The role of photography in jewellery is symptomatic of the importance of visual imagery in today’s culture. A photographic image is easily transferable, and can be shared and presented through a range of internet sites, groups and organisations as well as in publishable formats such as books, magazines and business cards. The affective qualities evoked by a craft object can also be experienced in response to the craft image, indicating that an object’s narrative or meaning as constructed by the jeweller is not completed in the final coat of varnish or the buff of the polishing cloth. Photography is thus a part of the ‘crafting’ process by which meaning can be shaped and refined in the form of presentational techniques.
The single physical component, made using the conventional materials and techniques associated with a traditional jewellery outcome, offers the foundation from which the craft image is produced. Through digital manipulation Necklace, Bracelet, Brooch therefore explores the alternative techniques and technologies that are available to today’s craft maker. The conceptual ‘space’ in which I operate addresses the conventional structure by which craft practitioners photograph their work in order to document, promote and ultimately sell their craft.
Necklace, in detail, 2011. Porcelain and steel wire.
Necklace, 2011. Porcelain and steel wire.
Necklace, Bracelet, Brooch, 2011. Exhibited at the Concept and Context in Practice Research Conference and exhibition, James Hockney & Foyer Galleries, Farnham, Kent.
Necklace, 2011. Digital image.
Brooch, 2011. Digital image.
Bracelet, 2011. Digital image.
Modern digital technology can be used to unveil aspects of an object that are not normally seen by the viewer in the conventional museum setting of the display case. Macro photography offers the potential for engagement with the visual narrative that can be deduced from an object’s surface.
A jewellery object was selected from the V&A archive and photographed, with the intention of re-presenting it in close-up images. The magnification of the object’s surface reveals a landscape of colour within the polished and, in places, tarnished metal. Scratches, indentations and scuffs gathered over time are brought in to focus, alluding to the time when the object was worn and handled. In this process, the composition of intricacies becomes the focus of my work and highlights the object’s relationship with craft, materiality and wearability.
The aim of the re-presentation of a conventionally displayed object was to highlight the value of exhibition methods in contemporary jewellery and enable recognition of the vicissitudes of its history through a visual narrative.
Re-Present Series (image 1), 2011.
Re-Present Series (image 2), 2011.
Re-Present Series (image 3), 2011.
Re-Present Series (image 4), 2011.
Re-Present Series (image 5), 2011.
The Embodied Object
The wearer of jewellery provides an informative narrative, in addition to that proposed by the making process and the transitory nature of materiality. The jewel as a worn object becomes enveloped in the performance of the body. In terms of contemporary jewellery, this principle has caused a number of jewellers to investigate ways by which they can provide permanence to an object in motion.
This practical investigation looks toward moving imagery in order to document and provide tangibility to the behavioural mechanisms induced when wearing a jewellery object. This intimacy with the body can be revealed by a collection of unconscious movements, signals and habits made in response to the wearer’s environment and the object that adorns them, whether by twisting a wedding ring round the figure during a conversation or running a pendant up and down its chain while deep in thought. These are a system of actions that respond to an object’s materiality and the social context in which it is worn. The aim of this project, therefore, was to generate an approach to jewellery display based on the observed interactions between wearer and jewellery that is part of their everyday adornment. The challenge was to develop a system that gave permanence to the movement of worn jewellery, rather than producing a physical object that reflected movement through its form.
Owing to the film’s slow movement and small scale, their format is not immediately obvious. The audience is encouraged to investigate and observe the images to realise they are films not photographs, to interpret their purpose, and in turn, apply the same level of attention to the viewer’s own body and jewellery. It is by encouraging spectator introspection concerning the material or human relations in everyday life that the gap between viewer and artwork is bridged, generating a heightened sense of self-awareness amongst audience members.
The Embodied Object, film 1, 2013.
The Embodied Object, film 2, 2013.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Bangles in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Pendant in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Rings in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Ear bar in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Earring in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Ring in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Large rings in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Bracelets in detail, film still.
The Embodied Object, 2013. Chain in detail, film still.
Jewellery in Motion
The notion of ‘dress’ is an everyday process that is informed by the individual, social and political body. The way jewellery is placed on and off the body, for example, is responsive to an object’s form and material content, often becoming ritualised in its repetition. This form of behavioural response is continue throughout the day, creating a dialogue between body and object. The use of photography emphasised the interaction between the body and the worn object, capturing within a still image gestures or movements that go unnoticed from day to day. The moving image commands attention so that viewers are directed to notice the blurred outlines of the slow-moving jewellery and heightens the viewer’s awareness of their own jewellery.
Silhouettes of the moving object taken at intervals from frames of the film were transferred to pierced silver, thus retaining the visual information gathered in the observational film. The silver outcome, devoid of decorative detail, alludes to the piece’s wearability rather than to its aesthetics and craftsmanship.
Earring in Motion, 2010
Pendant in Motion, 2010. Sketch.
Earring in Motion, 2010. Sketch.
Pendant in Motion, test piece, 2010. Sketch and sterling silver.
Earring in Motion, 2010. Sterling silver.
Pendant in Motion, 2010. Sterling silver.
Pendant in Motion, 2010. Film still.
Researching Jewellery in Motion, 2010. Film still.