Matters of Life & Death

7th July - 25th Sept 2011

Craft Arts International review

Craft Arts International, Issue 83, 2011
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About Us


Issue 83, 2011

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire, UK, 7 July -25 September, 2011.

THIS exhibition explored the responses of nine international jewellery artists to the proliferation of natural disasters and manmade destruction in our world. It included sculptural work, jewellery and film, curated in a way that makes religious, political, artistic and fashion statements about dualities such as life and death, light and dark, sobriety and humour.

Visitors were not only confronted by the striking jewellery but were also induced into wondering how it would feel to have a wolf trap clasped around their wrist? Sophie Hanagarth, this year's winner of the Herbert Hofmann prize, the world's most prestigious contemporary jewellery award, showed Trap, wrought iron bracelets that resemble wolf traps with sharp, articulated claws. Says Hanagarth, 'They're jaws, dentures or mouths worn on the arm. They absorb us, eat us or suck us. By the mere act of putting on these bracelets, our hand is gobbled down, devoured, an extremity of the human body is captured.' The pieces are brutally beautiful, surprisingly sensual and extremely wearable!

'Do you dare wear Carbon and Horsehair?' asked Agnes Larsson who combines these unlikely yet elemental materials to create very dramatic neckpieces. Carbon is a basic material existing in all living things but which we also consider to be dead, burned and charred, while horsehair is a natural material that has connections to the body and life. Larsson says, 'In my work I see opposites like alive and dead, darkness and light, surface and depth, fragility and strength.' Can severed swords become jewels to adorn the body was raised by Bernhard Lehner, who describes his jewellery as 'symbolic disarmament'. He deconstructs weapons and reformed them as pieces of provacative jewellery; instruments of destruction recreated as wearable decoration for the body.

But "Matters of Life and Death" wasn't all about doom and gloom The curator also selected jewellers whose work is energetic, creative and joyful to lift the spirits, such as colourful post apocalyptic mosaic tree brooches by Samantha Queen and vibrant, avant garde work by Lina Peterson that injects a literal ray of sunshine. The exhibition also includes some humorous highlights courtesy of Akiko Kurihara, whose playful punning pieces charm and engage and Peter Vermandere with gargoyle- inspired pearl pins curiously titled Emotions for the Advanced.

Comments curator Kath Libbert, 'I wanted to present an exhibition that reflects on destruction, both natural and man-made, as this is a huge preoccupation in our world at the moment - but also a show that explores the possibilities for regeneration, hope and humour. We invited visitors to be photographed wearing a piece that moved, excited, or revolted them ... and to record their response on an ever growing "chain of thought" which will became an integral part of the "Matters of Life and Death" show.

Since 1996 this leading contemporary jewellery gallery has been set within Salts Mill, home to the world's largest collection of work by David Hockney. Open daily, it specialises solely in contemporary jewellery, silver and metal smithing showcasing diverse collections by over 70 renowned designers and emerging talents from Britain and abroad.

Much of the work on show pushes and blurs the boundaries between fine art, jewellery design and fashion resulting in jewellery that is, perhaps, best described as wearable art. Pieces are often created using a surprising range of diverse materials and techniques.

The gallery organises a number of major exhibitions each year, some of which have been supported by funding from Arts Council England and the Crafts Council in recognition of the important role they play in showcasing the best of British and international talent in Yorkshire and the UK.

Kath Libbert Jewellery Gallery is also well known for its popular Annual Alternative Wedding Show, now in its 10th year. Alongside collections of wedding and engagement jewellery which the gallery have all year round, this show features the newest most distinctive individually designed and handcrafted rings and other bridal jewellery and tiaras. All can be custom made in silver, gold or platinum and set with stones of the client's choice, including stones and gold from existing family heirlooms.

The gallery also offers OwnArt, an interest free loan scheme set up by Arts Council England which enables people to acquire contemporary art/jewellery and pay for it over 10 months.

Salts Mill is a magnificent Victorian textile mill built by Sir Titus Salt in the centre of Saltaire, the "model village" he built to house his community of mill workers. Saltaire, which is surrounded by stunning scenery, was awarded World Heritage Status in 2001.
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.