Story in a Brooch

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I considered the colours of bruises and my previous sketches when burning and combining these neoprene forms. To find meaning in the forms, I wore them as brooches to find out what other people saw in them. This idea came from my research into narrative jewellery and place. Viewers applied their unique stories to the brooches- I can’t say this experiment has worked because I have only had about ten or so suggested meanings…

Social projects are hard, as you rely on others to help you get somewhere with your work and it does not always pay off. I found this experiment made the project stagnant, so I will now apply my own conceptual ideas to the pieces. First I want to add details that will make the appearance more grotesque and this could even subsequently make the works less practical for everyday wear.



In my module, Undiscovered Landscapes, we focus a lot on place and the characteristics that make something a ‘place’. Typically, place is considered a portion of space occupied by someone or something, but it is so much more than that. Memories, meaning and resonances make a space a place. All senses contribute to place. Wherever we go we take place with us, physically and mentally. Time is also connected to this. The experience of travelling within landscapes and spaces can be affected by the speed of the movement through the space, the amount of time spent in the space and also the time of day. Place is a point that one has reached and also a verb- to place something. Place can be something that’s lived and experienced bodily, it can be defined by all senses and qualities. Changes to a place can distort the feeling or memory that originally connected one to the place, for example darkness.

“One day my wife and I went hiking and we missed the last train by mistake. While patiently waiting for the first train at Takao Station at around midnight, I came up with an idea of climbing nearby Kusato Mountain. The utter darkness was really scary but it was very new to me. While walking, the day was gradually breaking. It was as if the scenery in a black-and-white film suddenly changed into a color film. It was like a bright red flower appeared. I was overwhelmed and couldn’t find words to describe it. I have never forgotten the sensation. I started walking in the dark to enjoy the complete darkness.”

 Walking in the Dark by Jun Nakano

I am very pleased to discern that place can be a spot on the body. As my practice is predominantly in making jewellery, this opens up many conceptual ideas that I can transform into tactile pieces. As I have stated previously- Jewellery is a vessel, a space that conveys meaning and experience. It is a portable story or metaphor and can therefore carry ‘place’ with it. Several different meanings will come from the one piece of jewellery depending on the wearer and the viewer- this could make for a great experiment!…

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

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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