From the Coolest Corner: Nordic Jewellery Olso 2013 - Checking the temperature

Article  /  Review
Published: 24.01.2013
From the Coolest Corner: Nordic Jewellery Olso 2013 - Checking the temperature.
Edited by:
Sanna Svedestedt
Edited at:
Konrad Mehus. Piece: Bridal crown Krona på verket 2 - Bird's nest, 2003. Silver, twigs. 16.5x15 cm. Konrad Mehus
Piece: Bridal crown Krona på verket 2 - Bird's nest, 2003
Silver, twigs
16.5x15 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Things are cooking in the coolest corner. Through an initiative established in 2009, the third Nordic jewellery exhibition opened last week in Oslo. With joint efforts the Norwegian Association for Arts and Crafts, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design and the jewellery department of Oslo National Academy of the Arts presents From the Coolest Corner – Nordic Jewellery.
The name From the Coolest Corner can be interpreted as a play with the prejudices of this area: cold, cool and not the centre of attention. The main exhibition of FTCC features a wide range of jewellery created in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia by independent makers. Selected by a jury, the artists show work not older than three years. Altogether jewellery will be presented in three different ways; a touring exhibition, a comprehensive book by Arnoldsche Art Publishers and an international symposium.

 Frozen moments
The exhibition architecture by Sigurd Bronger sets a calm and focused mood within the large halls of The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design. The jewellery is displayed in boxes, on podiums and on walls behind protective glass. Project manager Martina Kaufmann reveals that the jury was open to even more alternative interpretations of jewellery, but there were no applications involving for example performances.

One of the more unconventional examples displayed is "Your trash my treasure" by Linnéa Blakéus Calder, a photo of a jewellery piece being worn, the piece itself not present. Some of the other wall mounted jewellery almost turns into paintings, in this frozen presentation. The most unprotected pieces in the scenery are the work by Finnish Anna Rikkinen. The artist’s large scale jewellery are hung on the wall, as if someone took of their coat and moved on. Next to them are large photographs of people wearing Rikkinen’s pieces. In this presentation the jewellery get the often sought after “relation to a body”. But here the onlooker can experience a gap in the connection between the jewel and the image. The chosen style of the images, with highlighted faces in a dark setting makes you think of 17th century portraits. Somehow the work become rigid and stiff, as if it never intended to be more than a two dimensional image.

Moving on in the hall the pieces are placed in relationship to each other, some in deep communication and other in a silent disagreement. The jury has selected a wide range of new jewellery pieces. What they have in common is that they are all yearning to convey their story. The participating artists are dealing with issues such as intimacy, evolving traditional craft materials, environment, gender, rituals, excess, recycling, up-cycling, sounds, every day stories, identity, and lightness to mention a few. The width could appear overwhelming but in this case it is important. By showing the wide range of subjects and issues within the field FTCC manages to speak with an intriguing tone to a new public about what jewellery is and dreams of being.

The participants in the Coolest Corner can roughly be divided into three groups, starting of with the first generation of jewellery artists such as Liv Blåvarp, Konrad Mehus and Peter de Wit. From the second generation you find names such as Helena Lehtinen and Karin Johansson. The third generation consists of the younger artists, where some recently finished their training. Traditional goldsmith’s work can be found in all three categories. How the younger artists have started to promote themselves through social media is perhaps one of the biggest differences between the groups.
Especially invited to participate in the exhibitions are the nestors, artists who are considered to have been especially important for the developments of their country.

Early developements
Apart from the main exhibition FTCC presented a parallel program with satellite exhibitions, a workshop by Atelier Ted Noten and a two-day seminar, all devoted to jewellery. During the seminar Lisbeth den Besten explained her view on the Nordic jewellery development. After the world wars the craft scene in the Nordic countries resumed its strength and developed into the modernist design esthetics of the 60’s. Leading names were Georg Jensen, Sigvard Bernadotte, Sigurd Persson, Sven Arne Gillgren, and Torun Bülow-Hübe. The modernist movement gained ground worldwide and set the tone for the Nordic artists. While the New Jewellery emerged in Europe in the 60’s the Nordic countries stayed true to their traditions. In the 1980’s the New Jewellery reached the north and artist such as Kim Buck, Per Suntum and Liv Blåvarp became Nordic pioneers.

Is it possible to tell which of the Nordic countries a specific piece originates from today? Judging from the Coolest Corner there are no typical trends setting the countries apart. Maybe one reason is the schools and the fact that teachers and students move across borders.

Critique is a healthy part of an event this massive. During the two day seminar that was held in Oslo questions were asked. Marjam Unger reminded the listeners of the subject* she raised during schmuck 2012 concerning the hazardous development of an inbreed jewellery art scene. Unger also questioned the purpose of showing only recent jewellery and to present it in the traditional scenery of an art museum.

Solid institutions are important in the aim to extend the field, as well as searching for new audiences and arenas. Widar Halén, Director of Design and decorative Arts at National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design see a prosperous future for the Nordic jewellery scene, perhaps due to its slower developments.

During a workshop by Atelier Ted Noten over 50 participants explored the issue of “how to survive as an artist without losing creativity”. The workshop Stay hungry, stay foolish was held by Marcel van Kan who explained: “If you want to create you also have to sell”. A few blocks away, just getting ready for the opening of Aftermath of Art Jewellery the Norweigan artist Sigurd Bronger stated: “I make without compromises, a few pieces a year. I don’t even try to sell”. Well, without these different opinions it would definitely be an inbred crowd. Discussions and variety of opinions could have been the side theme of Coolest Corner. A healthy part of the art field where variety is our strength.

Project manager Martina Kaufmann explains why the Coolest Corner event was able to take place now: “I think it was because we managed to get three institutions to come together and be equally responsible for the project. There fact that there were funding for the project from the very beginning made it easier to get support. Our enthusiasm about the project must be mentioned as well. That was a very important factor”. Martina explains that the Norwegian management committee wants to take this opportunity to increase the jewellery awareness as well as maintain and encourage a strong network.

So is it possible to see where the Nordic jewellery is heading? It is clear that the Nordic network is strong and that new talents are establishing. When it comes to the future of the From the Coolest Corner exhibition - it is without a doubt heading on a tour. Planned stops are Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallinn, Gothenburg and during Schmuck 2015 Munich will also get a visit. The organization team hopes to spark ideas in the visited cities about parallel programs with satellite exhibitions in adjunction to the Coolest Corner, so that each town can show their right temperature.

*From the archives of die Neue Sammlung 2012, Pinakothek der Moderne-2016-2016

Top image: Necklace Oh My Deer by Anna Talbot, 2011 (Norway)
Materials: Readymade, anodised aluminium, silver, lacquer, brass.
Size: 15x17x8 cm

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Anna Rikkinen. Photograph: A Dutch encounter V, 2011. 80x60 cm. Anna Rikkinen
Photograph: A Dutch encounter V, 2011
80x60 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Anna Rikkinen. Necklace: A Dutch encounter I-V. Lacquered wood, paper yarn, rope, bobbins, silver, cotton ribbon. Anna, RikkinenNecklaces: A Dutch encounter I-VLacquered wood, paper yarn, rope, bobbins, silver, cotton ribbon. Anna Rikkinen
Necklace: A Dutch encounter I-V
Lacquered wood, paper yarn, rope, bobbins, silver, cotton ribbon

Anna, Rikkinen
Necklaces: A Dutch encounter I-V
Lacquered wood, paper yarn, rope, bobbins, silver, cotton ribbon

© By the author. Read Copyright.
Kim Buck. Sculpture: Bonsai, 2012. Birchwood. Kim Buck
Sculpture: Bonsai, 2012
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Stefan Heuser. Brooch: A Master of Self-Control Narrated, 2011. 500 sleeping pills, gold. 13x10x8 cm. From the exhibition Aftermath of Art jewellery at the Vigeland Museum, Oslo.. Stefan Heuser
Brooch: A Master of Self-Control Narrated, 2011
500 sleeping pills, gold
13x10x8 cm
From the exhibition Aftermath of Art jewellery at the Vigeland Museum, Oslo.
© By the author. Read Copyright.