The last post of 2010.

It has been really quiet on this blog, because it has been very busy for me. To let you know what has caught my eye lately, here are, in random order, some images and a few words for this last post of 2010.

David Huycke has crowned his research on ‘The Metamorphic Ornament: Re-Thinking Granulation‘ with a PHD. Congratulations, very well done!

Wouldn’t it be great to try on the work of Benjamin Lignel? It was possible at his exhibition ‘Essayage/ fitting room’ in Luxemburg. I found out about this via the Klimt02 website.

A call for submissions for a new book entitled ‘Humor in Craft’ put together by Brigitte Martin, creator and Chief Editor of crafthaus. Deadline: March 1st 2011.

The wonderful ‘Opale Fatale’- collection by Joke Quick, fatal to me!

The LICHTEST exhibition, a special mix of Belgian and Estonian jewelry, curated by Aline Vandeplas. You can still go and see for yourself, it is on until December 30th 2010 in Bruges, Belgium!

Transgression, a brooch by Angela Tölken one of many at her exhibition in the Stellenbosch University Art Gallery, in Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Silke&thegallery has celebrated it’s 5th birthday with a happening: Every artist that once exhibited, showed work that had already been in the gallery, AND a recent piece!

At Confrontations 17-11-2010 organized by St. Lucas Antwerp Jewelry department I met the three busy ladies that form ‘Kasboek collectief’. They are a jewelry, graphic and fine artist and to do projects together, inspiring.

And last but not least, Friday the 24th of December is the last day of broesvi FOR LIFE! Order a children’s jewel at broesvi.com and all profit will help orphans in southern Africa built a better life. It makes children from everywhere happy!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Materiamorfosi: shopping bags

It has been summer holiday, a time to travel, go sightseeing, and RELAX. We went on a familytrip to Italy, and started in Rome. The boys really wanted to see the ancient Colosseum in the south (it spoke to their imagination) but were also happy to visit the contemporary Maxxi-museum in the north (they thought the banister was designed as a marble-track ☺). In between I wanted to make a stop, not to go shopping, but to visit the Alternatives Gallery! In the old centre, the small gallery is almost hidden in one of the tiny streets. Inside, there is a great collection of wonderful works though! I did not know where to look first…

Alternatives has artist from all over the world, but also some that are very close to home, like Margherita Marchioni. Her neckpiece ‘Materiamorfosi:shopping bags’ stood out to me. It attracted my attention because of its’ colorfulness, which felt refreshing after the ancient buildings we visited. I wondered if the neckpiece was made out of sweets, and was surprised to find it was made from shopping bags! In all her work, Margherita Marchioni recycles everyday objects, without actually changing the material. The shopping bags have been cut into strips, rolled and bundled together with differently colored ones to start a new life. It is still basically the same thin plastic, once used to carry shopping with, only worn in a wonderful altered way. For me, it was great to see some ‘local’ work, and what makes it even better, is that its’ made out of local products! I always cherish the shopping bags brought back from a trip as a kind of souvenir…. (for a while)


Aesthetic Nutrition

How does nutrition, on a socio-economic level and in its’ most basic form, relate to the aesthetic values of today’s society? This question can only come from Ana Cardim, who has a passion to make interactive, sociable jewelry-art. This takes shape in her recent project “Aesthetic Nutrition”.

The project consists of a video, projected on a wall, three heaps of rice, chopsticks and three bowls containing one, two and three hand-made rice grains. Each grain is made from pure gold, weighs half a gram, and has the economic value of about 15 kilos of eatable dry rice. (How many grains would that be?) In total, the project exists of three grams of gold, enough for a beautiful gold ring, and 90 kilo’s of rice, which can provide a meal for 1800 people! In the video you’ll see a girl trying to eat it all… Everyone that visited ‘Aesthetic Nutrition’ was given a cup filled with delicious rice-pudding.

With her project ‘Aesthetic Nutrition’, Ana Cardim seeks attention for the idea of the difference in quantity, and levels of value, between the esthetic value of gold and the value given to the basic human need for food.
I am glad this project touches the subject of discrepancy in value and quantity from an aesthetic point of view. The rice-colored, ceramic bowls that contain the golden grains, are shaped like up-side-down rice heaps and make a good visual contrast with the actual heaps of rice. The chopsticks both separate and connect the two, underlining the visual link. The video shown on the wall, completes the display. The action of handing out cups of rice-pudding causes the viewer to connect to the exhibit. How can you resist thinking about the subject, when looking at the serene beauty of the whole set-up, whilst eating yummie pudding!

The launch of the ‘Aesthetic Nutrition’ project happened on the 6th of July, and was commissioned by Bypass, an art magazine that invites artists to write about their work. The second magazine is due to be released in October 2010 and will contain an extensive article by Ana Cardim.

‘Aesthetic Nutrition’ was held in Appleton Square, which is a multivalent space geared towards diverse artistic manifestations and towards the sharing of multidisciplinary experiences. It was the first time that they had work on display by a jewelry designer!



Every once in a while something crosses my path that is interesting, but not strictly jewelry. That‘s the case with this piece ‘Panic’ by Sweden’s Anders Ljungberg. He is a silversmith who is interested is the relationship between a functional object and its’ user and their environment. His motto is: “We are defining objects, objects are defining us.” His particular interest is in handles, as they often are the link between object and user. Their position on the object dictates the way it is used.

Handles play a very important role in the work ‘Panic’ too. It exists of a silver jug and a table that have started living their own lives. This jug did not have handles, so it decided to cut off the legs of the table it is standing on and use them as a handle and a leg for itself. The jug has a solid base and a good chance of being held by its’ handle. But now, it has left the table leaning over to one side, causing danger of the jug sliding off!
I guess this is where Anders Ljungberg pictures the user coming to the rescue. Instead of the jug being there for the use of its’ owner, the owner/user has to be there to save the jug! I really like the way the piece demands interaction. The jug is clearly the starting point of this work, and mixes with the table in a funny way. Quite urgently, the potential user has to become part of the work. Panic all round!

This piece was one of many discussed in a talk held by Anders Ljungberg, which part of the symposium ‘Fine Silver: Lectures on Contemporary Metal’ at the PHL- University College in Hasselt, Belgium on the 29th of May. The lectures were held in context of the honorary doctorate that was awarded to Michael Rowe the day before!

(For the die-hard fans of this blog: What do you get when you have Alert and an Apocalyse: Panic! ☺)


Alert 2010

This neckpiece sends out a warning, so we should have seen this before the previous post ‘What after the apocalypse?’ Its’ title ‘Alert 2010’ kind of gives it away, and the alarming orange color was probably the reason for that title. A great way of getting attention!

Although the individual pendants of the neckpiece may or may not be a recognizable object, it is the combination that bonds them. That is how artist Robin Quigley intended her piece to work. She carefully selected objects that work well together, despite their difference in value, shape or material. By lining them up, she gives them a solid structure. Some pendants got a coat of pigment to match the color, unifying even more. That way it is hard for me to imagine that they were once separate objects.

‘Alert 2010’ has ten pendants, which to me is a very special number right now. My eldest just turned ten, which means we have been a family for ONE whole beautiful decade!

The exhibition ‘Remains’ opens on the 20th of May at Gallery Loupe in Montclair, New Jersey, U.S.A.


What after the apocalypse?

For this post I am staying in Belgium, where artist Willy Van De Velde has been around for quite a while. And, more impressively, without any formal training in the broad artistic field he is working in. His jewellery ranges from big helmets and large neckpieces, to the more recent, smaller sized, rings and bracelets.

Besides the size, there has been no change in the material use, though. As shown in the bracelet above, he is still working with plexiglas (acrylic sheet). Although he has been using this material since the eighties, it still gives the jewel a sense of futurism. Funny how a futuristic looking piece can have a retro feel to it.

The title of the work, “What after the apocalypse?” can be taken quite literally, if you see the round, clear bracelet as a symbol of the world and the descending fire as its’ ending. Your arm can save the world by never taking the bracelet off. The piece has been meticulously made, every scratch is sanded and polished to a smooth, shiny surface. The bracelet has been assembled with neat little screws instead of more messy glue. In this way parts can also be replaced in case of breakage. The result is a graphically strong piece and an apocalypse to my liking, a very clean one!

The exhibition ‘What after the apocalypse?’ is held until the 28th of May at Silke&the Gallery, in Antwerp.


Our vulnerable position

From student work in the last post, to a post about work from someone who has recently graduated. Showing the work from her Masters graduation from Konstfack in Stockholm, Belgian Hannah Joris created an installation with 99 brooches. They are all made from the same material, dried potato and iron! She carved the potatoes and hung them to dry, pierced by the iron brooch-pin. That way the potato shrinks around the iron, and becomes a compact, strong mass. To her, every potato represents a person, which is why she carved them into body-like shapes. Similar to what happens when people age, the shapes shriveled up, looking like they suffered while doing so. This is what Hannah Joris wants to show, although not the actual suffering, aging, shrinking and shriveling. But the vulnerable expression the shapes obtain, and beauty that results from it.

About half of the 99 brooches are on display, enough to come across as one group. Which is the way I saw the work. As I got closer I could separate the individual brooches, their similarities and differences. The different colors came from the different kinds of potato, vaguely resembling wood. The different shapes came from the way they were carved and dried. I could recognize their expressions. I could see the suffering, aging, wrinkling and vulnerability, and, with some, even the beauty of that. Some were quite touching, others daunting, and some possibly cute! The material used looked right, the shapes looked very natural, (because of their color?) I had the feeling I was looking at something very special, not at something as ordinary as a potato. Not one second it crossed my mind that I was looking at food. The familiarity of the shapes to the human shape was well done, and eating them would feel like cannibalism!

The brooches are exhibited specially for the ‘Art Brussels’ fair, at Caroline Van Hoek Gallery, in Brussels, Belgium.


Books & Jewels

For this post I’ve chosen another piece of work from an exhibition that I visited, but one of a totally different scale. This work is one of the seven installations of the exhibit Books&Jewels! The work is created by students, the Bachelor students of Sint Lucas in Antwerp.

The object of the students’ assignment was to show how books support a work of art. Of course, books can support art as a source of inspiration, stimulation for the mind, and base for research.
In this case, support was taken quite literally by Octave Vandeweghe who created the work above! It has a big pile of books as a support! The artwork on top consists of a piece of bronze piping used for water supply, and a porcelain spout of a teapot. The artist has a love for collecting things, as some of the books show. Is this how the piece came to life? Out of someone’s personal collection?

Both the books and the work have made my mind wonder. I love the way the object has a special stand made for it, showing how much it is cared for, as the top book “objets affectifs” gives away. Fun how there is a book called “trans plant”, as if the plumming is transplanted onto the spout, making it a ‘surreal thing’, the title of another book. They fit together perfectly to form what looks like a pipe, hence the big fat Magritte-book. “Filosofie van het kijken” (Philosophy of looking) is what I am doing right now! Especially since I’m thinking the ‘pipe’ can actually be used to drink water from. It has that piece of plumming, and spout of a teapot, both closely connected to water. Another book catches my eye, not for its’ title (Conversion to modernism) but by the authors’ name, Naumann. I know Francis M. Naumann is not the same as the, also modernist, artist Bruce Nauman, but he is the one who made the stunning work ‘Self portrait as a fountain’. It all comes down to water, let’s hope these books don’t get wet wet wet!

The exhibition Books&Jewels is running until the 2nd of April at Silke&the gallery in Antwerp, Belgium.

Four of the Masters students of Sint Lucas have started a blog, it is called the power of jewellery.


Golden Fleece ring- update

Today I was really impressed. I saw so much art, of so many disciplines, represented by just about every period in art history! I was not walking around in a museum, these pieces were for sale. Of course my interest was mainly in jewelry, but everywhere I looked there was something worthwhile. To give you an idea of what I found particularly impressive, from last (and this) century art, there were pieces of vintage furniture (Le Corbusier chair with leopard print). And pop-art (felt work by Roy Lichtenstein, wonderful world time watch by Andy Warhol). And plenty of other artworks by Yves Klein, Sol Lewitt, On Kawara, Wim Delvoye, Niki de Saint Phalle.…
Jewelry had lots of faces. Of course diamonds were largely represented, but I also stumbled upon the most amazing collection of historical jewelry, from jewelry of the Roman Empire to the Vikings. For example, did you know the Vikings braided their golden rings?. This went on to vintage Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry, that Hollywood stars are now wearing, to great jewels designed by Paloma Picasso for Tiffany & Co, and even work by Giampaolo Babetto!
Most of the time, I did not know where to look. The constant, irresistible distraction meant that I kept getting lost! And when I finally controlled my urge to drool, I could see the groups of galleries that were formed by the people organising TEFAF. That is short for ‘the European fine art fair’, and this was the 2010 edition, in Maastricht, The Netherlands. Until the 21 of March you can let yourself get impressed, distracted, lost, drooling and more of the above.

There was another reason why I was impressed today. About a year ago I wrote about Giovanni Corvaja’s Golden Fleece Collection, and this beautiful morning I saw it live! From behind their glass door, I first looked at the bracelet paired with the pendant. They seemed so soft! The color of the golden fur surprised me a bit, it had a dark note to it. As a jeweler, it reminded me of golden sawdust, which made the pieces more real to me. The next cabinet contained the brooch, which attracted my attention because of the circular way the golden fur was arranged, ending in a cute little bump. And the ring, with its’ meaning of everything enduring love; was displayed hanging, so none of the tiny golden hairs would get crushed. Like with all the other pieces, they had a direction, copying real fur. I could see the solid ring on the inside, perforated with tiny holes to hold the golden fur threads. It looked flawless to me, perfect on the inside, with a ‘wild’ soft furry coat on the outside. And then, having the aesthetic part covered, I was allowed to touch it! And YES it was soft! Very, very soft! Stroking in the direction of the furry hairs, there was no way to tell where one started or ended. I loved how you could feel that it was still gold, a metal, so a little cold. And also with a slight ‘toughness' that is hard to describe, because it was so extremely soft! With the tactile mystery resolved, there is only one more thing for me to do: wear it!

At Tefaf the work of Giovanni Corvaja is represented by Adrian Sassoon Gallery at exhibitors number 264.


Growing Jewelry

A monstrous headache while being busy with other things on the computer kept me from blogging. The last few weeks it must have seemed like I vanished of the earth… So I decided to write about a jewel that keeps the earth close and, even better, growing. Specially designed for people in metropolitan cities to be in contact with nature.

Basically, product designer Hafsteinn Juliusson enables us to walk around with a beautiful miniature garden. You won’t need a lawn mower for this one, but it does need some basic care. I see it as a great way for the wearer to get in touch with the elements, by making it rain on their hands. The smell coming off the jewel will most likely remind you of long walks in the forest. Those lovely soft mosses sure look inviting to me!


Erupt 2010

Another neckpiece, and this time from, what I assume are, all new materials: silicon rubber, glass beads and linen thread. The combination of those three things does not look like what you might expect from them. The beads don’t seem to be threaded. The linen thread is wrapped around the silicon rubber instead of being covered by it! The result is a solid, organic piece with attention to detail.

An eruption seems to have happened, several craters can be be found on the surface. This is where the bare silicon is visible. The pinkish holes are surrounded by lots of tiny, bright yellow glass beads, packed together very tightly. Where the spread of yellow stops, the soft linen starts, calming the piece down and making it look more friendly. It ends with a loop on one side, and on the other side, a rounded and dented form in a brighter pink color, as if it could be the source, or start of something similar but new…. No matter what else my imagination can come up with, this beautiful neckpiece has clearly grown. It makes me think of internal body-parts, or something from the bottom of the sea, and somehow I even get weird flash-backs from the Avatar movie!

Emily Hunt included this work in her exhibition ‘Appendage*’, which I think is a great title since it refers to biology, a starting point for her pieces, as well as language. Appendage could also apply to jewelry on the body, although all the precious jewels, like the ones showcased in my vitrine, would be missed enormously!
The Appendage exhibition can be visit in gallery Metalab near Sydney in Australia, but hurry it is on until the 25th of February.

Exhibition is also showcased on Klimt02.

*Wikipedia: An appendage in the broadest sense is an additional or subsidiary part existing on, or added to, something which can generally still function if the appendage has never existed or is later provided or grown, or will still perform a primary function if the appendage is removed.


Tante Rosanne

(photograph by Johan Hespeel)

After all the male input from the Lingam exhibition in the previous post, this blog needed a female boost. And, since Tine Vindevogel has won the first prize in the 2009 four-yearly prize for arts and crafts (congratulations), an initiative of the province of West-Flanders, Belgium, her work was brought to my attention.

The title ‘Tante Rosanne’ (aunt Rosanne in Dutch) implies plenty of femininity. The fine crocodile strap used for the neckpiece, could refer to upper class ladies. The fact that is made from a vintage crocodile belt, with signs of wear and tear clearly visible, to me, refers to the ‘aunt’ part of the title.

This work is one of her ‘Migration in Jewelry’ –series, because all the works are made from old shoes, that used to migrate through the world. The wearers’ input has made the shoe more interesting to Tine Vindevogel. She has taken it even further, by migrating the material on the body as well.

The old soles in this neckpiece are carefully selected to combine their rounded shape with the rectangular shape of the belt. The tension and balance between these contradicting forms is what Tine Vindevogel is after in all her work. The result is incredibly beautiful!

I love the delicacy she puts in her work, the roughness that normally comes with soles of shoes has totally disappeared. Instead, there is a perfection that can only exist because of imperfection.

Last week, I went to the prizedraw to support my friend Aline Vandeplas, who came in second, with her ‘Gold-up’ work. Read my earlier post about her ‘Golden fruit’ here. The exhibition of the 2009 four-yearly prize for arts and crafts, is on until March 14th in Bruges, Belgium.


What are you looking for?

© Photography by Rob Versluys

After long deliberation (see previous post), I chose the work ‘What are you looking’ for by Swedish Sofia Björkman. It shows a still-frame of an ultrasound, a western proof of fertility, a symbol of our focus on facts. This is countered by the questions on the bottom. “What are you looking for? What do you hope to see? Will you keep it? Who is responsible for your decision?” They are not the kind of questions asked when someone has an ultrasound. They make it a personal issue, a personal insecurity that comes with every pregnancy.

It is clear that it is a boy, because of his golden phallus protruding out of the picture, a beautiful way of dealing with the lingam. In Hinduism the lingam is an explosive energy, surrounded by the ongoing energy of its’ female equivalent. A clear plastic shape covers the picture, it suggests a uterus, a way of showing the female energy. But it goes further than that; the little thing in the ultrasound is her son, making it very precious, a result of love to be loved. To me, that is the true meaning of lingam.

Lingam exhibition

When I first heard about the lingam- exhibition, I thought it seemed purposely provocative. Maybe I was biased because of the provocative exhibition-mascot and by the fact that it was a Dutch exhibit. Then, Caroline Van Hoek invited me for her three-year- celebration dinner, with Ruudt Peters as a special guest. He is a renowned Dutch jewelry artist and teacher, and curator of the lingam- exhibition. Caroline sent this you tube film around and seeing it changed my mind.

In his speech, and in the film, Ruudt Peters explained how he got to make lingams himself. How they intrigued him, when he found lots in an eastern market. How big the cultural differences between east and west are; concerning the depiction of these fertility symbols, a common thing in the east, and practically non-existing in the west. He took them to the west and then was curious about other peoples’ points of view. So, he invited 122 artists to come up with a western answer to the eastern lingam, a way of showing a deeper spiritual meaning and symbolism. But when the boxes with the lingam- works arrived, he felt like he could not go through with the exhibition, the work felt out of place, almost vulgar, in our western culture. In the end, with all 122 works there, in a museum dedicated to religion (Christian art) he felt it was a true display of western society, in all it shapes and forms, through lingams.

When I was there, it was busier then I expected. It was nice to hear people comment to each other about the works. (Some were trying to see the deeper meaning and unhappy that there was not enough explanation. Some were laughing at the funny work, some were discussing the material use and some were getting excited to go and make their own lingam, great!) All the works, combined with real eastern lingams, were scattered on three big tables in one room. The walls and ceiling were painted orange except the yellowy lights directed at the work. The color reminded me of the red-lights, apparently I still could not get passed my western background. Or being inside a huge body, it was the same color as you get when you put a flashlight through the tip of your finger. Not the usual setting for contemporary jewelry exhibits. Because of this lighting, you had to get really close to get a decent look at any of the work. With 122 incredibly diverse works to choose from it was very hard for me to select one. I think Ruudt Peters was right when he said it turned out to be an example of what western culture can do with the lingam theme. Continued in the next post..


Blooms, Efflorescence, and Other Dermatological Embellishments (Cystic Acne, Back) 2009

Jewelry is a personal business. That is one of the things that I like so much about it. It is meant to be worn, so you need to get close to it, so close it touches you. And sometimes you have to be brave for that.

That is the case with this body piece by Lauren Kalman. She is brave. She is interested in the imaged body, consumer culture, body aesthetics, and illness. She uses the personal closeness of the body for her work.

In this piece, she has replaced cystic acne with traditional jewelry. From a distance it still looks like a severe case of acne and I am quite repelled by that. From up close it shows that it is not acne, but jewelry and I feel relieved. Even closer, it becomes clear that the jewels are pierced trough the skin with acupuncture needles. That makes me feel uneasy at the least, but I also want to touch them. I am not sure if I want take them all out, or if I want to make sure they stay in place; this is what makes this work so intriguing. The fact that I can relate to the person wearing the, surely painful, body piece is exactly the point Lauren Kalman wants to make.

This artist is a member of apparat and Klimt02.


‘Schnee von gestern’ ‘single lift’ — brooch 3

All the snow we have had lately is making me think of one thing: Ski! But since I live in one of the flattest parts of the world, I’ll have to indulge in my craving in a different way. Jantje Fleischuts’ work ‘schnee von gestern’
‘single lift’ — brooch 3 will do perfectly.

The brooch is shaped like a ski lift, the one thing that gives me the ‘I am about to ski’- feeling. After all the dressing up, getting everybody ready, passing the ticket control, hoisting ski’s and poles into the lift, the lift steadily rises, sometimes with a bit of a dangle, to the top of the mountain where slopes are waiting for us. I can imagine how the brooch, when worn, would dangle on the pin as if on a cable, a fun detail to me.

The work is made from a real ski, satisfying me in a sensatory way. Putting on the brooch would make the ski- material close enough to almost feel a drip from the melting of yesterdays’ snow (schnee von gestern in English).
Finally, the lively, 80’s, duck-egg- blue color of the brooch reminds me of skiing. On the slopes you see people wearing the brightest colors, ones they would not wear anywhere else. And that big white ‘S’ just says it all.

This work comes from the Online- collection on Jantje Fleischuts’ website. More from the ‘Schnee von gestern’- series can be seen there. She also has a section called Gallery-collections, where she displays work from her current solo exhibition: ‘Lost in translation and back to moon’ at gallery Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Untill the 16th of January so hurry!
And also found on Klimt02, of course.