• Group shows 2015: Jewellery @ Hermanus Fynarts

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    For the first time ever, a group of contemporary artist jewellers participated in the widely acclaimed Hermanus Fynarts Festival. Eight jewellers presented their latest creations in an intimate, well-lit space at The Marine Hotel for 10 days in June 2015, drawing much and wide-spread attention to the concept of contemporary jewellery in South Africa.

     

    http://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/ 

    http://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/event/jewellery/

     

    Jewellery @ Hermanus Fynarts Festival

    Jewellery @ Hermanus Fynarts Festival

    Group shows 2015: Grafen/Graven

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    Staff members of the Visual Arts Department, Stellenbosch University, participated at the annual Woordfees by means of a group exhibition under the title Grafen/Graven, hosted by the Department’s Gallery GUS in Stellenbosch.

    The title had many possible interpretations and thus the provided works made for a wonderfully rich and varied exhibition.

    Grafen/Graven = 

    grave, graf, graff, grab, grêf, grav, gröf, grafa, graph, grav, grāv, gräv,greɪv, gravis,græf; ghrebh, grā′vən, graven, grafen, grafan, grabą, grabō
     
    carve, engrave, etch, incise, fix, impress, imprint, inscribe, stamp, fix permanently
    solemn, sedate, somber, sober, impress, dangerous, serious, severe, grievous, dignified, heavy, slow, serious, important, significant, critical, pressing, threatening, dangerous, vital, crucial, acute, severe, urgent, hazardous, momentous, perilous, weighty, leaden
    dig, excavate, burial, death, extinction, catacomb, cinerarium, crypt, mausoleum, ossuary, sepulcher, sepulture, tomb, vault, pit
    loss of memory, self-imposed silence, unmindfulness, unknowing, forgetfulness, loss of knowledge, entanglements, catastrophes, repressive, prescriptive
     
    kerf, graveer, ets, inkerf,  afdruk, graveer, stempel, besadigde, somber, ernstig, swaar, waardig, stadig, beduidende, druk, dreigend, ernstige, dringende, gevaarlike, belangrike, gewigtige, drukkend
    grawe, uitgrawe, begrafnis, dood, uitwissing, katakombe, grafkelder, mausoleum, knekelhuisje, graf, sepulture, kluis, put
    verlies, vergeet, selfopgelegde stilte, onbekende, verlies van kennis, verstrengeling, katastrofes, onderdrukkend

     

    (c) Prof Keith Dietrichs, Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University. 2015

     

    Grafen/Graven

    Grafen/Graven exhibition invite, 2015

     

    Group shows 2015: Ons 6

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    As part of the 2015 Stellenbosch University Woordfees, a group of jewellers from the Boland region of the Greater Cape Town area grouped together to showcase their latest jewellery creations under the title Ons Ses (Us Six) at the Lilly Friedlaender Gallery in Stellenbosch.

    The work was on show for 10 days and drew many, many local and international visitors – all marvelling at the variety of styles and the high degree of craftsmanship present.

     

    Ons Ses - Exhibition poster

    Ons Ses – Exhibition poster

     

    Ons Ses - The artists. (c) Ons Ses. 2015.

    Ons Ses – The artists. From left to right – back: Carine Terreblanche, Erica Du Plessis, Lilly Friedlaender, Angela Tölken. From left to right – front: Hestelle Mare, Juria Le Roux. (c) Ons Ses. 2015.

     

    Group shows 2015: Precious Obsession – A contemporary jewellery pop-up event

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    On 5 March 2015 Precious Obsession, a group of talented and enthusiastic South African art jewellers, hosted their second pop-up event in the foyer of Brundyn Gallery, Cape Town. The event co-incided with Cape Town’s famous First Thursdays where access to participating galleries and musea is free of charge on the first Thursday night of every month (http://www.first-thursdays.co.za/).

    The pop-up event at Brundyn drew a large crowd of visitors, interacting with the artist jewellers, sipping wine and coffee, enjoying some artisan food and listening to the life band.

     

    Precious Obsession @ Brundyn

    Precious Obsession @ Brundyn

     

    Precious Obsession @ Brundyn. (c) Precious Obsession 2015.

    Precious Obsession @ Brundyn. (c) Precious Obsession 2015.

     

    To follow Precious Obsession on Facebook, visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Precious-Obsession/694939710584293 

    Us 16 – A short outline of the key ideas behind the ‘Us 16′ body of work

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    Us 16

    The body of work around Us 16 centres on the notion of community. Within any community such as a family, circle of friends, or team of any kind, there is usually a common denominator, some shared biology, topography, value, interest, background, experience, aim, skill, context or philosophy which acts as a binding agent between or common denominator for the individuals making up the group. This common denominator frequently influences what type of individual fits into the company, and whilst an individual’s behaviour is either explicitly or subconsciously shaped by the specifics of the group, the individual also influences the fabric of the group as a whole in turn. The dynamic within any community is consequently a complex synergy, shaped by both the bigger unit and the individual.

    Despite the bigger web of dynamics, however, each member of a group is still a distinct individual with a specific personality, background, opinion, set of skills, and strengths and weaknesses[1]. This microcosm often influences or even determines the various roles individuals can assume within a group, and it plays a role in the dynamic and nature of one-on-one interactions with other group members, resulting in a wide array of possible intra-personal forces. A group’s diversity and richness, but also its tensions and occasional discord stem (in part) from the basis that group members in the end are relatively autonomous and complex entities.

    Bringing these notions into the specific body of work, it becomes apparent that the 16 pieces form a little community which is grounded on various common denominators: all pieces are rings, all have been fly-pressed in terms of their production technique and they are all based on a coherent, singular design approach making use of formal elements such as ovals and widening tubular shapes. Visually the design methodology plays with colour, density, dimensionality and tensions between flowing forms and clean, sharp edges.

    Seen as a whole, the collection of rings assumes a strong presence without negating the uniqueness of the individual pieces. Similar to human members within a group, each ring has a different character, determined by strengths and weaknesses, colour, detail and relative boldness. Also like with individuals in any group, there are those which are more accessible and those which cannot be summed up after a first glance; there are those which are highly likable and those of which one is perhaps not quite sure or convinced. Furthermore, each ring strikes up a different interaction with its neighbours, depending on who those are, resulting in a wide range of possible sub-dynamics within the overall collection. Ultimately, however, the collection of rings is bigger than the mere sum of its constituents in isolation, a trait which is arguably the most enigmatic of any group.




    [1] Of these elements, personality is arguably the most influential one. One of many approaches to the understanding and classification of personalities was developed by Isabel Myers-Briggs & Katherine Briggs. The Myers-Briggs personality type indicator is founded on Jung’s theory of personality types, seeking to group personalities according to perception (ways of becoming aware of things internal & external) and judgement (ways of reaching conclusions about the gained perceptions). Differentiating between introversion and extraversion, sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling, as well as judging and perceiving, the Myers-Briggs approach differentiates between 16 basic personality types, which ties in neatly with the chosen focus for Us 16 (http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/home.htm?bhcp=1 – accessed 26 May 2015). 

     

    Celestial adornment – art jewellery piece cited in Metalsmith article

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    In the June 2015 edition of Metalsmith, a well-known USA-based print- and e-publication dedicated to metalsmithing and jewellery making, freelance writer Leslie Jordan Clary presents a collection of images from jewellery pieces which have some direct or indirect relation to her topic ‘celestial adornment’. 

    11 Artist jeweller’s were approached for a specific image, among them my brooch “Momentary Unison”. Metalsmith Magazine, June 2015, Vol 35, No 3, p 20 – 23:

    Metalsmith article June 2015_35-3

    Contemporary art jewellery now on show at The Oculus, Cape Town

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    The Oculus, an upmarket eye-wear shop on the corner of Strand and Chiappini Streets, Cape Town is now also showcasing contemporary South African art jewellery as curated by Precious Obsession, a recent collaborative which also staged a pop-up event at Truth Cafe on 20 November.

     

    Quoted from The Oculus Facebook Page:

    Here at The Oculus, we believe that contemporary jewellery art is something that needs to be promoted in South Africa since it is such a unique platform. Creating artistic statements within the sphere of ‘jewellery design’ allows for connotations of wealth, rarity, value and also the relationship with the wearer and the body to be used in interesting and experimental ways and also contested with subjective artistic commentary. One could say that specifically South African artists have so much to comment about this country’s different traditions, perceptions of value and the variety of cultures, as well as its rich history in the role of provider of raw materials for the fine jewellery industry and the controversy surrounding it. The Oculus is proud to showcase PRECIOUS OBSESSION. Watch this space…
    Photo: Here at The Oculus, we believe that contemporary jewellery art is something that needs to be promoted in South Africa since it is such a unique platform. Creating artistic statements within the sphere of 'jewellery design' allows for connotations of wealth, rarity, value and also the relationship with the wearer and the body to be used in interesting and experimental ways and also contested with subjective artistic commentary. One could say that specifically South African artists have so much to comment about this country's different traditions, perceptions of value and the variety of cultures, as well as its rich history in the role of provider of raw materials for the fine jewellery industry and the controversy surrounding it. The Oculus is proud to showcase PRECIOUS OBSESSION. Watch this space...

    Group shows 2014: Precious Obsession – A contemporary jewellery pop-up event

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    Three trained artist jewellers from Cape Town teamed together to stage the first ever pop-up event to showcase contemporary South African art jewellery at Truth Cafe in Buitenkant Street, Cape Town, on 20 November 2014.

    Aiming to build awareness and recognition for this niche genre of art, the Precious Obsession event provided a relaxed and sociable atmosphere for visitors to engage with the 20 selected artists and their work, learning about the various defining aspects of contemporary art jewellery (such as conceptual content, critical commentary on numerous matters and artistic expression).

    The evening drew a big crowd and proved enough of a success to merit further renditions in the near future.

     

     

    Precious Obsession Information Poster. (c) Precious Obsession, November 2014

    Precious Obsession Information Poster. (c) Precious Obsession, November 2014

     

    Truth Cafe, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town during the Precious Obsession pop-up event on 20 November 2014. Photo: Ms Kruger

    Truth Cafe, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town during the Precious Obsession pop-up event on 20 November 2014. Photo: Ms Kruger

     

    Exhibition detail at Truth Cafe, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town during the Precious Obsession pop-up event on 20 November 2014. Photo: Ms Kruger

    Exhibition detail at Truth Cafe, Buitenkant Street, Cape Town during the Precious Obsession pop-up event on 20 November 2014. Photo: Ms Kruger

     

     

    Group shows 2014: 55 Artists / Necklaces

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    Liz Loubser Gallery and Tinsel collaborated in staging a group exhibition of contemporary art jewellery in Risidale, Johannesburg, in November this year. The exhibition with the title 55 Artists / Necklaces showcased 55 unique, hand-made neck-pieces from 55 different art jewellers from around South Africa. All of the pieces were shown for the first time ever.

    The opening event on 8 November drew many visitors to the skillfully curated show.

    55 Artists / Necklaces - exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    55 Artists / Necklaces – exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    55 Artists / Necklaces - exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    55 Artists / Necklaces – exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    55 Artists / Necklaces - exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    55 Artists / Necklaces – exhibition detail, November 2014. Photo: Liz Loubser Gallery/Tinsel

    Group shows 2014: Between the Lines in Johannesburg

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    The last iteration of Between the Lines went on show at Liz Loubser Gallery in Risidale, Johannesburg on 23 August 2014. The opening was a lavish event, and the work was well received with lots and lots of positive comments from visitors. Beautifully displayed, the show ended on 5 September.

     

    Display of Between the Lines, Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display of Between the Lines, Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing AnGela's work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing AnGela’s work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing Maike's work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing Maike’s work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing AnGela's work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Display detail showing AnGela’s work. Liz Loubser Gallery, August 2014. Image: Liz Loubser Gallery

    Earrings feature in fashion shoot

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    Fashion photographer Marguerite Oelofse and Berlin-based stylist Julius Forgo teamed together earlier this year for some shooting in Cape Town. Some of my pieces were selected to accompany various shoots, and one image made it into the official release on the Superior Mag online platform in August this year:

    http://www.superior-mag.com/2014/magazine-photography-fashion-editorial-marguerite-oelofse-dunes-valley/

     

    Group shows 2014: Between the Lines in Windhoek, Namibia

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    The Fine Ounce Collective presented its first international show at the Omba Gallery in Windhoek, Namibia, running from 30 June to 9 July 2014. The venue (a beautifully restored and rustic industrial warehouse) was aptly suited to present the 120 pieces on display – all relating specifically to the theme Between the Lines. The exhibition drew many, many visitors (including the wife of the German ambassador to Namibia) and resulted in quite an interest from various media houses. Two of the Fine Ounce members (Frieda Lühl and Angela Tölken) gave 3 radio interviews between the two of them, one of them an hour long at the German radio station.
    Newspapers also brought some clippings, and Angela was featured in a longer expose in the German daily newspaper:

    Article from Die Republikein, 3 July 2014

     

    Article from Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 July 2014

     

    Full page expose on Angela Tölken. Header from the article, Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 July 2014

     

    Body text from the expose, Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 July 2014


    The show in Windhoek has been the most successful Fine Ounce exhibition yet, and it is scheduled to travel to Johannesburg where it will be on display at the Liz Loubser Gallery from 23 August to early September. For the Fine Ounce fans in Gauteng this will be an unique opportunity to view the widely varied, once-off pieces from the 8 members of the collective.

    Recent Fine Ounce group exhibitions gather media presence

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    The two recent exhibitions of the Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective gathered quite some media presence.

    The first of the two shows, held at Imbizo Gallery in Durban, constituted a mixed group presentation and Fine Ounce participated with various pieces. The opening was quite an event with a lavish evening, including a fashion show. The show ended on 31 July 2014.

    Article from Life and Lifestyle



    The second show was a solo show by the Collective at the Omba Gallery in Windhoek, Namibia, running from 30 June to 9 July 2014. The venue (a beautifully restored and rustic industrial warehouse) was aptly suited to present the 120 pieces on display – all relating specifically to the theme Between the Lines. The exhibition drew many, many visitors (including the wife of the German ambassador to Namibia) and resulted in quite an interest from various media houses. Two of the Fine Ounce members (Frieda Lühl and Angela Tölken) gave 3 radio interviews between the two of them, one of them an hour long at the German radio station.
    Newspapers also brought some clippings, and Angela was featured in a longer expose in the German daily newspaper.


    Article from the Afrikaans Daily, Die Republikein, 3 July 2014

     

    Article from German Daily, Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 4 July 2014

     

     
    Full page expose on Angela Tölken. Header from the article, Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 July 2014

     

    Body text from the expose, Die Allgemeine Zeitung, 18 July 2014


    The show in Windhoek has been the most successful Fine Ounce exhibition yet, and it is scheduled to travel to Johannesburg where it will be on display at the Liz Loubser Gallery from 23 August to early September. For the Fine Ounce fans in Gauteng this will be an unique opportunity to view the widely varied, once-off pieces from the 8 members of the collective.

    The words we use become the homes we live in – Artist’s statement pertaining to the series Between the Lines

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    As an avid reader and a keen, yet critical listener I have for quite some time been aware that words and phrases have an effect on my emotions and psyche, especially when originating from lyrics and literature. Only fairly recently, however, have I come to realize that everyday words relating to myself (irrespective of whether they originate from myself or from others), have a profound (long-term) impact on my Self. Put differently: I have come to believe that the effects of words incrementally amalgamate into a house or home for the psyche.

    A house, usually understood as a three-dimensional structure enclosing and structuring space, essentially constitutes a protective and enabling shelter for its occupants. In order to transform the mere structure into an abode for living in, a house’s inhabitants usually leave a personalized imprint on it, be it through practical and / or decorative means, consequently giving meaning and purpose to an otherwise empty shell. By doing so, the occupants of a house inevitably represent and express themselves. A home, either as a specific arrangement of rooms or simply as a particular place / space, can thus be understood as a room for and a room of the Self, — a space which empowers the Self whilst at the same time mirroring the Self in various ways. Since the Self is affected by its physical surroundings as much as it shapes that very environment, a complex inter-relation ensues.

    The concept of an inter-relation between the Self and its surroundings can be extended to the realm of the psyche. Words relating or referring to the Self have an impact on it which I believe solidify into a specific frame-of-mind over time, subsequently influencing the beliefs, actions and vocabulary employed by the Self. The effects of words thus amalgamate into a structure around the psyche, and thus by extension into a house / home1.

    Throughout the body of work presented as part of the Between the Lines series, the house constitutes the main visual element, representing a “contour around an interior”2. As a shape, the house has retained key archetypal elements such as windows and / or doors and containing walls. Nonetheless it can be interpreted on various different levels: as an architectural study, a 3-dimensional exploration of structure, an interplay of surfaces and spaces, a container of memory or as a symbol of home, self, family and inter-personal experiences where walls enclose either lovingly and protecting, or threatening and debilitating3.

    As small objects the houses dwell on detail, and they are not overtly demanding attention. As such they reflect the private and the hidden of everyday existence4. Their purpose is to facilitate the representation and

    “(…) interpretation of the closest, the concrete, the everyday. For in the proximate, the daily, the apparently small, there is hidden (…) the metaphysical; the here-and-now is the place where meaning is disclosed, where our existence must find interpretation, if it can find interpretation at all. That is what dwelling, or the space of dwelling, is: something proximate, daily, apparently small (…)”5.

    Not only do the houses or dwellings advance the interpretations of everyday, private experiences, but also a process of coming-to-terms-with, acceptance and closure. Since being construed as pieces of jewellery (meant to be worn on bodies moving through different environments and contexts), the houses, however, also cut across “the dividing lines between private and public, interior and exterior”6,mediating between inner and outer realities.

    The notion of words eventually forming a home for the psyche provides me with an apt visual vocabulary to explore various experiences with words relating to my Self, all the while trying to visually capture the deeper, more complex connotations of what is being ‘said’ between the lines and eventually effected. Whilst the auto-biographical nature of the subject matter is not without its challenges, it does tie in with my ever-present, underlying interest in jewellery as a means of self-portraiture.

     

    1 Words or a space, however, are not the only elements to constitute a home. Similarly to a home providing room for the Self in its various manifestations, so does the human body ‘provide room’ for the Self. The conceptual likeness between body and home allows for interesting parallels to be drawn, such as the strong visual correlation between the key elements of a human face (eyes and mouth within a frame), and the key Gestalt elements of a house (windows and a door within a frame). As with the home, the human body is inevitably utilized as a means of self-expression and its configuration has a marked influence on the Self and vice versa, again resulting in an inter-relation between the Self and that which surrounds it.

    2 Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.

    3 Ibid.

    4 Ibid.

    5 Paul Tillich quoted from Abercrombie, S. 1990. A philosophy of interior design. Oxford: Westview Press, in Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.

    6 Miniature art, in Veiteberg, J. (ed.). 2012. Konrad Mehus. Form follows fiction. Jewellery and objects. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers. p 75.

    Group shows 2014: Metaal met Taal

    , Exhibitions, Group Shows.

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    Six jewellers from Stellenbosch and surroundings presented a group show of jewellery at this year’s Stellenbosch Woordfees. The show was held at Lilly Friedlaender Gallery from 5 to 16 March.

    Every participating jeweller was free to interpret the theme Metaal met Taal  (metal and language) in whatever way, resulting in an interesting mix of literal and non-literal work.  Due to my more artistic and academic background I chose the non-literal interpretation route, exploring the rhythm, pattern, repetition of language, as well as the interplay between present and absent in language and meaning.

    Group shows 2014: Ethereal Material

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    From 28 February to 2 March 2014, staff members and post-graduate students of the Division for Creative Jewellery Design and Metal Techniques, Stellenbosch University, presented their latest art jewellery creations at the show Ethereal Material at the Cape Town International Design Indaba Expo. 

    Each of the 6 artist had a showcase on the floor, and the work shown was curated to work well in unison with the bigger whole. 

    The work on display, as well as the overall stand were extremely well received by local and international visitors, with lots of requests coming through for follow ups and further information.

     

    Ethereal Material - DI stand 2014

    Ethereal Material – Stand at the Design Indaba Expo 2014. Photo: Carine Terreblanche

    Ethereal Material - DI stand 2014 - AnGela

    AnGela’s and Carine Terreblanche’s showcases at Ethereal Material. Photo: Carine Terreblanche

     

     

    Metaal met Taal – Group show to coincide with the Stellenbosch Woordfees

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    Six jewellers from Stellenbosch and surroundings presented a group show of jewellery at this year’s Stellenbosch Woordfees. The show was held at Lilly Friedlaender Gallery from 5 to 16 March.

    Every participating jeweller was free to interpret the theme Metaal met Taal  (metal and language) in whatever way, resulting in an interesting mix of literal and non-literal work.  Jewellers from a more artistic and academic background chose the non-literal interpretation route, playing with language in titles in the case of Carine Terreblanche, or exploring the rhythm, pattern, repetition of language, as well as the interplay between the present and the absent in my case.

    Ethereal Material – Group Show at the Design Indaba Expo 2014

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    From 28 February to 2 March 2014, staff members and post-graduate students of the Division for Creative Jewellery Design and Metal Techniques, Stellenbosch University, presented their latest art jewellery creations at the show Ethereal Material at the Cape Town International Design Indaba Expo. 

    Each of the 6 artist had a showcase on the floor, and the work shown was curated to work well in unison with the bigger whole. 

    The work on display, as well as the overall stand were extremely well received by local and international visitors, with lots of requests coming through for follow ups and further information.

    Ethereal Material - DI stand 2014

    Ethereal Material – Stand at the Design Indaba Expo 2014. Photo: Carine Terreblanche

    Ethereal Material - DI stand 2014 - AnGela

    AnGela’s and Carine Terreblanche’s showcases at Ethereal Material. Photo: Carine Terreblanche

    US DI stand 2014

    Graphic background to the stand. (c) Chantal Curtis, Tinkerdesign

     

    2013 Beijing International Jewelry Art Exhibition – first international group show for AnGela

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    It was with much excitement that I received the news that I had been invited to participate in the 2013 Beijing International Jewelry Art Exhibition. The show was organized by the Beijing International Design Week Organizing Committee and represented 329 jewellery artist from around the world.

    The exhibition was staged in the Chinese Millenium Monument, Beijing, was officially opened on the 24th of September 2013 and ran until 12 October. Each participant received a complimentary 240 page, full colour exhibition catalogue.

    2013 Beijing International Jewelry Art Exhibition – first international group show

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    In August 2013 I received news that some of my recent pieces were invited to the 2013 Beijing International Jewelry Art Exhibition. The show, which constitutes my first international group show, was organized by the Beijing International Design Week Organizing Committee and represented 329 jewellery artist from around the world, of which 2 came from South Africa.

    The exhibition was staged in the Chinese Millenium Monument, Beijing, was officially opened on the 24th of September 2013 and ran until 12 October. Each participant received a complimentary 240 page, full colour exhibition catalogue.

    More details can be found under: http://www.futuredesign.cn/

    Between the Lines – Gold of Africa Museum

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    The Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective hosted its first 2013/14 show under the theme “Between the Lines” at the Gold of Africa Museum in Cape Town. The exhibition was opened to much acclaim by John Skotnes on the 3rd of October 2013, and remained open for two weeks.

    As is characteristic for the Collective, the work on display was of a high standard and reflected the widely diverging personalities and approaches of the 8 members of the Collective.

    The show will travel to Durban, Windhoek (Namibia) and Johannesburg in 2014.

    Between the Lines exhibition

    The concept was carried through into the actual display with wooden frames suspended in a grid-like fashion. (c) Mathias Tölken 2013

    Between the Lines exhibition detail

    Detail of the suspended wooden frames with jewellery pieces arranged within them. (c) Mathias Tölken 2013

    Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective prepares for new exhibition series

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    Building on the success of the previous two exhibition series, the Fine Ounce Collective is currently hard at work to prepare for the 2013/14 season. The new theme ‘Between the Lines’ leaves ample room for personal interpretation and presents some interesting display opportunities.

    The series of travelling exhibitions is still to be finalized, but locations confirmed at present are the Gold of Africa Museum and Kalk Bay Modern in Cape Town, and Liz Loubser Gallery in Johannesburg. The collective is also negotiating with venues in Durban, Windhoek and Franschhoek. 

    Big milestone achieved – portfolio published on Klimt 02

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    In June this year I reached a major milestone in terms of having my art jewellery represented on an international platform: Klimt 02. Klimt 02 is a Barcelona-based gallery and the leading international forum for art jewellers, galleries dedicated to art jewellery and schools specializing in art jewellery. The content on Klimt 02 is professionally edited and represents an accurate snap shot of the international scene at any given moment.

    The listing on Klimt 02 already resulted in invitations to two exhibitions, one in London and one in Beijing. The latter has been accepted by me and I am currently arranging the necessary logistics.

    Breath of Fire – Rust-en-Vrede

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    On 21 May 2013 Hennie Meyer, accomplished South African pottery artist, opened the last leg of the Breath of Fire exhibition series at the Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery in Durbanville. 

    The show revealed the maturity of the approach and work of the Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective in its precision, simplicity and effectiveness. As with the preceding exhibitions the (new) work on display was well received by a wide audience.

    Rust-en-Vrede opening

    Rust-en-Vrede opening. (c) Mathias Tölken

    Rust-en-Vrede opening

    Rust-en-Vrede opening. (c) Mathias Tölken

    Rust-en-Vrede opening

    Rust-en-Vrede opening. (c) Mathias Tölken

    Rust-en-Vrede opening

    Rust-en-Vrede opening. (c) Mathias Tölken

     

    Value as currency, or the currency of value

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    As an artist- or author jeweller and part-time academic I am very interested in the complex notions of value within the field of contemporary jewellery, mainly because I often find my own understanding, thinking and beliefs around value to be at odds with those who encounter and/or engage with my jewellery or contemporary jewellery in general1.

    From its earliest beginnings, jewellery served multiple purposes for both the wearer and his/her bigger society. Items of personal adornment reflected personal aesthetic choices, symbolized personal and/or social status, represented ritual significance and (notably in Africa, China and the south Pacific) occasionally acted as a type of currency (Lignel, B. 2010. Now and never: the currency of contemporary jewellery, p 252). Also from its earliest existence, personal adornment manifested itself in a multitude of materials such as shells, wood, horns, teeth, bones, metals, stones and found objects. The harder it was to obtain a certain material, or the more skill and craftsmanship went into its transformation, the higher the object was prized as a result of its increased perceived value. The determining principles of ‘value’ thus not only seem to have rested on the material and quality of the object in question, but also on its diverse social, political, economic and cultural significances – a phenomenon which has not changed to this present day.

    “In thinking about currency and [applied] art3 one immediately hits issues like value, price, reliability, confidence, agreement [and] verifiability. (…) What is it we rely on just at the moment the price is fixed: On fashion? On Zeitgeist? On taste? Who fixes the rate?” (Dewald, G. 2010. Currencies and valencies, p 174). Dewald raises a few pertinent questions in terms of value from the buyer’s side, but what about value as perceived by the artist? As a contemporary jeweller, for instance, I attach more value to concept, self-reflexivity5, novelty, technical skill, manual labour, emotional and physical investment, self expression and personal authenticity than I do to the market and/or perceived value of gemstones and precious metals, mass production, (brand) image and socio-commercial (aesthetic) preconceptions surrounding jewellery.

    Whilst the above is a comfortable ‘justification’ for my perception of value in relation to my own work, it is not at all without its problems. Firstly, it usually puts me in opposition to the buyer’s beliefs, often translating into a fairly irrevocable lack of common ground6. Secondly, where does it leave the highly prized act of self-reflexivity?

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘currency’ as “the fact or quality of being current, prevalent, or generally reported and accepted among mankind” (Lignel, B. 2010. Now and never: the currency of contemporary jewellery, p 257). Whilst the value of an object supposedly grows with increasing rarity of the object in question, the latter does need to be “effective as a cultural phenomenon”, or possess some “cultural relevance” before it can be widely associated with value in the first place (Lignel, B. 2010. Now and never: the currency of contemporary jewellery, p 258). The interaction between contemporary jewellery and culture can perhaps be expressed by the following graph:

    The relation between art jewellery, culture and commercial jewellery

    Currently, contemporary jewellery is mostly found on the extreme side of the art axis and is often understood as an insular “fringe culture”, a rather legitimate classification which stems directly (and amongst others) from the field’s practitioners’ belief systems surrounding value, including my own. Contemporary jewellers often seem to stand in their own way when it comes to gaining cultural prevalence or currency for their work, and thus when it comes to finding common ground with a wider audience when it comes to value.

    One way in which the field of contemporary jewellery negates its own cultural prevalence is by forming a small, inwardly-focused, tightly-knit community of like-minded individuals. Very few “uninitiated” individuals are aware of and familiar with the concept of contemporary jewellery, not even to mention its objectives, aspirations, challenges, means, practices and thought-leaders. A second method for self-exclusion can be found in the prevalent practical outcomes of putting concept and self-expression first and foremost: contemporary jewellery pieces are often not wearable. Rather, they form a “class of objects that are non-functional yet body-related, poised between the social and the intimate” (Lignel, B. 2010. Now and never: the currency of contemporary jewellery, p 279).

    Due to the limited scope of this text it will have to suffice to allude to a probable remedy for the dilemma mentioned above: Contemporary jewellers perhaps will have to find a careful balance between their own (academic) value system, and the (cultural) value system of the wider audience they ultimately wish to access. By consciously embracing the current impasse as a challenge, artist jewellers might rise to the occasion and take their field’s richness and potential into a more cultural domain without contradicting themselves, thus maybe achieving more in terms of challenging the (stifling) preconceptions, assumptions and belief systems often associated with conventional jewellery.

    Gabriel Craig, a Detroit based metal smith, writer and activist suggests along similar lines that by being self-critical, and at the same time deliberately approaching and engaging a wider non-specialized audience, artist jewellers might find a way forward. Becoming increasingly frustrated with the insular nature of contemporary jewellery, Craig poignantly reacts to the field’s impasse, whilst at the same time eloquently summarizing its core constituents in a performance piece as part of his Narcissist series (http://gabrielcraigmetalsmith.com/index.php/project/narcissist/ [26/02/2013]). Perhaps this tongue-and-cheek presentation can open up new ways and means to prevent contemporary jewellery from becoming relevant only to its makers: http://vimeo.com/31733576

     

    1. ‘Contemporary jewellery’ refers to individual, often conceptual and/or provocative pieces conceived and created by non-commercial jewellers and/or studios. Contemporary jewellery usually bears little resemblance to high-end, street- or costume jewellery and seeks to establish its own distinctive niche. In terms of looking into the question of value and currency in relation to contemporary jewellery, I also need to point out that this short text by no means offers any definitive answers, nor does it represent the full extent of the matter to be discussed.

    2. In: Gaspar, M. & Dewald, G. (ed.). 2010. Currency – papers and exhibitions. Think Tank – A European initiative for the applied arts: Gmunden.

    3. ’Applied art’, a term increasingly used in Europe, refers to fields such as ceramics, textile design and jewellery.

    4. In: Gaspar, M. & Dewald, G. (ed.). 2010. Currency – papers and exhibitions. Think Tank – A European initiative for the applied arts: Gmunden.

    5. ’Self-reflexivity’ refers to the rigorous and very critical evaluation of one’s own beliefs and actions within the creative practice, and is especially prized within the academic realm of contemporary jewellery.

    6. The underlying assumptions here are twofold: Firstly, I presuppose that in most cases the wearing of jewellery is preceded by the procurement thereof. Secondly, I assume that all jewellers, author-, contemporary- or otherwise, ultimately create their pieces for another human being/body. Jewellery’s essence is fundamentally related to the body, meaning that the creation of jewellery which will not/is not/cannot be worn is ultimately a self-defeating exercise.

    7. In: Gaspar, M. & Dewald, G. (ed.). 2010. Currency – papers and exhibitions. Think Tank – A European initiative for the applied arts: Gmunden.

    8. In: Gaspar, M. & Dewald, G. (ed.). 2010. Currency – papers and exhibitions. Think Tank – A European initiative for the applied arts: Gmunden.

    9. In: Gaspar, M. & Dewald, G. (ed.). 2010. Currency – papers and exhibitions. Think Tank – A European initiative for the applied arts: Gmunden.

    Breath of Fire – is art

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    The second leg of the Breath of Fire exhibition series was held in Franschhoek at is art gallery, where the work was on display for two weeks – again to much praise and acclaim.  

    Breath of Fire at is art gallery. (C) Mathias Tölken 2012.

    Breath of Fire at is art gallery. (C) Mathias Tölken 2012.

     

    Breath of Fire at is art gallery. (C) Mathias Tölken 2012.

    Breath of Fire at is art gallery. (C) Mathias Tölken 2012.

    Breath of Fire – 30 on Roodebloem

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    To celebrate its second anniversary, the Fine Ounce Goldsmiths Collective launched its 2012/2013 exhibition series under the theme of “Breath of Fire”. The first show was held at the studio 30 on Roodebloem in Woodstock, where it ran very successfully for two weeks.

    The work on show was hand-crafted by all 8 participating jewellers, and displayed a wide variety of styles, materials and interpretations whilst simultaneously forming a coherent and stimulating whole.

     

    Exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Detail of exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Detail of exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Detail of exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Detail of exhibition set-up at 30 on Roodebloem. (C) Frieda Luhl 2012.

    Exhibition series to launch soon

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    As part of the Fine Ounce Collective, I will launch my latest work under the theme of “Breath on Fire”.

    The first of 5 exhibitions will open in the evening of 8 November at 30 on Roodebloem (Woodstock), Cape Town, where it will run until 22 November.

    The 2nd exhibition will open on Sunday 25 November at IS Art, at the heart of Le Quartier Francais in Franschoek. For the 3rd exhibition, the work will stay at IS Art, but will be incorporated into the annual Christmas fair.

    For the 4th show, we will participate at the International Design Indaba Expo at the CTICC in early 2013, where after we will turn our attention to Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery in Durbanville, where our show will run from 21 May to 13 June 2013.

    Be sure to visit the exhibition over the course of its travelling, for pieces will change as we go along.

    An investigation of roundness: Artist’s statement pertaining to the Breath of Fire series

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    Since the Fine Ounce Goldsmith Collective will launch its 2012/13 exhibition series (entitled Breath of Fire) with the first show at Merchants on Long on the 8th of November, I would like to share some of the thinking behind my body of work for the exhibition series.

    The underlying concept of my current work can be described as an ‘investigation of roundness’.

    On a conceptual level, the idea of a circle is most intriguing. A circle (which is mathematically defined as a “simple closed curve” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle)) divides a two-dimensional plane into an interior and an exterior, the latter arguably being defined by the positive space inside, and the former by the negative space around it. Depending on what each space is “filled with” or utilized for, an interesting play of tensions develops: The circle can either be interpreted as a hole (defined by what is not there, i.e. the removal, circumscription or non-existence of material), or as a disk, sphere or convex/concave lens (defined by what is there, i.e. the presence of material), or a ring (where the actual dividing line between negative and positive space harbours the matter or substance). Either possibility of interpreting a circle results in a rich array of further contemplations for me:

    Holes might become entry and exit points to something, perhaps allowing travel through time and space by means of a wormhole, or simply acting as a tunnel or funnel – guiding matter (or the absence thereof) between two end points. Since holes are defined by what is not there, they present an insubstantial presence of some sort, and therefore a wonderfully intriguing contradiction. Holes also act as interfaces, mediators and connectors, for they inevitably provide access to, reveal and incorporate what lies beneath, beyond or behind them.

    Disks, spheres or lenses on the other hand grow into the third dimension, and so have the ability to gain a life of their own. A suspended sphere, for example, can mutate into a drop until the precise moment in time when the original sphere is substituted by two smaller, separate spheres. Alternatively, spheres can harbour detail, surprises or even secrets, whilst semi-spheres become bowls or vessels, containing or spilling their contents.

    Circles, however, not only have a conceptual, mathematical, geometrical or material aspect to them, but also a symbolic one. As a symbol, the circle often has significant meaning attached to it.

    In Japanese, for example, the word for ‘circle’ is ‘Ensō’, which represents both a common object of Japanese calligraphy, as well as a concept strongly associated with Zen. As a Zen symbol the circle signifies absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe and the void (also called ‘Mu’ in Japanese, meaning negative (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_(negative))). In Zen Buddhist painting, ‘ensō’ is also understood as the moment when the mind is able to let go and simply allow the body/spirit to create. The Zen circle is usually brushed onto silk or rice paper in one flowing movement, expressing the movement of the spirit at that time. Zen Buddhists believe that “the character of the artist is fully exposed in how she or he draws an ‘ensō’. Only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ‘ensō’”. Some artists will practice drawing an ‘ensō’ daily, as a kind of spiritual practice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D).

    Some Buddhist artists paint an ‘ensō’ with an opening in the circle, whilst others complete it. For the former, the opening may express various ideas; such as that the ‘ensō’ is not separate, but rather a part of something greater or that imperfection is an essential and inherent aspect of existence. The principle of controlling the balance of composition through asymmetry and irregularity (i.e. the denial of perfection) is an important aspect of the Japanese aesthetic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D).

      

     

    Calligraphy by Kanjuro Shibata XX. Enso ca. 2000 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D).

     

    The notion of “denying perfection” in association with a circle (a potentially perfect entity) represents another intriguing apparent paradox for me.

    Circles, however, not only represent insight, grace and the universe such as for Zen Buddhists. As something elemental, circles also refer to strength, balance, regularity and rhythm, as well as to eternity, cyclic change, repetition and the recurrence or passing of time. Watches and clocks in the Western world are, for example, fitted with circular faces, hinting at the circular/cyclical passing of time, whilst the traditional Chinese calendar represents another example of cyclical time-passage marking.

         

     Two Chinese calendars with their two interacting cycles (the 12 animals of the Zodiac interacting with the 5 elements respectively) (http://www.infoplease.com/calendar/chinese-zodiac.html; http://www.china-family-adventure.com/chinese-zodiac.html; http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/01351/festive.htm).

     

    The symbolic content of a circle (i.e. its reference to enlightenment, elegance, mental/spiritual completeness, eternity, change and the passing of time), combined with the many conceptual notions named at the onset, result in the circle being a fascinating enigma for me. Many facets of both the symbolism and the conceptual content have found their way into a very experimental approach to my current work, consisting entirely of (ear)rings.

    On a formal and technical level I allow myself to be guided entirely by the truly endless number of interpretations and mutations of a basic circle, by the vast possibilities presented by materials, colours and their interplay, and by the resulting changes in the pieces’ expressive qualities. In every piece I play with repetition, contrasts, opposites and tensions in some way, often utilizing an element of surprise to engage the wearer/viewer. Lastly, my use of colour and titles is determined by associations with “fire” and “dragons”, playing on the subtle link between my pre-occupation with circles and the fact that we presently find ourselves in the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese calendar.

    Roundness series 1

    Investigating roundness I. Details from Breath of Fire series, 2012 by AnGela.

      

    Roundness series 2

    Investigating roundness II. Details from Breath of Fire series, 2012 by AnGela.

      

    Roundness series 3

    Investigating roundness III. Details from Breath of Fire series, 2012 by AnGela.

     

    A universal validity of jewellery?

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    One of the most important international events pertaining to contemporary jewellery is Schmuck, an annual, specially curated show coinciding with the International Trade Fair in Munich, Germany. Besides trying every year to have enough really innovative work on hand to apply for the show, I always look forward to the catalogues of Schmuck, for they are a rich source of stimulation and inspiration on various levels. The catalogue for 2012 proved no different.

    This year’s selection for Schmuck was made by Viennese jewellery collector Dr. Karl Bollmann, who mentions the following in his curatorial statement: “Anyone who thinks jewellery is essential, more than a reflection of vanity, elitism and exploitation, is bound to have doubts. Was Kant right to say that jewellery was detrimental to true beauty? Isn’t any attempt to embellish the personality a striving for false appearance? Can and should externals reflect the inward person?” The collector goes on to clarify: “I took on the task of making this [jewellery] selection because I wished to find out, perhaps one last time, whether jewellery that has substance, exists. If it did, it would express something of universal validity” (Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen).

    This got me thinking..… To me, the notion of a “universal validity” of jewellery, or then the possible lack thereof, is an interesting and challenging question, not least because I am a jeweller and like to think of my work as having some validity. When, why and to whom would jewellery be essential? What would “essential” mean in this context? Is jewellery, or any other form of adornment or embellishment, really only an attempt to falsify appearances, or is it an attempt to externalize something internal?

    Before attempting to formulate an opinion on the above, I should probably mention that I tend to engage with this question from the perspective of the maker or the artist, and not necessarily the wearer, for I do not generally wear jewellery. Why, you ask? Mostly out of habit – when working physically in a studio it is not practical to wear jewellery, and so, over the years, I have come to know myself as ‘unadorned’.

    Thus, from the perspective of the maker, I tend to agree with the following notion by influential artist jeweller Fritz Maierhofer: “is it not true that one of the origins of art lies in what we have trivialized as ‘self-adornment’, the first form of individualisation which brings us to maturity as complete beings?” (Koschatzky, G. & Aigner, C. (eds). 2006. Fritz Maierhofer – Jewellery and more! Stuttgart: Arnoldsche). Whilst I observe around me that wearing jewellery is a means to individualize and complete the Self, as an artist jeweller I strongly feel that creating jewellery makes me a more complete being. To me, creating jewellery is a means to investigate and reveal the internal structures and invisible dynamics of the Self and, perhaps more so, an attempt to communicate my existence as a human being in a sincere, truthful manner, which happens to be visual and tangible.

    Bollmann in a way echoes this notion of self-communication in his summary of the jewellery he was presented with: “everything was represented, everything that could be thought and felt, and that never ceases to be thought and felt around the world” (Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen). All of the pieces Bollman engaged with represented for him something that essentially spoke of being human, which referred to the intellectual and emotional capacities of human beings, two of the perhaps most defining attributes of being human.

    Every Schmuck artist communicated his/her existence as a human being through his/her work, and inevitably so, I believe. For in creating (which is always in some way related to making oneself vulnerable, exposing oneself), we bring our history, baggage, hopes, fears, thoughts, emotions, opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the table, consciously or not. We acknowledge, celebrate, question, interrogate, humour, encourage and portray what it means to be human. Even our choice of medium refers to something inherently human: by choosing jewellery as a means of expression, the body, or at the very least the presence of another being, is brought into the equation. By inviting, reaching out to or perhaps even relying on somebody else to partake and share in our creative expressions, we arguably reveal another essential aspect of being human, namely that we are not islands.

    Perhaps, then, it is safe to propose that as long as every creative is completely true to him/herself within his/her creative context – being courageous in the earliest sense of the word, namely ‘telling the story of who one is with one’s whole heart’ (Brown, B. 2010. TED Talk: The power of vulnerability [Online])- (s)he cannot but “pull the strings” of another human being; our creations cannot but gain some degree of universal validity. Does that then not give jewellery its essential quality, for both maker and wearer?

     

    “everything that could be thought and felt, and that never ceases to be thought and felt around the world”

     

    Kim Buck: “Pumpous II”. Ring/ring. 2011. Feingold, montiert, gepresst. Fine gold, assembly and pressure. 50x40x20mm. Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen, p 32.

    Shunho Cho: “Thorn (inside)”. Brosche/brooch. 2011. Silber, Holz, Acrylfarbe. Silver, wood, acrylic paint. 130x125x70mm. Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen, p 34.

    Ursula Guttmann: “Escapade”. Halsschmuck/necklace. 2010. Silikon/silicone. 700x350x10mm. Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen, p 39.

     

    Kazumi Nagano: “Brosche/brooch”. 2011. Bambus, Nylon, Gold. Bamboo, nylon, gold. 110x900x50mm. Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen, p 62.

    Carine Terreblanche: “Round and round”. Ring/ring. 2011. Holz, Email/wood, enamel. 60x60x20mm. Schmuck 2012. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen, p 82.

    Angela joins goldsmith collective

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    I am very excited and happy to announce that I was invited to join the Cape Town based Fine Ounce Goldsmiths’ Collective in May this year.

    The collective includes 8 independent jewellers, and has been operating since late 2011. As a group, Fine Ounce seeks to promote the art of handmade contemporary jewellery. The strength of the group lies in the combined skill, creative energy and diverse areas of specialisation of each individual jeweller. Fine Ounce seeks to raise awareness of the multi-faceted process of designing, creating and manufacturing unique jewellery, and to elevate the status of individually hand-crafted pieces over mass produced goods (http://www.fineouncegoldsmithcollective.blogspot.com/).

    Every week, one of the members publishes a short text on the group’s blog. The blog aims to introduce and familiarize readers with the wide and diverging aspects of the creative process, as well as allow them to glean a glimpse into the artist jewellers’ thinking and source of inspiration.

    The collective held a very successful travelling exhibition of 56 rings in 2011, and is currently busy finalizing a 2nd series of exhibitions in and around the Cape Metropole.

    Self – reflection, representation, expansion

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    The latest additions to my current body of work were presented in the form of  a fourth solo exhibition entitled Self – reflection, representation, expansion, at the Rust-en-Vrede Gallery of the Durbanville Cultural Society from 7 February to 1 March 2012.

    Jewellery as reflection

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    Being a rather academically and philosophically inclined person, I enjoy reading all kinds of written material on contemporary jewellery to engage and stimulate my own thinking about and writing on the subject matter.

    One of the most important international events pertaining to contemporary jewellery is Schmuck, an annual specially curated show coinciding with the International Trades Fair in Munich, Germany. Besides trying every year to have enough new work on hand to apply for the show, I always look forward to the catalogues of Schmuck, for they are a rich source of stimulation and inspiration on various levels.

    Over the recent two years a very noticeable shift has taken place within the realm of contemporary jewellery as subjectively represented by Schmuck: overtly conceptual, highly intellectualized content seems to become less prominent, whereas more emotional work (for lack of a better word), with a strong sense of beauty is becoming all the more prevalent.

    As Rüdiger Joppien, curator of Schmuck 2011 mentions in this statement, “jewellery has become an important segment of contemporary art to an extent unthinkable just a few decades ago. It combines design, aesthetics of materials, artisanry, experimentation, research, zeitgeist, worldview – in short there is hardly any other activity so suitable to reflecting the state of our world” (Schmuck 2011. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen. Page 9). If a less intellectualized approached to jewellery becomes apparent, what then does it reflect about “the state of the world”, and us as creators?

    I believe that the jewellery we make (and here I am specifically referring to that kind of jewellery which is created in total artistic freedom and independence of mind, i.e. not necessarily the often rather predetermined work we create for commissions) reflects in part the opportunities, multiplicity and complexity of the world around us, but even more so us as individuals. For many of us, creating jewellery is a means to engage with what it means to be a human being in this time and age – we bring our hopes, fears, thoughts, emotions, opinions, strengths and weaknesses to the table, consciously or not, and so attempt to deal with what we perceive around us: constant flux, increasing uncertainty & unpredictability, instability, decay. The decisions we make whilst creating a piece of jewellery, from choosing an idea or design to selecting the appropriate technique, material, colour, size and function all reveal something about us as individuals, and by implication about our view of the world and our place in it. As Fritz Maierhofer, a seminal European jewellery artist aptly put it: “My language – imagery – is formed from observations, reflections and experiences, and perhaps also from my longings and desires” (Koschatzky, G. & Aigner, C. (eds). 2006. Fritz Maierhofer – Jewellery and more! Stuttgart: Arnoldsche.)

    Perhaps then it is not surprising that jewellery artists from around the world gradually move towards a more feeling, expressive, moody aesthetic, often strongly connected to or associated with elements derived from nature. Generally, pieces concern themselves more with fragility and fragmentation (reflecting or referencing the external world), but also with positive human notions such as joy, memory, celebration, belonging, harmony and balance (perhaps counter-acting the realities of the external world). The fact that many of the pieces are characterized by “a return to careful craftsmanship” only accentuates the overall perception that there is a “rise of a new aesthetic concern” (Joppien, R. in Schmuck 2011. Munich: Gesellschaft für Handwerksmessen. Page 9) to which I certainly look forward.

     

    Photo: Angela Tölken

    Self [reflection] [representation] [expansion] – Artist’s statement

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    The complex process of expressing myself creatively is an intensely personal one and my works are strongly auto-biographical, albeit from hindsight. My jewellery inevitably refers to my personality and my context, acting as both a lens and a mirror – reflecting characteristics of my Self yet also acting as a window through which I discern hitherto unnoticed facets of my inner and outer reality.

    My strongly visual and tactile perception of the world around me is foregrounded in my current work. I do not set out with predefined, premeditated theoretical concepts, but rather design intuitively, allowing shapes/forms to freely emerge on paper. The subsequent development of such forms is solely determined by formal, aesthetic and technical considerations.

    As I translate chosen shapes into different materials, connotations and associations emerge which allow me to develop an understanding of what might have inspired that particular amalgamation of lines, colours and textures in space. It is thus only as forms evolve into three-dimensional objects that they start to suggest their own meaning, appearing to visually recollect, interpret, combine and express various of my sensory and emotive experiences. I work backwards, so to speak, or, in semiotic terms: I create signifiers (objects) based on formal and aesthetic considerations, which then slowly evolve into signifieds (concepts presented by the objects).

    It is through these visual and tactile interpretations of memories that I understand my work in terms of self-reflection, -representation and -expansion. The pieces are the clear result of my creative process and my methodology behind it, whilst they mirror my character traits, typify my Self and reference my past. Also, the pieces form a tangible analogy to my ever-present personal tendency to reflect, contemplate, wonder and philosophize. In a way, my pieces expand my cognitive and emotive activities – allowing my Self to spill into a tactile and visual space which allows me a fuller treatment and investigation of my on-going play with questions and answers.

    Whilst my work is neither as experimental nor as overtly conceptual as much of European, Asian and American contemporary jewellery currently is, it precisely captures today’s underlying notions of innovative art jewellery “[which] is strongly marked by emotions, personalities and gender, links between the old and the new, and also an emphasis on the aesthetics of materials” (Wolfgang Lösche, Head of Department for Fairs and Exhibitions, Handwerkskammer München und Oberbayern, in his preface to the catalogue of Schmuck 2010, Munich’s annual international competition and show for contemporary jewellery). My pieces are evocative, distinctly feminine and they reveal an express interest in the enormous formal and technical potential of metal. In using the here and now to recollect and interpret past moments, I connect past and present, creating something new from something old, yet with an inevitable reference to my African context.

     

    AnGela, October 2010

    Reflections of Self: Jewellery and chains of meaning. An independent essay accompanying the solo show ‘Self’.

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    We perceive the world in terms of language – indeed the entire process through which we make sense of experience, emotion and objects, are intrinsically bound to linguistic structures. It is not only that we give voice to thoughts and emotions through language, it is also the way by which we explain, categorise and understand our physical and metaphysical experiences and surroundings. As a result of the linguistic process, we are able to derive meaning to not only better understand the world in which we find ourselves, but also to identify and establish the locality of the ‘self’. Through this we are enabled to come to terms with and make sense of all that constitutes the vast concept of ‘self’. In this regard, a ‘process of placement’ marks the experience of ‘self’ as complex and limitless.

    A ‘process of placement’ is essentially a process of meaning-making, where meaning is obtained through our creation and interpretation of signs. By semiotic definition a sign consists of both signifier (the ‘form’ of the sign, be it a sensory perception or a material object) and signified (the concept the ‘form’ eventually represents). Signs make sense only in relation to one another, and what eventuates is a potentially eternal back and forth reflection of meaning within a limitless chain of signifiers. This relation between sensory perceptions and forms of meaning-making is of special significance to Angela Tölken’s work.

    The creative process of Tölken employs elements of the free associative method of psychoanalysis. Free association was initially used in aforementioned field to guide subjects in relating anything that came to their minds during an analytic session without censoring their thoughts. The use of this technique was intended to aid in discovering notions that the subjects developed in their unconscious minds.

    Contemporary psychoanalyst Christopher Bollas draws a direct comparison between psychoanalysis and the act of entering into an artist’s workplace. He views both practices as processes to which subjects can surrender themselves, and through which the subject’s notion of self can be articulated. Bollas acknowledges the influence of free association on creative expression and compares the artist’s expression to the wide range of human emotions that colours and changes the subject’s internal canvas. In the same way that free associative writing can provide signifiers of the unconscious sign systems, the artistic process can produce signifiers to aid in the intricate meaning-making process. In the context of Angela’s work, her final jewellery piece is the product of an entire chain of associations of which a series of sub-processes are the links – each one being a signified of the previous and a signifier of the next. In this series of free associations, each concept and its visual counterpart leave a trace in an ever-complex unconscious canvas.

    Tölken’s initial pencil-on-paper designs follow a free associative approach. Shapes and ideas flow unrestricted as reflections of her unconscious mind. Upon completing this step, she reworks these drawings on paper by adding colour and texture – once again relying on the associations called forth in the moment of creation. The next step involves a more controlled conceptualisation and elimination process, but even in this Angela tries to be led by the process and the designs themselves. They are then reworked on paper at least once more to add technical detail. After this, depending on the need of the design, she interprets some ideas three-dimensionally in paper. Through this process the models inevitably evolve through further interpretation. Only then will Tölken begin the manufacturing process in metal.

    Angela’s interpretation of the two-dimensional drawings or three-dimensional paper models remains loose and open to the influences of her unconscious. In Tölken’s own words: “Even though I have a specific idea regarding what I would like to achieve with a piece, I let myself be preceded and led by the piece i.e., I let it become what it wants to become – I merely give the piece what it needs.” The ‘origin’ of her entire expression (her unconscious mind) and the ‘end’ (her final piece) are central to her creative methodology.

    All pieces on exhibition are personal and intuitive relics of meaning originating somewhere deep within herself – directed towards this place as well as to each other. Angela’s artworks are the tangible jewellery pieces on display, but along with this are the invisible chains of meaning smithed in her unconscious.

     

    Marnell Kirsten – Jewellery designer and freelance researcher