17th July – 28th Sept 2008

NOW & THEN
Antique meets Contemporary



www.digyorkshire.com July 2008
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digyorkshire
July, 2008

JEWELLERY’S HIDDEN LANGUAGE

Put together by Antiques Roadshow expert Susan Rumfitt and Kath Libbert, Now and Then emphasises jewellery’s role not just as luxury object but as symbol of something of far greater significance.
The nation may have enjoyed nearly 30 years’ worth of guffawing at the constipated responses of greedy heirloom-floggers to low valuations given them by the experts on the Antiques Roadshow, but are we as appreciative of antiques as we might be? Widely manufactured ceramic teapots are one thing – and it is a rare person that can truly appreciate those – but would we be more interested in, say, unique jewellery pieces if we knew a little more about them?

‘What we’re trying to bring out in this exhibition’ explains Harrogate-based Susan Rumfitt, a zephyr quietly blowing the cobwebs from the musty typecast of the antiques professional, ‘is why certain pieces of jewellery were or are worn, and what those pieces can symbolise, in that way broadening minds a little’.

‘Cameos’ she continues ‘were worn during the Renaissance very much as a symbol of wealth, and knights were known to wear natural pearls into battle, but jewellery was worn for other purposes, too, such as to signify betrothal or mourning’. Then jewellery isn’t just something for the elite and the elite only to appreciate? ‘No, and we want to show that. You can appreciate jewellery without having to buy it.’ Just as you can a painting or piece of sculpture.

Based around four key themes – Sentiment and Sex, Power and Politics, The Lighter Side and Memento Mori (death and mourning) - the exhibition at The Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery at Salts Mill, Saltaire includes pieces from 15 of the world’s very best contemporary makers - not least among them Adam Paxon, winner of the £30,000 2007 Jerwood Arts Prize for jewellery – and exquisite antique jewellery dating from 1800 to 1940.

Seductive or articulate in the language of love - with all its variables - Paxon’s bold organic forms worn in unusual ways communicate Sentiment and Sex. Georgian skull rings and more contemporary, playful pieces, such as Claudia Stebler's ‘Bury Your X’ brooch encapsulate the Memento Mori theme. The Lighter Side of Life is represented by, for instance, an 1890 diamond-set tie pin or by Felieke van der Leest’s whacky zoo animals in crotcheted clothing, and whereas Power is represented by the pearls that it was at during the Renaissance decreed only nobility could wear, Politics are given overt reference in anti-war medals loaned by one of the USA’s most prestigious jewellery galleries, Velvet da Vinci.

With talks delivered by the unfailingly affable Susan Rumfitt and Adam Paxon to further enrich it, this exhibition is sure to make most people think about jewellery in an entirely different way than they did before.

Rory ffoulkes



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