5th July - 1st September 2002

An Exhibition of Calalan Jewellery
Part of an Exchange Project showing British work at
Hipotesi Gallery in Barcelona 13th June - 15th August '02

Crafts, November/December 2002 review of 'Distinto-Distinct'

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About Us

November/December 2002

Kath Libbert Jewellery, Bradford
5 July - 1 September 2002
Catalogue: 3 + p&p
Distinto-Distinct was an exchange project between Kath Libbert of Kath Libbert Jewellery in Saltaire and Maria Lluisa Sameranch, owner of the Hipotesi Gallery in Barcelona. Drawing on their own preferences and reflecting the foci of their respective galleries, the work of six British jewellers - Jessica Briggs, Christina Hirst, Kathryn Marchbank, Jo McAllister, Dot Sim and Sarah Stafford - were exhibited in Barcelona while the work of six Catalan jewellers was shown in Saltaire.
In comparison with the more design-led work of the British jewellers, the Catalan work appeared to be much more idiosyncratic. Xavier Ines Monclus integrates images of popular culture, reminiscent of childhood toys and characters in comics, into surreal and often funny combinations. The ambiguity thus achieved . between figuration and ornament is carefully balanced and visually intriguing. The playful aspect of the work was well contained in the collage-like appearance of the pieces. It communicated a thoughtful approach to design, while still considering the kaleidoscopic appearance of images in a post-modern culture.
Judging from the work and supported by the artists' statements all six jewellers have a strong investment in the storytelling aspect of jewellery. Even Montserrat Marin, whose work is abstract, states that the play between emotive qualities, the rational and the sensory are important to her. She created a range of circular silver jewellery pieces, playing with different levels and silver-gold juxtapositions, though my feeling was that the partial surface treatment with gold leaf was not altogether successful, creating conflict between the flaky appearance of the leaf and the clarity of the white metal surfaces. The appearance of the gold needed to be developed three-dimensionally into an almost fur-like appearance. Only then would it have made the strong aesthetic statement which was needed to succinctly communicate the artistic ideas behind the work.
Carmen Amador's work was aesthetically very different. Here the traces of the making process and the tentative appearance of the work was controlled and handled with intention. Amador's delicate objects look as if they could be means of transport, only that the sort of travel she has in mind is in the imagination or in dreams. Like little machines from a Jules Verne story, these objects are delightful inventions, wonderfully ornate and poetic.
The allegorical aspect of storytelling was strongest in Grego Garcia Tebar's work. Her postcardsized wooden boxes framed mixed media collages: found and made parts are brought into a visual context to symbolise subjective narratives. Pieces such as these demand good titles, to offer the viewer an interpretative pathway into the work. Unfortunately, these titles had not been exhibited alongside the work and so one was left with a purely visual appreciation. Alongside, Garcia Tebar exhibited a range of pearl necklaces extending the traditional format of the pearl design: these I found particularly beautiful. Silvia Piva's work was accompanied by a carefully choreographed video, which communicated far better than any written statement her concern with movement and fragility. In a landscape of sea, sand and stone she placed objects made of fine black wire, studded with pearls or stones, which appeared light and vulnerable; wire cages were holding or maybe entrapping dried roses and pearls. Without the contextualising support of the video, I would have missed much of the depth in this work and it made me aware again how difficult it is to transpose sensual artistic agendas to the jewellery display case. The placing of narrative objects in abstract wire structures was also, if in a very different way, the theme in Milena Trujillo's work. Here tiny plastic figures inhabited small worlds made of ornate wirework. The objects described places where people come to rest quite peacefully, places between reality and fantasy. This sense of transition was beautifully captured in the pendants, where these little imaginary worlds, suspended from the neck in mid-air, travelled along the ribbons and chains, which were holding them.
Selected highlights of the British work will be at Kath Libbert Jewellery, Salts Mill, Victoria Road, Saltaire, West Yorkshire BD18 3LB, (01274) 599790, from 1 October - 5 November 2002.

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