TO THE LIGHT, THROUGH THE NIGHT: International Jewellery Exhibition JUST MUST

Article  /  Behind the Scenes
Published: 03.02.2010
TO THE LIGHT, THROUGH THE NIGHT: International Jewellery Exhibition JUST MUST.
Vappu Thurlow
Edited by: magazine
Edited at:
Ted Noten. Object: Survival Bag. acrylic resin, gold, second-hand handle, shoulder chop. 26 x 31 x 5,5 cm. Ted Noten
Object: Survival Bag
acrylic resin, gold, second-hand handle, shoulder chop
26 x 31 x 5,5 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Hope gives us courage to carry on. A gift involves hope. An artist’s gift is greater than that of other people, and as with any gift, the bearer must reciprocate. Somebody always needs to be saved. The artist speaks to all, even if only a few will listen.
Sometimes one could compare the process of making an artwork with psychoanalysis because it helps the artist to release his worries. When a person talks to the analyst, the issues are discussed openly, until some kind of solution is reached. An artist does not verbalise, he expresses his problems visually, symbolically. In the same way, almost automatically, as any other person might just clear his head, go for a walk or to movies, or perhaps light a cigarette. An artist’s work is his best pastime, as important and unavoidable as a favourite time-out for anyone else. 

When an artist is alone in his studio, he cannot make it easier and cannot hurry. He uses all his intelligence in the dialogue with himself, a solution must be reached; compromises are not acceptable, he cannot cheat himself. An artist’s work is great when the effort of making it has been truthful. Viewers of his work empathise with an honest effort, they can see their own issues reflected in the work.

Black is a metaphor of sorrow. A person in grief must be alone for a while to heal their pain. When the mourning is over a different person comes out of it, as if stepping out from behind a curtain. 

Light is an agent that makes every color. Reflection of the rays of light makes us see the colors. Black is an aspect of light: dark, temporary and sometimes unavoidable for self-expression. It helps one see things in a different way. When Malevich painted his "Black Square on Black”, he used the effects of light reflecting on the surface, as well as the paint’s tendency to crack, to make the different surfaces visible. In the darkness, objects look larger or smaller than they really are, because the dusk is deceptive. For this reason, men act differently in a dark room, they tend to focus on their innate qualities. The person who holds a lamp in a dark room, controls the situation, he can make others believe. The designer of an exhibition in a dimly lit room controls the viewer’s vision more than any other designer. 

Hope gives us courage to carry on. A gift involves hope. An artist’s gift is greater than that of other people, and as with any gift, the bearer must reciprocate. Somebody always needs to be saved. The artist speaks to all, even if only a few will listen. The artist is full of hope. It gives him strength to go through the darkness, and gives him the right to take up darkness and blackness as an issue. 

Sometimes one’s own personal weakness is the darkest of all things, or a too narrow attachment to a rule. The tradition of hygiene has been a basis for survival for many centuries, but today we tend to use disinfectants in such amounts that they may become a danger. Our usual way of thinking can become a bacteriophobia; this has inspired Manfred Bischoff’s "Lost Potato”. Irony towards the same kind of fear has inspired Julia de Ville’s mounted mouse with diamond eyes. Someone with an obsession with order or cleanliness might find this rodent highly disturbing. 

Artists know the traditions of jewellery art and its normal materials, but they keep looking for new materials, even though most of the non-traditional "whims” have already been tested. In addition to the standard materials of felt, iron, aluminium, plastic, rubber, cork, and polyester, other components have been added at the History Museum exhibition: asphalt, gravel, cable, raw meat and sperm. With such unusual media one asks: why? rather than: what? Ted Noten’s pork chop inside an elegant piece of acrylic resin called a "Survival-Bag” defines a society that expects toughness, as well as charm, from ladies who carry purses. A ring with sperm, on the other hand, says something about men. Of excentric ornaments, Konrad Mehus’ golden valium box is another idiosyncratic confession. Akiko Kurihara’s surrealistic image of a nail with roots suggests an irrisistable obsession. 

Artists, like alchemists, keep looking for a "philosopher’s stone” that would release daily worries and make one feel stronger, better, nobler – Kadri Mälk. In the era of smooth screens and polished plastics the rough look of a heavy item brings one closer to archaic culture, it seems to have a mythological aura. Looking at a 1000-year old ornament at a museum, we tend to forget that once it was too new and shiny. Striving for roots, our contemporaries often trust patina and rust, like in Heigo Jelle’s necklaces made of heavy iron nails, as well as the rustic brooches, bracelets and neckpieces that look like chain mail, made by Paula Crespo. Sometimes this roughness is serious, sometimes it comes with humor, as in Karen Pontoppidan’s pendant. 

Kristiina Laurits has made a bracelet of old-fashioned lace, and Francis Willemstijn has stiched dark silver details with cotton thread which gives these things an aura of antiquity, as if someone were holding their jewellery carefully in an old chest of drawers. Xavier Domenech’s white embroidered handkerchief is itself like a jewel, standing apart in an era when everybody else uses paper napkins. Love for these things has inspired Truike Verdegaal to go to Muhu island, where she has collected motifs from the national costume. At the same time, a curious eye is looking through an opening in the brooch, as if through a window to the other side, staying "there” herself. There is no way of communicating with this ancient way of life it seems to say. It is dark and primordial to us, nevertheless we need to reach out to it, as if to a ray of light.


Vappu Thurlow (1960) is an Estonian Art critic and curator. is an Estonian quarterly of art and visual culture published in Tallinn. The title continues the legacy of Kunst magazine started in 1959; the magazine was restarted as in 2000.

Editor-in-chief: Heie Treier 
ISSN / ISBN: 1406-6335
Julia deVille. Brooch: Gunclub, 2004. Mouse, diamonds, jet, 9ct gold. 3.5 x.2.5 x3 cm. Julia deVille
Brooch: Gunclub, 2004
Mouse, diamonds, jet, 9ct gold
3.5 x.2.5 x3 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.