Narrative Jewellery

The result of researching the Scottish jeweller Merlin Planterose has lead me to further investigate narrative jewellery. A great book, Maker Wear Viewer, by Jack Cunningham theorizes that this triangle of ‘maker, wearer, viewer’ generates a narrative. The maker has an intended narrative or concept during construction, the wearer and viewer will respond to the adornment, contributing their unique experiences and correlations to the narrative of the piece. People analyse and conclude what a piece of jewellery is about in relation to their own connections with the connotations of the imagery. The work’s meaning does not remain static. The wearer becomes an active participant in the narrative of the jewellery and they become a part of the image. Sentiment is a strong motivation to wear jewellery. The viewer will buy a piece of jewellery that connects them on some level. Cunningham said it comes down to the “familiarity with the components of the idiom” (p.IX).

Jack Cunningham, Maker Wearer Viewer, Scottish Contemporary Arts Council, 2005

Anna-Davern-The-Duke-of-DevonshireLoRes-1   Transplantation-cunnigham

Anna Davern, The Duke of Devonshire   Jack Cunningham, The Great Barrier (series)

Transplantation: A Sense Of Place And Culture is an exhibition of 12 contemporary jewellery artists from the United Kingdom and Australia, curated by Professor Norman Cherry. There is a shared history between these nations, which is made evident through the artists’ exploration into their own experiences of cultural, ancestral and artistic transplantation. Anna Davern’s work refers to the issues of colonisation. She has collaged images from old biscuit and confectionary tins, contributing to the historical element of the work. There is a story in the recycled tin, which highlights the British cultural intrusion onto Australia; the recycled tin playfully hinting the British pastime of enjoying tea and biscuits.

Transplantation: A Sense Of Place And Culture challenges perceptions of jewellery. The aim of the exhibition was to encourage viewers to see jewellery as not just an adornment to decorate oneself and match an outfit, or to project personality or status, but to expose it as a portable piece of art with a narrative, a history and a metaphor. Jewellery is a vessel, a space that carries meaning and experience.

Jo Bloxham, ed. Transplantation: A Sense Of Place And Culture. England: University of Lincoln, 2012


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