11th November - 31st January 2005
'Czech It Out'
Jewellery and Sculpture from
The Czech Republic

Yorkshire Post, Nov 2004 review of Czech It Out

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Designers from the Czech Republic show how they can create a lot from a little when their work goes on show for the first time in the UK at a gallery in Saltaire. JiII Armstrong meets Kath Libbert, who is putting on the exhibition for very personal reasons.
Kath Libbert's jewellery gallery is known for pushing the boundaries between art, jewellery design and fashion and some of the work she displays is best described as wearable art. Kath likes to spring a few surprises when she stages an exhibition and pieces she features are often created using an unusual range of materials and techniques. The latest exhibition to be staged at her gallery at Salts Mill in Saltaire has been over four years in the making and took her on a considerable voyage of discovery. It features 13 designers from the Czech Republic and there were times when Kath began to wonder if the venture would ever come to fruition. She has a personal reason for wanting to provide a platform for the work of Czech jewellers because her mother is Czech Jewish and her family lived in the same small village for hundreds of years until they were forced to leave in 1938 to escape the Nazis. Their home was in a village near Brno where her grandfather had textile mills - not unlike Saltaire and Kath went there for the first time 10 years ago. She's returned three times since then tracking down designers and once the Czech Republic joined the EU it became possible to turn her plans into reality. Kath grew up with an interest in contemporary design but her career followed a different path. She worked as a psychologist for Leeds Community Mental Health services for a number of years and opened her jewellery gallery in 1996. She left the health service four years ago to concentrate full time on the gallery and to organise some of her more adventurous exhibitions. "The Czech designers' resourcefulness and determination are borne out of circumstances," said Kath. "There is very little financial support for contemporary jewellers and hardly any contemporary jewellery galleries. I wanted to help promote this work more widely as I found it very exciting and compelling for its ingenuity and refreshing candour. The jewellery also often becomes a vehicle to communicate personal and, at times, political stories which were fascinating."
It took her a while to find the artists because there are so few outlets for their work and most of them also have regular jobs such as lecturing and teaching. "I was really excited about what I found and I wanted to give a platform to these people who are talented, creative and witty," she said. The jewellery and larger sculptural pieces in the show, called Czech It Out, have been created from materials as diverse as bone, string, glass, plastic, fishing bait and credit cards, along with the more usual precious metals and garnets which are traditionally used in Czech jewellery. The designers include Blanka Sperkova, who is known internationally as a jeweller, sculptor, illustrator and film-maker. She creates jewellery and three dimensional objects by knitting with her fingers in silver-coated copper wire. She started by knitting puppets When her children were young.
Barbora Kalisova began by using classical goldsmithing techniques but moved on to different materials and technical constructions. Most recently, she has designed and made a collection of erotic bras for which the components are cut by laser or using computer led instruments.
Jana Strilkovao
works with the unlikely combination of cattle bones and silver to create her unusual rings and Petr Vogl's wacky collections are made from cheap, disposable materials such as Plexiglass, fishing bait, cake cutters and soap. To say the work in this exhibition is not traditional jewellery is a considerable understatement and Kath Libbert is prepared for the fact that visitors may find some of the items challenging. She will be on hand to explain as much as she can about how the designers have been able to create a lot from very little with thoughtfulness and humour. --- - --
Czech It Out is at Kath Libbert Jewellery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford, from November 10 to January 31. To launch the exhibition, Blanka Sperkova will give a talk and film show about her work at 6pm on November 10. For more information about this, call 01274 599790.

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