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.

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