Having admired Jo Ponds work from afar, her solo exhibition ‘Rationed’ and Talking Practice seminar, at Vittoria Street Gallery was a perfect opportunity to gain first hand insights of an established narrative jeweller.
In her latest exhibition, Rationed, we see a collection which is deeply personal, having evolved from the diaries of her paternal Grandmother during WWII. A self labelled ‘hoarder’ inherited from Pond ancestors before, we see her signature period tins, domestic bakeware and period artefacts, alongside wartime sepia colours giving rise to an undercurrent highlighting the role women played during the war.
In discussing her own work, Jo reflected on how personally emotive this body of work has been to create – the conversations it has initiated in her own family and the history she has uncovered. As I am also using extracts from my own Grandfathers diary, I immediately draw a comparison and appreciate how addictive it is to keep digging into your own ancestry. She also discussed how themes such as WWII reach a wider audience, engaging and responding with their own tales of their grandparents or heroics of WWII. Jo’s work isn’t strictly interdisciplinary, but I wonder whilst undertaking such a stirring topic as WWII, that the potential for audience engagement is widened.
I’ve blogged about this before, but again I think back to working in the auction world and remember how much I also loved hearing those nostalgic stories from clients. It really was the best part of the job and I deeply miss that connection. This also highlights for me, that at this stage in my journey, and unlike narrative jewellers such as Bettina Speckner, I need a genuine connection to my materials.
This brings me back to the honesty I see in Jo’s work. It’s a fine balance, to repurpose materials, whilst also keeping the integrity of their original use visible. It’s clear that Jo really respects her materials and I can only aspire to do the same.