JAMES: Jewellery and metal Enquiry show

Exhibition  /  01 Sep 2007  -  08 Sep 2007
Published: 27.10.2007
Birmingham City University, Institute of Art and D
Dr. Jivan Astfalck
Patrick McMillan. Piece: Cloning, 2007. Patrick McMillan
Piece: Cloning, 2007
© By the author. Read Copyright.

The variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and processes available to an artist or designer in this field is far larger and of much greater potential than is indicated by the term ‘jewellery and silversmithing’

Artist list

Ching-I Juan, Christine Graf, Jessica Worley, Jo Bloxham, Kathryn Partington, Lisa Juen, Patrick McMillan, Ping Gong, Toni Mayner, Wenyao Xue, Xianou Ni.
Birmingham City University, Institute of Art and Design

MA Jewellery, Silversmithing & Related Products

is the overall title of the course. This is however a very limited and traditional description when one considers the wide variety of products that are within the province of the designer who has knowledge and expertise in the area of personal ornaments, body signification and decorative metal objects. The variety of materials, manufacturing techniques and processes available to an artist or designer in this field is far larger and of much greater potential than is indicated by the term ‘jewellery and silversmithing’ and has some affinities with industrial design, fashion design, fine art and sculpture and is often informed by intellectual engagements like general philosophy, conceptualisation or critical theory.

Our course philosophy addresses the existing and potential relationships within this sector, and educates its students to recognize, identify, understand and operate within this diversity. The philosophy of the course is embodied within a structured project programme that requires students to address vocational and academic research in design by applying their developing abilities and interests to a wide range of issues. Design experiences include ideas generation focused through strategies for concept development, the analysis of design problems and reflection on the relationships between personal objectives, cultural values, market identities, prototyping techniques and new technologies, thus enhancing knowledge and understanding, as well as facilitating the formation of professional studio methodologies. 


Ching-I Juan
My inspiration comes from the Chinese ribbon dance which its combination of play, performance and movement. Our lives are a dance, which is constantly moving and changing in form and rhythm. When a ribbon dancer performs it seems as if the flowing line in the air is held in tension.
When I started to make the object, the flower vase, I started thinking about the relationship between flowers and the flower vase set - how to display them as an art performance? If the table is my stage, the flower vase is the element of form making, then the flowers are the main protagonists on the stage. Therefore I focused on the choice of plants in relation to the container and the surrounding space.

The spatial relationship between the several elements of this set creates a kind of dance or drama, which changes as the user rearranges individual elements. When the elements and positions change then the story changes as well. This principle is reflected in the forms and juxtapositions of the flower vase set.

This unique way of displaying flowers could make them stand out from all the others in the room. Hard and soft, still and flowing, I try to express the symbolism and pure beauty of the flowers in my vase collection. There is an interaction in the relationship of user, flowers, vase and space. When the user works on the each element’s relationship with the others and with the flowers, this becomes an almost meditative performance. 

Christine Graf
My making process is characterised by my intuitive sense of aesthetics, the freedom in the creative process of perceiving, understanding, realising and shaping of an object. Coming from a background of traditional goldsmithing techniques I use my hands to find solutions that transform feeling into three-dimensional form.

Starting with a round sheet of white paper, I tried to create my own interpretation of a bowl. By cutting and overlapping the edge of the round blank, a bellied vessel shape is created. This organic form is defined by two characteristics, the small protruding cone shapes in the vessel wall and the structure of the overlapping edge; both are marked by light and shadow. These two aspects of the shape are the result of the making process, they are not decoration or ornamentation of the surface of the vessel. The aesthetic quality of the rhythmic repetition of the cone-shapes and the specific quality of light and shadow are translated into material, as simply as possible and not as an imitation, but as a logical development of the making process.

Notions like stillness and dynamism, constant and changing, material and immaterial describe my objects; reduction and colour, fragility and transience, simplicity and lightness are their characteristics. I use colour application and the texture of the surfaces to emphasise the fragility and ephemeral qualities of the work. As a result it seems as if the metal body is reduced, covered by the enamel it loses its structural qualities and in turn takes on a new visual and metaphorical identity. 

Jessica Worley
Using a variety of textiles techniques my work is concerned with the body and in particular its relationship with clothing. I am interested in the fact that together they represent an amalgamation of the actual and the invented body. I am fascinated by the notion that all clothing alters the body in some sense in that any garment will change the line of the body or impose a cultural association.

Clothing imitates the human form when not being worn because we read the human body in terms of the clothes that cover it. I am interested in the notion that empty garments and unworn appendages can represent an aspect of a culturally influenced identity that was previously hidden from view.

My work represents these ideas resulting in pieces that reference the body itself as well as the garments that create its extensions. I see my pieces as components that have been separated from an unconventional and imagined body. Although these pieces still physically connect to the body they are not jewellery in the conventional sense, instead they are sculptural objects that highlight the difference between the real and the created. 

Jo Bloxham
I have had a passion for narrative jewellery for many years, the development of which I have followed and collected over time. Initially trained as a maker, my interests have evolved into the promotion and showcasing of this growing art form.
As the organiser of the international jewellery symposium, Ars Ornata 2007, I curated two exhibitions, which became the focus of my MA.
Curating has proved to be an absorbing and fulfilling process for me. From the initial idea, to the selection of artists, to finding a venue and witnessing a project come to fruition is challenging, but deeply exciting.
I am keen to exhibit jewellery in less traditional venues, therefore creating and developing a new audience for this practice. Romancing the Stone was the exhibition I recreated for my MA show. Initially housed in Manchester's monumental town hall, it not only satisfied my desire to highlight the work of numerous artists worldwide and work closely with them, it breathed new life into these often ignored, but quite stunning marble sculptures, most of whom were the original pioneers of Manchester's industrial heritage. 

Kathryn Partington
‘We all seem to have an innate longing for primitive simplicity… imperfection becomes a form of perfection’
Daisetz and Suzuki, 1959, Zen and Japanese Culture, Princeton Press.

I am deeply interested in the application of surface pattern and ornamentation in jewellery. I produce one- off wearable items by utilising my background training within the discipline of tableware ceramics and printed textiles. I aim to combine these skills and develop them further, through material manipulation and experimentation.

The origin of my use of decoration is by deconstructing and subsequently reconstructing an 1890 Victorian adaptation of a Japanese style tableware pattern, which is symbolic of the dialogue that exists then and now between Eastern and Western ideas of design. I see my work as an evolutionary process that, informed by the Japanese aesthetic, uses hand drawing, engraving, slip casting techniques and print development, each process acting as a tool aiming to integrate these influences. I re-create, evolve and reference the past, while the manipulations of my various processes contain echoes of the original that will always remain. 

Lisa Juen
The world around us changes, mixes, grows, and becomes a melting pot of different people and cultures. This development offers a lot of advantages in terms of communication and exchange. Globalization helps us to unite the world, but also threatens to homogenise difference and individuality.

‘Higher, faster, better’ seems to be the idea that is settled in the human mind, being influenced by advertisement and stimulus satiation. The outside world becomes more and more important and in turn the internal world, developing one’s own uninfluenced ideas, seems to loose its value. For the individual to find a way to break out of that dynamic becomes more and more difficult. In a time of satellite systems, mobile phones, identity cards and CCTV surveillance, a physical escape is doomed to remain a dream. While the adventurers of ancient times could look at the horizon and imagine, skyscrapers and television broadcasts interfere with dreaming today.

One way of escape I think, can be found in a self-created realm of fantasy; there one might find a way of feel free, can indulge one’s needs and desires.

My work is concerned with the idea of finding access to the world of dreams, desires and wishes. I view my pieces as witnesses of experiences made in reality, but being transferred to a place of fantasy. The pieces are meant to offer the viewer access points, pathways and doors to the world of dreaming and the inner self.

There we find the resources and strength needed to carry on living in reality.
Without dreams, one becomes a robot. 

Patrick McMillan
Focusing on the creation and re-creation of organisms generated by genetic modification, I look to the darker side of this area of science to highlight experiments that are confusing, amazing, disturbing and unreal.

My vessel series focuses on the terminology that defines specific types of modification: transgenic, hybridization, cloning, synthesis, and xenogenic. I have applied each term to an individual vessel so that its form, colour, texture and method of construction correspond to its designation. The unique appearance of each piece demonstrates the diversity of these scientific processes and their potential outcomes.

In addition to the vessel forms supplementary creatures and objects are have been created. These objects are reference to the scientific creations that are classified as failures. They are intended to look unsuccessful, repellent and awkward, they represent what is often cast aside and rarely mentioned. At the same time these creatures are reminiscent of toys that are ambivalent in depicting unattractive imagery with something that is familiar.

I understand my work as a commentary on genetic modification related to the agricultural and medical sciences. My intention is to initiate a discussion about a subject that is considered by some as a miracle of science and by others as an abomination against nature. At a time when world demand for food and medicines is growing there are sinister possibilities when ethical boundaries are breached.

Ping Gong
I regard photography as a visual language that captures various unrepeatable moments from different perspectives, experiences, visual impacts, and subconscious feelings. These moments that highlight my life visually remain with me as memories.

I observe and question the relationship between our tangible lives, moments captured by the camera lens and enigmatic memory. By creating geometric shapes using polyester resin, I transform these moments into wearable pieces, which provide a glimpse into the poetic quality of particular moments. Subtle colours and textures evoke dream-like qualities, which allude to the precious and transient nature of memory.

All these photos record my experiences within the past ten months. I particularly love those images that make me feel peaceful and relaxed, for example, birds flying in a wispy cloud-filled sky, rainwater streaming copiously onto the ground, tree shadows invite us to imagine what is hidden…We live fast-paced lives, sometime it’s a luxury to be able to slow down and appreciate the subtlety and beauty of the moment or recall a unique memory from the past that we can so easily miss or take for granted. I hope my works invite others to share with me in the beauty if those moments.

Toni Mayner
This collection of work explores line, structure and form through the layering of strips of mild steel and silver to create dynamic structures that lead the eye around the object. Variations in scale and use of materials transform the pieces and their possible use. The structures I have made play with balance and space through the use of asymmetric form and the creation of shadows. Where the fixings become unseen, the viewer can feel that the piece may unravel at any moment. The use of mild steel allows for spontaneous construction and the temporary nature of surface quality results in ever changing patterns and colours. Ultimately the rusting process will affect the work, until at some point in the future, it disintegrates. In contrast, the silver pieces take on a refined quality that communicates a sense of occasion and permanence. 

Wenyao Xue
The inspiration for my work comes from the exploration of Chinese calligraphy and observations of the play of shadows. Chinese calligraphy is regarded as a form of pure art; it is rich in content, conveys moral integrity, emotions and communicates the joy of the beautiful. I used Chinese brush and ink to write and paint on Chinese paper, trying to represent my spiritual world in my work and at the same time I aimed to invoke a sense of oriental romance. I regard the play of shadow not only as a concept of light and shade, but also symbolic of other kinds of contrasts, such as black and white or positive and negative. I think shadow has a lot in common with Chinese calligraphy as both consist of black and white contrast and share a sense of flowing imagination.

Rings are the best jewellery medium to convey my ideas. Shadow can be affected by the different light sources in different environments. So when people wear my rings and move their hands the shadow can move freely across their hands, creating another layer of ornamentation which can be regarded as the very beginning of Chinese calligraphy. 

Xianou Ni
In my work I aim to create multi-layered meanings of images and methods of depiction. I am interested in the visual contradictions that exist between the presentations of nature and machinery, complexity and simplicity.

The combination of natural and geometric forms becomes a methodology that I explore in my design ideas. Connotative qualities permeate the sculptural form that aims to inspire an emotional as well as aesthetic response.

I strive to create functionality by describing conflict, disorder, non-integration and the illogical factors between form and function. Movement and intriguing combinations of elements refer to my attempt to find rich methods to reconstruct the objects that have previously been destroyed; thus creating independent and playful forms that offer novelty to the viewer through their sculptural qualities.

It is important for me not to think in terms of principles in formal composition, but rather of questioning structures. In this way I juxtapose the structure, materials and technique with expressive ideas.

Chinh-I Juan. Piece: Untitled, 2007. Chinh-I, JuanPiece: 2007. Chinh-I Juan
Piece: Untitled, 2007

Chinh-I, Juan
Piece: 2007

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Christine Graf. Piece: Untitled, 2007. Christine, GrafPiece: 2007. Christine Graf
Piece: Untitled, 2007

Christine, Graf
Piece: 2007

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Jessica Worley. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Jessica, WorleyBrooch: 2007. Jessica Worley
Brooch: Untitled, 2007

Jessica, Worley
Brooch: 2007

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Kathryn Partington. Piece: Untitled, 2007. Kathryn, PartingtonPiece: 2007. Kathryn Partington
Piece: Untitled, 2007

Kathryn, Partington
Piece: 2007

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Lisa Juen. Piece: Untitled, 2007. Lisa, JuenPiece: 2007. Lisa Juen
Piece: Untitled, 2007

Lisa, Juen
Piece: 2007

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Ping Gong. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Ping, GongBrooch: 2007. Ping Gong
Brooch: Untitled, 2007

Ping, Gong
Brooch: 2007

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Toni Mayner. Piece: Untitled, 2007. Toni, MaynerPiece: 2007. Toni Mayner
Piece: Untitled, 2007

Toni, Mayner
Piece: 2007

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Wenyao Xue. Brooch: Untitled, 2007. Wenyao, XueBrooch: 2007. Wenyao Xue
Brooch: Untitled, 2007

Wenyao, Xue
Brooch: 2007

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Xianou Ni. Bracelet: Untitled, 2007. Xianou, NiBracelet: 2007. Xianou Ni
Bracelet: Untitled, 2007

Xianou, Ni
Bracelet: 2007

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