My designs are understood in the fashion community as ‘wearable art.’ And lately I’ve been venturing into jewellery making – another kind of wearable art.
Not everyone recognises jewellery making as an artform. Jewellery has become tied to its monetary value and is usually recognised simply as a commodity, with diamonds generally considered the highest expression of jewellery.
But jewellery is an artform. It is practiced in the same way as sculpture – with attention to the moulded and structural forms, the use of symbolism, and exploration of multi-dimensional materials. And without a design sensibility, a piece of jewellery will lack beauty, resonance or meaning. Great artists of the 15th and 16th centuries all trained in the design and production of fine jewellery!
My foray into jewellery making was inspired by a roll of copper wire and the precious stones I had procured for use in my garment designs. The malleability of the copper wire was immediately of interest to me – I could knit with it! Here is one of my recently produced pieces – a knitted copper wire and agate choker necklace.
There is a wealth of contemporary and ancient body ornaments in museums and galleries around the world. Some of the elements most appreciated by collectors and museums are intricate beadwork and extensive use of mixed media. This appreciation has gradually expanded to include the use of found objects and a variety of flexible media. I’ve been upcycling vintage jewellery found in thrift shops and antique stores – these can make a wonderful base or foundation for the development of a truly unique piece of jewellery.
I have also been recycling pieces of my organic and eco-printed fabrics to create miniature landscapes of soft and hard forms, and all allowing me live out the Green Embassy Zero Waste Policy.
Jewellery is used by women and more recently also men as an expression of individual personality. People can become very connected to a piece of jewellery and it almost becomes part of their identity. This is why unique, one-of-a-kind pieces are important to their wearers.
Simon Sakhai, the director of the Shizaru gallery (a contemporary art gallery in Mayfair, London), said:
“We see jewellery as an important part of the artistic dialogue and it should be included in the great intellectual discourse of art.”*
Simon, I agree. With new necklaces and headpieces to complement my eco-fashion designs, this month, the world will see a new side of Green Embassy on the runways of Vancouver and Paris!
*UK Financial Times, Nov 11, 2011.