Reconstructing the Chain of Title

I am at the beginning of my MA journey, researching my initial design proposal and delving into what feels like a world where the avenues of sentimentality in contemporary jewellery have already been explored. As I page through Lin Cheung’sTomfoolery: Objects and Jewellery’ I start questioning: How can I develop an innovative perspective?

As my point of departure, I am considering if I could capture the past and the present. Jewellery is passed down through generations of families, and so are the associated stories. I know from personal experience these stories change and blanks can start to appear in the chain of title.

Working with traditional silver, their provenance and life was often easier to unpick, hallmarks, inscriptions, personal dedications, monograms and heraldry all give fixed markers in their history. A diamond ring, a pearl necklace and a gold brooch can be far more elusive in giving up their provenance. For me there is something so alluring in the wearer being able to choose how to narrate and fill these blanks in their jewellery’s history.

Roberta Bernabei’s book ‘Contemporary Jewellers: Interviews with European Artists’, in conversation with Iris Eichenberg describes ‘the neediness of being handled or passed down‘. This short quote summed up so many of my feelings about sentimentality within jewellery and whilst researching further I find myself fascinated by the work of Laura Potter. In ‘My Life in a Sock Drawer’, Potter considers how we store and keep jewellery that isn’t worn and not necessarily commercially valuable but purely kept and treasured for sentimental connections. This confirmed that I want to examine further the use of a box, case or frame in my own work.

My drawings at this stage are exploring the idea of evoking a sense of history through texture and decoration alone, I imagine surfaces of engine-turning, niello, patination, enamel and monograms. The same 4 pieces could be connected in many combinations. As I start to translate my drawings into 3D, its seems organic to start building in found objects and I feel eager to drive my ideas forward.

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