5th July - 1st September 2002

An Exhibition of Calalan Jewellery
Part of an Exchange Project showing British work at
Hipotesi Gallery in Barcelona 13th June - 15th August '02

Findings, October 2002 review of 'Distinto-Distinct'

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About Us

The Association for Contemporary Jewellery's
quarterly newsletter

October 2002

Kath Libbert Jewellery, Bradford
4 July - 1 September 2002
The exhibition at Saltaire this summer was only half the story. The catalogue tells how the project began and opens with wonderful parallel illustrations of Hipotesi in Barcelona and Salts Mill in Bradford, two imposing buildings holding within them two distinctive jewellery galleries.
Both Kath Libbert and Maria Lluisa Samaranch, director of Hipotesi, chose 6 designers each, the idea being to exhibit the British jewellery in Barcelona and the Catalan work in Bradford simultaneously for approximately two months. The resulting exhibitions have been both inspiring and fascinating. Thanks to a grant from the British Crafts Council all the British designers were able to attend the opening of their work in Barcelona on 13 June. I was delighted to take up Kath's offer of joining them and to help out as interpreter. Hipotesi is an exceptional gallery led by Maria Lluisa Samaranch, who says "I do what I want here." The British work was given excellent exposure and offered some challenging ideas for the Catalan public to consider. I was drawn by the contrast in materials of Jo McAllister's pendant boxes of pure silver and 22ct. gold made by hammering using stones and hung on plain string. Equally intriguing was the use of precious metal clay in Christina Hirst's work, fired in a kiln to produce impossibly organic shapes in solid silver.
The British designers also had a wonderful opportunity of giving a presentation of their work at the Escola Massana. Hosted by the Head of Department and renowned jeweller Ramon Puig Cuyas, the event turned out to be a resounding success and an invaluable highlight, illustrating perfectly the cross-fertilization that Kath Libbert talks of in her catalogue. Dot Sim immersed us in atmospheric images of her Scottish environment to explain her minimalist style while Kathryn Marchbank spoke of music and rhythm at once giving life and reason to her vibrant pieces. Metal clay was handed around. The room, filled to capacity by the Spanish team of lecturers, designers and students and the British group, became a forum of information and excited points of view, exchanging ideas, comparing of institutions, philosophies.
Back in England on 4 July Kath Libbert opened her side of the exchange: six Catalan jewellers. The work from Barcelona tells many stories, conveys a more domestic background and engages you in a very different, colourful, eclectic world. Grego Garcia, using a real seahorse, photographs and mother-of-pearl, presents her pieces intimately in wooden boxes still bearing the sealing wax from their former days as postal containers. There was beautifully repousseed work from Carmen Amador, also a lecturer at the Escola Massana, whose delicate pieces were reminiscent of monocyles and circus paraphernalia. Bogota-born Milena Trujillo says "I need to see lots of people in the street at all times" and invites the viewer into open silver wire cages, inhabited by colourful little figures. By contrast the jewellery of Silvia Piva felt rich and deeply precious. She uses 18ct. gold to encase roses and generous bunches of oxydised silver wires for fabulously large pieces as well as the smaller containers she calls 'ofrendas' (offerings).
Funding from Yorkshire Arts enabled Silvia and Xavier Ines Monclus to come over to Bradford for the opening, run master-classes for ten local designer jewellers and offer presentations of their work. Surreal, with a sense of humour and inspired by the playful world of childhood, Xavier verges on the edge of being a toy designer. With cheeses on wheels and cats sitting on television sets, his work demands more than just an idle glance. The pieces are immaculately finished and made to last, as those of us who attended his workshop found out. I learned not to be fooled by the fun appearance of these strange inventions. Behind each piece lies much thought and dedication and a personality of great integrity that I was fascinated to meet. This highly successful exchange exhibition ended on 1 September. For those who couldn't make it to Barcelona, highlights of the British jewellery will be shown at Salts Mill through October. For details, call T: 01274 599790
Sarah O'Hana

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford BD18 3LA. Tel/Fax 01274 599790. For directions see About Us
Open Monday - Friday 10am - 5.30pm. Weekends 10am - 6pm. Email:info@kathlibbertjewellery.co.uk