I am currently exploring jewellery as an expression of identity, and making jewellery as an expression of myself as the maker.
In reflecting on the bangle that I have just made, I picked up on two aspects of myself that are being expressed.
Childhood Memories: I grew up in Zimbabwe in an old Rhodesian house with decorative iron burglar bars. I would lie in bed and stare at the patterns trying to see if I could make other patterns within them. I have seen some reminiscence of the elements from those burglar bars in my work (this bangle included). The use of these elements in my work is a connection to my childhood and upbringing.
My Femininity: I like to embrace and celebrate my femininity. I think that the qualities of a woman, both inside and out are a beautiful combination of strength and meekness. I think it is important to note that the lace-look I have chosen for this piece is a rugged lace, not refined and perfect. This is a representation of how I feel that although the nature of a woman is delicate and refined, each of use holds a unique strength and character. We may have flaws and faults but it’s the little knots and tassels that when woven together create a beautiful lacework.
I have been working on a bangle that sprouted from a wax impression casting I did not so long ago. It came out with a very lacey affect which set in my mind a clear concept for this bangle.
After doing some research I found it quite interesting that it is very hard to find contemporary jewellers who make jewellery specifically for, or with the expression of its wearer in mind. I found this very intriguing that one of the oldest crafts in history and means of ornamentation that originated around the world as a means of expression for the wearer has started to lose its original purpose…or has it?
I speak from personal experience when I say that as a contemporary jeweller, the ‘artist’ and ‘creator’ in me seems to only be satisfied when making a piece of jewellery where the only reference to the wearer is how the piece will fit on the body. It is satisfying to see the finished product appreciated and worn by someone, but only after the creation process has taken place. Is this strange? Has contemporary jewellery or ‘art jewellery’ become so far removed from its original function that function other than artistic expression is not even considered anymore?
Lin Cheung is a jeweller who makes jewellery for the wearer, and considers the function and meaning given to jewellery by its wearer.
Some work by Lin Cheung ^
I have been interested in the work of Anna Lorich for some time. The jewellery she makes deals with a number of issues, most of them revolving around and dealing with personal identity. Lorich sees her work as a reflection of who she is, using the creative process to question and search for her identity. She uses a number of themes such as landscapes, portraits and decorative elements as representations of issues such as relationships, memories, childhood and religion.
Landscape Ring, Anna Lorich
Brooches, Anna Lorich
I am also exploring the use of jewellery as a means of personal expression in my work at the moment. What I am focussing on, however is not so much jewellery being used as a tool of expression by its maker, but more by its wearer.
Anna Lorich chooses to use themes in the jewellery she makes as a representation of her own identity. In a similar way, I am choosing to make elements of jewellery which I hope people will choose to wear as a representation of certain aspects of their character.