20th July - 30th Sept 2007
'Wood You?'
Exciting new showcase of thirteen internationally
renowned jewellery artists working in wood.



Findings, Dec 2007 review of Wood You?
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FINDINGS - The Association for Contemporary Jewellery's quarterly newsletter.
December 2007

Wood You?
Kath Libbert Jewellery,
Salts Mill, Saltaire,
20 July - 30 September
Reviewed by Elizabeth Moignard

Wood is a material that often seems to occupy rather a modest place in the hierarchy of craft materials, and certainly in the jewellery food-chain, despite its inherent beauty, and the obvious talents of many artists and craftsmen who use it. All the better, then, to see a jewellery exhibition focusing on the use of wood, whose international contributors are taking their material seriously. And the results, supported by the artists' own statements and working notes, are a vigorous, varied, and outspoken manifesto for an interesting collection of messages.
Some of these deal explicitly with our relationships with the natural environment, others tell stories of emotional or historic adventures, yet others play with disconcerting the viewer via form and material. Julia Harrison's Lips brooches, very much in this last category, exploit the fleshy, tactile quality of her material, and display a sharp observation of the mouth as a medium of visual rather than verbal communication. Terhi Tolvanen is well known for her use of twigs to produce wearable think-pieces which reflect on man interacting with nature, often not for mutual benefit. Marielle Ledoux's brooches, constructed from a termite-eaten rafter, do the same for other fauna, but perhaps with a leaning towards natural process. Grace Girvan's driftwood, allied with silver and subtly dotted enamel, shows us a characteristic glimpse of a familiar landscape.
Ramon Puig Cuyas was showing us two different kinds of work, both using cork, rapidly becoming rarer and more endangered: the Archipelago series of brooches, using the cork as the framework for punctuated and glazed maps, think about the history and emotions of exploration, celestial and terrestrial. The Corpus Architectae group, sizeable carved and white-painted chunks of cork, speaks to me of our gradual loss of beautiful but outmoded materials. Katy Hackney's use of vintage formica is an interesting hint in that direction, but it is only one material in some brooches of striking modernist form and colour mixes which exploit the bamboo, silver, acetate and plywood which appear here too.
Beppe Kessler is well known as a maker who works across the boundaries of textiles, jewellery and painting; in this exhibition she uses burnt balsa wood and thread to create a colourful and delicately textured series of pieces, studded with pearls and crystal beads. Marie Uhlirova, Mette Jensen, and Yu-Chun Chen are all in some sense using wood where precious metal would be
the norm, to produce elegant and organic forms which exploit the natural behaviour of their chosen wood and subvert the expected. Stephanie Jendis' Kreuzberg ring subverts the use of precious stones too. Ulrich Reithofer's figurative sculptures seem only incidentally jewellery, with titles to focus attention on their historical and personal themes; Marianne Schliwinski's Voltino and Grandma's Bed series unite and contrast metal and wooden forms, one abstract, one apparently using pieces of an item of rococo furniture with a long memory.
Kath Libbert deserves our thanks for this timely exhibition; it speaks eloquently of a series of loving and informed relationships with a very special material, a concern for its survival, and respect for its history and ours.
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