17th July – 28th Sept 2008

Antique meets Contemporary

Power & Politics
‘‘Dishonest Pearls’ necklace by Laura Deakin - wood filler, synthetic pearl lustre, silk thread and pigment with Susan Rumfitt examining a Victorian pearl necklace with enamel and diamond clasp c1860

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About Us


A remarkable exhibition of contemporary and antique jewellery exploring the timeless themes of power and politics, life and death, laughter and love.

Power & Politics
Pearls are probably the earliest natural object to have been prized as gems: the Ancient Egyptians were buried with theirs; to the Romans they were the ultimate symbol of wealth and status; brave Knights wore pearls to protect them in battle; and during the Renaissance laws decreed that only the nobility were allowed to wear them! Now & Then celebrates both the beauty and the power of pearls with examples of gorgeous antique brooches and necklaces, alongside Australian designer Laura Deakin’s ‘Dishonest Pearls’ - half circles made from wood filler into which a pearl is pushed, then removed, leaving the lustre lining the ‘shell shaped’ beads - a contemporary re-working of the familiar.In ancient times, cameos - literally, a stone carved in relief - were used to display faith or loyalty to a monarch; the Romans wore them as amulets or charms and ‘Renaissance men’ wore them as hat badges to emphasise their power and wealth. Given as gifts by Elizabeth I, collected by Catherine the Great and a favourite of the Empress Josephine, cameos were especially popular amongst the Victorians. In contrast to examples of fine Victorian pearls and cameos, both traditional symbols of materialism and status, Now & Then presents contemporary pieces such as the large, carved ‘Lingam’ pendant by well-known Dutch jeweller Ruudt Peters; an entwined collection of five ‘stylised penises’, this work reflects the spiritual beliefs of Eastern cultures in which the ‘Lingam’ is worshipped in order to bring good life – rather than having the Western associations with sex, power and pornography. Traditional medals awarded for ‘services to King and country’ are shown alongside Danish designer Inger Larsen’s ‘Medals for Everyday Heroes and Heroines’ - she takes the classical cross, crown or star shapes and creates outsize humorous versions in white acrylic and coloured ribbons - medals which can be pinned to your chest, bestowed upon your own hero, or hung on your wall! Exhibits by Susan Matsche (‘War Kills’) and Emily Bullock (‘Peace Piece’) are on loan from the powerful ‘Anti-War Medals’ international touring exhibition curated in 2005 by one of the USA’s most prestigious jewellery galleries, San Francisco’s Velvet da Vinci. Some 200 works by artists from 16 countries represented their protest against the War in Iraq. The British Museum and the Imperial War Museum have both purchased pieces from the exhibition.The use of jewellery as a sign of protest is explored with ‘Suffragette Jewellery’, set with jewels such as amethysts, peridots, tourmalines, emeralds and pearls, reflecting the Sufragette movements symbolic colours of green, white and violet (said by some to stand for Give Women the Vote). A modern-day campaigner, Silke Spitzer, shows her collection of bold brooches made using fair traded ‘ethical’ gold, linoleum and wood, focusing on issues of sustainability.

Now & Then runs from 17th July to 28th September 2008. Salts Mill is open weekdays from 10am – 5.30pm and weekends 10am – 6pm. For further information call 01274 599790.

Artists taking part in Power & Politics are: Ruudt Peters; Laura Deakin; Inger Larsen; Silke Spitzer;
Anti-War Medals
by Susanne Matsche; Emily Bullock; Susanne Osborn.
Power & Politics Antique pieces. Other themes: Memento Mori; Sentiment & Sex; The Lighter Side.