About contemporary art jewellery as a movement
Contemporary art jewellery, an art movement more widely recognized in Europe, America and Australia with numerous galleries and organisations dedicated to it, is still relatively unknown in South Africa. Even though local art jewellers (many of whom trained at Stellenbosch University, arguably the only institution in South Africa to focus on contemporary art jewellery) are often well received abroad (notably in Germany, the Netherlands and the USA) the small community is virtually unrecognized locally.
Contemporary art jewellery, also referred to as ‘studio jewellery’ in the USA, is not concerned with mass-produced commercial pieces, but with unique creations (usually in a body of work) through which the artist investigates and interrogates any concept or concern imaginable, be it on a social, private, conceptual, emotive, visual or material level. Art jewellers frequently critique contemporary society, politics, environmental problems, consumerism, identity, memory and recollection, and traditional jewellery-specific conventions to name but a few.
Since jewellery is usually worn on or close to the body, the body and its relation to the piece in all its conceptual, philosophical, emotional & physical complexity often forms an integral part of the interrogation process. This is not to say, however, that all contemporary art jewellery pieces are necessarily wearable, for it is often the relation between the body and the work that is of particular interest, more so than the actual jewellery piece.
In the larger context of contemporary art jewellery, my work fits into the stream dealing with notions of self-representation, identity and value. My investigations are approached from an intra-personal perspective: what defines and shapes who I am? How do I value, challenge and accept who I am, and how do I change who I am? I explore these questions from a formal (i.e. visual) and conceptual angle to (rather inevitably) create miniature self-portraits or snap-shots in three dimensions. The considerable amount of time invested in my pieces and the imperceptible, subjective value inscribed by it is of special significance in my work.
Recommended sites specific to art jewellery:
Klimt 02 provides an excellent on-going overview of/introduction to contemporary art jewellery on an international basis:
Art Jewelry Forum is an insightful American-based forum devoted to art jewellery: