15th July - 31st August 2004
'Material Girl'
A Celebration of
Jewellers working with textiles




Findings, September 2004, review of Material Girl

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FINDINGS- The Association for Contemporary Jewellery's quarterly newsletter.
September 2004

MATERIAL GIRL

A bright, tangerine-coloured felt dress hangs in space at the front of this exhibition at Kath Libbert's gallery in Saltaire, arresting the eye and teasing the palate in anticipation of more to come. Material Girl is a testament to the borderless area of jewellery and applied arts, showing the world for all its worth about diversity, talent and virtuous material handling.
I found myself drawn, through sheer colour and exuberance to the garden of delight offered by Karin Wagner; the dress for starters, made especially for the exhibition, was followed by a Babylonian collection of felted flowers, fabulous, fun and colour-rich as you might imagine Tanzania or Brazil to be, the places of her upbringing. Traditional felting techniques but in wire are also used by Tomasi, an intriguing German duo whom Kath discovered at Schmuck: "The fine metal threads barely resist the working hand" they write, "We are always on the brink between creation and destruction." Their work, though based on terrestrial influences, look like they have been grown in deep ocean beds, formed by moving currents and deposits of colourful, microscopic life.
Liverpool based Suzanne McCulloch takes us into the innocent world of childhood memories, using fragments of blankets, dyed wool and all things pastel and woolly. Remember hand knits, thick socks and woolly tights? You get the sensation straight away, except these neckpieces are, thankfully, not as scratchy. Similar feelings of distant past and Granny's cupboards came with Julie Arkell's work which carefully gathers "old buttons, fastenings, hidden words and lost feelings" which live in her studio long before they are made into three dimensional stories.
I was delighted to see the two Catalan artists again: Ana Hagopian creating colourful neckpieces using egg box material and scrim, edges left to fray slightly, as delicate as old lace around the neck and Sylvia Waltz, a Massana school classic. Sylvia is well known for her complex mixed media brooches but her new departure offers an intimacy we can all identify with: ''The pillow is place where you put your dreams. It is a white place between today and tomorrow". Minute fabric details on little pillow shapes, feather light, hold fragments of dreams. What continues to amaze me is the lengths to which artists go in the search of the right answer. Beppe Kassler, despite claims of having a love hate relationship with jewellery, shows us her peculiar style of sewn glass beads on balsa wood, a balance of weight and colour, heavily influenced by her surrounding landscape. The focus on material manipulation, so impressive in the present digital environment is clear evidence of persistent experimentation and I imagine laboratories industriously forging ahead in search of new technical expertise, making these artists fascinating research.
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