As gardens spring into life, contemporary floral jewellery is celebrated in thrilling Bloomin’ Jewels, a selling exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts (CCA).
‘I thought, let’s go crazy,’ says Christine Lalumia, the enthusiastic director of CAA, telling me how the exhibition came about. ‘What can we do to bring gardens to the fore?’ She explains that much current jewellery tends to veer towards more edgy, intellectual pieces and pretty floral pieces are dismissed as not very relevant and as a result the flower form in contemporary jewellery had withered. But as she observes ‘floral jewellery is often used for symbolism, a tradition stretching back for centuries brimming with cross cultural references.’ Christine was responsible for the fascinating exhibition ‘A Garden within Doors: Plants and Flowers in the Home’ at the Geffyre Museum in 2010.
Enlisting the help of renowned journalist Corinne Julius, an acknowledge authority on jewellery as guest curator, Christine drew up a short list of more than twenty jewellery makers asking them to create ideas for floral pieces using whatever medium they wanted. ‘We encouraged them to be cutting edge, pushing the boundaries with techniques and materials, looking at the theme in an unusual bouncy way.’ The results are spectacular and wildly different from each other both in materials and concept. None of the pieces are remotely predictable and in some cases quite challenging ‘but then contemporary jewellery is wearable art’ says Corinne Julius, adding ‘As far as we are aware there has not been an exhibition on botanical motifs in contemporary jewellery in the UK’. For anyone interested in jewellery and contemporary design it is a must. The pieces are whimsically displayed in glass cloches adding to the allure of the pieces.
‘The exhibition was a long time in gestation.’ The makers chosen to take part in Bloomin’ Jewels attended a study day at the Museum of London examining a selection of historic pieces of jewellery, learning about their history, the social context and how they were made. ‘Few of the makers had ever had this opportunity and they were fascinated. So too were the Museum’s curators, who learnt about the detailed construction of their treasures from practising jewellers,’ says Corinne Julius. Several of the makers became enamoured of jewellery ‘en tremblant’ – jewellery, set on tiny wire springs, that moves or quivers in response to the wearer’s breathing or expression of emotion. There are several intriguing pieces featuring this beguiling technique. Just imagine one’s heart going pitter patter with love jiggling the jewellery to tremble in tandem. It is whacky and amusing.
‘Bloomin’ Jewels is on until the 3rd of June.