Saturday, 18 July 2015

Why is Contemporary Jewellery Getting Traditional Jewellers so Upset?

A while ago I was browsing social media, when a stunning piece of contemporary jewellery by Eunmi Chun is featured on a Crafts Magazine post. Hurrah! Finally, some well deserved press and promotion for my area of craft.

However, my joy does not last long. Unfortunately, this stunning piece that has been imagined, constructed and executed with such appreciation for the anatomy of a birds wing, is met with a huge amount of disdain by my fellow creatives and jewellers (albeit clearly not of the contemporary kind).

Eunmi 'Wing' brooch 2012.
Silver, parchment, hair, gold leaf.

Now the reason why so many are objecting to this piece is because of the materials it is made from and this has sadly taken away from its skilled fabrication and anatomic beauty.

The materials that are listed on said Facebook post are unfortunately the most shocking ones (cows intestines and human hair).
The exhibition is 'Not Too Precious' at the Ruthin Craft Centre, and the show is said in the post to be about jewellery, material and value.

Comments on Facebook post 18.06.2015

The comments underneath by other jewellers are scathing to say the least and condemning Eunmi Chun by saying "This is neither wearable or desirable and shows little or no skill in its making."

Well that is clearly not what the curators (Elizabeth Goring and Gregory Parsons) of 'Not Too Precious' thought when they were contemplating hundreds, if not thousands, of contemporary jewellers to be specially selected for this show.

In their own words: 
"Not Too Precious explores inspirational work by 25 international jewellers using materials for their expressive potential rather than for their intrinsic value. Radical artist jewellers of the late 1960s and 70s vigorously rejected the idea that jewellery should be considered ‘precious’ simply because of the materials of which it was made. Today, the use of a huge variety of materials in jewellery is far more accepted, but economic pressures are putting that freedom of artistic expression at potential risk as people revert to traditionally ‘valuable’ materials for ‘safety’.

 Not Too Precious challenges preconceptions about ‘non-precious’ materials by encouraging us to consider ‘accrued value': what talented makers bring to their work through their ideas and skill.

The selected artists, who currently work in the UK, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, create innovative, skilfully-made jewellery that is insightful and culturally resonant. Sometimes poignant, sometimes witty, their work communicates at many levels. It is above all honest and – for want of a better term – not too precious."

This piece by Eunmi Chan has also be shown at the renowned contemporary jewellery gallery ' Galerie Rob Koudijs' based in Amsterdam. 
Such a reputable gallery would not take on the work of someone with no skill, as these traditional jewellers are so naively exclaiming. 

I will just leave this quote from one of the most intelligent human beings of our time Stephan Hawking. 
Contemporary jewellers, your ability to adapt to new materials and concepts is what makes you and your work unique! 
Be sure to challenge the confrontation you may meet along the way, it encourages others to learn and grow with you.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Life of a Jeweller, 2014.

Wow, so a lot has happened over the last year!
and admittedly blogging wasn't a huge part of that..... but it is time to look back over 2014 and summarise parts of my last year.

I spent a lot of time working at Primavera and learning about all the amazingly talented makers that are housed in store, as well as selling my own work through the Cambridge based gallery.

I had a great time making a piece to be swapped in the Contemporary Jewellery Exchange with talented maker Gabrielle Desmarais. Click the link above to see the exchange.

As well as taking part in the Cambridge Open Studios in July at Primavera Gallery. This is where I launched a new range of work the 'Origins Collection'. These pieces all come from the same mould, the same origin, but warp and tear due to the high pressures used to form them.

The next jewellery adventure came in the fantastic form of becoming a member of the jewellery collective Fluxed Up. 
Jenny Gilbert, Hannah-May Chapman and I formed this collective as friends and fellow UCA graduates, to show our diverse work at events together.

Our first event as a collective was the East London Design Show a new platform for us to get our work out there and have a great time catching up and sharing our experiences since graduating.
After the mad Christmas rush was over, it was great to be contacted by Sara Preisler Gallery and have work featured in their 'New Life' exhibition in Birmingham.

All In all, a great year with different challenges and new beginnings! Very excited to see where the rest of 2015 will take me.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Happy 2014 :)

Well, I am glad to be starting this new year with a positive attitude to my exciting new jewellery adventures. 
I have just got myself a new studio space at the Cambridge Art Salon.
I will be using this space to reinvigorate my contemporary jewellery spirit, that has taken a back seat over the last year.

I will also be travelling to Australia, meeting up with some lovely contemporary jewellers I met at Schmuck over the years, and going to as many galleries along the way as my savings will take me!

I want to start this years blog with some work of jewellers that I greatly respect, looking at their work invigorates me to keep going with my jewellery making dreams.

Terhi Tolvanen

Terhi Tolvanen. - 2007  
Brooch - silver, aquamarine, ceramics, paint, textile

Terhi Tolvanen. -2013
Necklace (The Wave)- Mother of Pearl, cherry, cement, silver

Terhi Tolvanen.- 2006. 
Necklace (Mossy Blue) Wood, glass, textile, silver

Terhi Tolvanen.- 2013 
brooch; silver, pearls, cement

Viktoria M├╝nzker

Brooch "Far purple" 
 Driftwood, amethyst, metal granules, steel, woodstain, lacquer

Brooch "Spectral red" 
Driftwood, alpacca, glass granules, steel, glass, coral, woodstain

Brooch "Sluggish" 2012
Alginate, alpaca, silver, steel, citrine, metal granules, paint.

Brooch "Broken" 2012
Alginate, bronze, amethyst, steel, paint.

Hedda Bjerkeli

I really enjoy Hedda's neckpieces, I couldn't find the exact materials for each one. However, I know that they are a combination of resin, gemstones and silver. The stunning brooch below looks to be composed of copper, enamel, steel and thread. 

All of the pieces by these talented contemporary jewellers are so eye-catching. 
I think they become more interesting because the components are juxtaposed, which make me curious as to how they would feel, while also creating visual impact.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Etsy Beginnings.

I have started a shop on Etsy, as I love the site so much. I have bought various items from Etsy and I think its a great place to buy first hand from artists, craft people and even confectioners, as I found out recently!

They have a great main page that I always find something interesting to look at with its great colour schemes and seasonal themes. Its amazing to see the high quality of work available from makers, as well as the diversity of artistic disciplines.

Its a great site because you can favourite items, which gives encouragement to the artists even if you can't afford it. You can also save the shops you love and are updated when the artists add new items to their shop.

So here's the link for my shop Rhiannon Higgins Jewellery! I hope you enjoy it, I will update with more jewellery pieces when I make them.

Here's a great video below (that my friend Silke showed me, thanks!) that explains the ethos of Etsy really well, and how buying from makers on Etsy improves our sense of community. I feel that I have definitely experienced this on the site and I believe it is a step in the right direction for all makers.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Cambridge Open Studios 2013

I have just finished my first Cambridge Open Studios event and the commission's that I received from it. I had a great time meeting people and getting instant feedback from them, to see first-hand what people thought about my work.

I also met some great makers and had some very happy customers which is always a great bonus from holding an Open Studios event.

So I have a few pictures of my display, it was such good weather over July that I held my event outside in my lovely back garden.

I did sell one of my favourite pieces (below).

I also sold the necklace I had featured in the brochure (pictured below) and had a commission to make another just like it, which I sold yesterday.

So all in all the Cambridge Open Studios was a very positive experience which I would recommend to any artists contemplating it. 
Next year I will definitely have more work to show, especially earrings, they sold so well!

In other news, I am still working at Primavera Gallery in Cambridge and if you like reading about artists, I also write Primavera's blog. You can find out about some of the fantastic makers we represent here.
My work is also sold through the gallery now and I will hopefully be adding more to the collection very soon.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Ceramic Art London 2013

I had a great time visiting Ceramic Art London, there were many of my favourite ceramicists including Peter Hayes, Tony Laverick and Chris Keenan. It was a pleasure to view some of their new pieces and chat.

As well as my established favourites I encountered a new artist Myung Nam An, her work really appealed to my interest, the pieces she was displaying were like intricate adaptations of Ernst Haeckel's Radiolaria illustrations.

Here are some examples of Heackel's drawings:

You can read more about radiolaria and Ernst Haekel's discoveries here.

Once you see Myung Nam An's ceramics you may begin to see the resemblance and I think its amazing how she applies her pieces with such an amount of immense details.

The sheer skill needed for anyone to translate Haeckel's drawings into three-dimensional form successfully must, in my view, indicate that they are a true master of their craft.

Myung Nam An at her stand at Ceramic Art London 2013.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

My New Shed

I have just been given an amazing present by my family and have just had my shed renovated.
It was literally falling apart on the inside before and had asbestos in the roof, which made me reluctant to go in there.

Now it has been transformed into a beautiful workspace for me to develop more creative jewellery and finally test out the kiln I bought earlier this year.

So here is the new space:

Beautiful isn't it!!!

Now heres how I've clogged it up in 5 minute intervals.




Doesn't take me long to clutter but it is all incredibly useful stuff and I'm very excited to have this space.