An International Art Jewellery Exhibition Inspired by Nature
11th July - 29th Sept 2013

Findings: The Magazine of the Association For Contemporary Jewellery

Findings: The Magazine of the Association For Contemporary Jewellery
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About Us

Autumn 2013

Rachael Brame gets close to some wonderful works

Situated in the World Heritage Site of Saltaire is the Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, probably the most prominent gallery in the North of England for bringing contemporary art jewellery to public attention.

As a result of Kath's recent trip to Schmuck, 'Natural Histrionics'is an accumulation of international jewellery artists with works inspired by nature and organic materials. Her careful selective process made sure all work on display was distinctive, unique and responded to the theme in a variety of ways. Some of the most visually striking pieces on display were those from German jewellery artist, Stephanie Hensle, whose Fox Fur neckpiece stole the show. Processes usually used for mass production enabled thousands of etched and stamped brass segments to be painstakingly assembled to construct this one-off piece. Her 'The Catch' and 'Dead Bird' necklaces from the same collection were also presented and delivered the same level of accuracy and laborious workmanship that makes the collection so exquisite.

Alongside Stephanie was South Korean artist Hyorim Lee whose incredibly tactile leather pieces had my admiration. In delectable colour palettes, her feathered neckpieces and brooches made me feel as though I was sprouting wings! Jie Suns 'Big Fish' brooch made from hand carved wood and lacquer provoked a similar connection with the wearer, as it looks to swim into the body.

As well as the visual representations of nature, works inspired by natural materials were an opulent sensory experience. Anja Eichler's use of quail eggs, Konrad Laimer's goat horn and Susanne Elstner's charcoal jewellery reinforced my belief that unconventional materials can be just as, if not more, beautiful and imaginative than gemstones and precious metals.

Dorit Schubert with her mind-bogglingly intricate floral jewellery inspired by traditional German lace-making techniques had me in awe, as did the work of award-winning jewellery artist Nel Linssen with her superbly refined paper folding techniques.

The exceptionality of Kath's exhibitions is the way in which she makes art jewellery accessible and desirable to the general public, as well as collectors and enthusiasts. The 'Histrionics' part of the exhibition title is a clever play on words referencing the drama and theatrical element of the show; where the public is asked to try on a piece, and declaim their enthusiasm for it in a video compilation which is then played throughout. For me, this is such an important part of bringing contemporary jewellery to the wider audience, helping the public to overcome their reservations and connect to the work in a relaxed and humorous environment. Kath Libbert fully understands that art jewellery must be taken out from behind the glass and worn on the body to fully understand and appreciate the craftsmanship of the piece and design methodology of the maker.

Image caption: Stephanie Hensel, Fox Fur Necklace, 2012. Etched brass. Photo: Janusch Tschech

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.