie Gledhill, Laura Ngyou and Anna Wales who she refers to as "my translators". I loved this description of the makers as it is so true. As a designer, but not a maker, I know that whichever maker I work with for a particular piece will have a hint of their own interpretation in the piece just as the translator of a novel or book of poetry. The choice of snuff boxes (also used by Silvia Weindenbach) already give a sense of archaic society before you look closer and see the Tudor, Roman and Anglo Saxon found objects incorporated into the work.
The exhibition runs 7 September 2017 – 5 February 2018 and I would recommend going asap as some of the pieces are designed to dissolve or be destroyed as time passes...
That's all for now!