A Few Thoughts on Jewellery from the JEWELLERY NO SHIWA exhibition

Published: 05.06.2018
Makiko Akiyama
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Exhibition view from outside. Photo by Mikiko Minewaki
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Exhibition view from outside. Photo by Mikiko Minewaki

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JEWELLERY NO SIWA (Wrinkles of Jewellery) is the title of an exhibition curated by jewellery artist Mikiko Minewaki that took place from 12 to 27 January 2018 at HOLE IN THE WALL gallery in Shibuya, Tokyo. It was a privilege to be invited to participate in this show as a writer, which allowed my short piece of writing to be showcased alongside stunning jewellery pieces by the eight artists and seven students. The following text is its English translation, with a little modification from the original version, which is now incorporated with some images of the exhibition. It is my hope that this virtual version of the show will please readers in the same way as the real one did the visitors.

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Hiyu Hamasaki, “scramble,” brooch, PVC, stainless steel, silver. Photo by Manami Aoki

Jewellery is a weird thing. It has no functional purpose yet it can be seen all over the world and its wearer carries it almost everywhere. Each owner and wearer feels a connection to it for a different reason. The meaning that you attach to jewellery may be very different to the meaning the person next to you attaches to it.
Jewellery to me, at the end of the day, is something insignificant. This view may disappoint you as the readers of this text, since you must be more or less interested in jewellery. However, consider briefly what human beings are capable of – we have created machines to fly thousands of miles, built skyscrapers with heights of several hundred metres and devised weapons of mass destruction that are easily capable of killing tens of thousands of people at once. These few examples are sufficient to remind us that jewellery and the act of wearing it is frivolous. Despite this, however, we never cease to feel an emotional attachment to jewellery. The idea that such a tiny object can easily delight or disappoint human beings, who are masters of both enormous development and acts of cruelty, is in a way comical. This comicality is probably worth considering – perhaps we are too weak and fickle to emotionally connect to something grander or larger than ourselves. This led me to think that it is this very indifference that makes jewellery indispensable for us and allows us to attach all kinds of emotions to it, from greed, desire, vanity, cruelty and vulgarness, to prayer, affection, friendship and nobility. Some people use jewellery as proof of their wealth, a glittering addition to their clothes or in the form of a family heirloom. Others see in jewellery a historical, cultural or religious heritage. Sometimes it takes on unfavourable roles and can even provide a motive for murder.

Exhibition view. Photo by Mikiko Minewaki

Although jewellery can indeed be sinful like that, and many people do wear it out of pure greed or ego, it must also be possible to assume that our passion for wearing jewellery is partially rooted in a simple and humble emotion, such as our natural desire to put a pretty flower on a finger or in our hair when we spot it in a field. This expectation may be arguable, but it continues to attract me. For me, the humbleness displayed in our act of feeling a connection to a small piece of jewellery appears to be one of the few human attributes capable even of beating the brilliance of jewels. Yet this doesn’t stop me from seeking the negative aspects of people in jewellery since my passion for jewellery is based solely on a curiosity to witness various sides of human nature, including both ugliness and goodness. And I’m sure that this desire will continue to drive me to write about jewellery.

(left) Fumiki Taguchi, “The memory of weathering No-2,” brooch, acrylic, plastic, silver, iron, paint. Photo by Mikiko Minewaki.
(right) Tamae Kamishima, “gather”, acrylic paint, medium. Photo by Manami Aoki.



A visitor watching Manami Matsuda’s work, “Hitotsunagari (connection),” copper, gold leaf, acrylic paint, brass wire, a Buddhist stole. Photo by Manami Aoki

Exhibition information:

JEWELLERY NO SIWA: “SIWA” (=wrinkle) is a word to define a texture of fine strained or fold pattern produced on skin, paper, fabric, etc…. This exhibition shows wide perception of “SIWA” from proof of time; aging and life experience, an unique external expression of fluctuation in physical matters, to condensation of time and space. “SIWA” is fascinating appearance formed in pursuit over time – Mikiko Minewaki
Participating artists:
Kimiaki Kageyama, Shinji Nakaba, Michihiro Sato, Mikiko Minewaki, Itto Mishima, Fumiki Taguchi, Makiko Akiyama, Manami Matsuda, Yasuki Hiramatsu (from Hiko Mizuno Collection)
Participating students: Yukiko Hanamoto (Jewelry Postgraduate Program), Hiyu Hamasaki (INST4), Manami Aoki (INST4), Tamae Kamishima (INST4), Koudai Kadokura (ADJ4), Misaki Nomoto (FAA3), Yuki Yoshioka (FAA2)


About the author

Makiko Akiyama. Writer and translator. Born in 1979 in Osaka, Japan. In 2013 launched a newsletter for Japanese readers featuring translated articles about art jewelry. Contributing writer for klimt02, Current Obsession, Art Jewelry Forum, and Norwegian Crafts.