Contemporary jewellery is a goldfield and a landmine Bridget Kennedy
For a person engaged in the field of contemporary jewellery, the word ‘jeweller’ causes all sorts of issues. Mention that you’re a jeweller at a party and anyone with a diamond that needs setting, or a necklace that needs restringing will come out of the woodwork, or you’ll hear about their latest beading party. Mention you’re a contemporary jeweller, and you nearly always find yourself needing to explain that you don’t make jewellery that most people think of as jewellery and then trying to explain what that means… sometimes this can end in awkward silences, particularly if you mention ideas like jewellery that decays during wearing, or insect parts. Meet someone who ‘gets it’, who knows of the few galleries in Australia representing Contemporary Jewellery, or CJ as our small community likes to call it, and it feels like you’ve found a new friend for life. My first awareness of contemporary jewellery really only came about as a result of inheriting three generations of beautiful, fascinating, and also sometimes ugly, jewellery just a few weeks after the birth of my first child. While rifling through my box of history, with all its associated memories – small charms collected by the previous owner as a child, heirlooms passed on to her from her parents, a Fijian coin, given to her by my father, (at least, that was the story I made up as to why it had stayed in her jewellery collection for over 50
years) – I began to understand the fundamental desire for humans to adorn themselves in one way or another. Two weeks later, the first day I left the house, I was burgled and it was all stolen. I had only previously known the typical high street, ‘traditional’ jewellery, which always seemed to be different versions of exactly the same thing, and I had never been particularly interested in adorning myself with these kinds of trinkets, so when the insurance company told me I had to replace the stolen items with newly bought replacements I was stumped. I decided to replace my lost jewels and memories with ones that I would make myself…….fast forward a few years, my love affair with CJ continues. Melanie Ihnen, a fellow jeweller, and myself, have opened Studio 20/17 and we’re about to celebrate our 5th birthday. We’re the only gallery in Sydney that is dedicated purely to exhibiting and representing jewellery artists and we’re proud of it! We both studied at The Design Centre in Enmore, and are always excited to see the fresh, new work being developed by students. Every year the students hold a fabulous exhibition at The Depot Gallery, (from 27/11/12 until the 1/12/12).
Published on Dec 13, 2012