Preziosa 2017 - Florence Jewellery Week was a party, a major happening during which people were able to meet and exchange views in a stimulating, professional and friendly environment.
Visitors from Italy and the rest of Europe, but also from Latin America, India and China…. inquisitive, interested and exacting members of the public filled all the events of PREZIOSA 2017.
The quality of the invited artists, the carefully designed presentations, the rich and varied programme of lectures and the welcome offered to guests and visitors, thanks also to the participation of LAO students, conferred further prestige on an event which since 2005 has contributed significantly to the promotion of jewellery culture.
The decision to maintain and expand the “Jewellery Week” formula, after the success of the 2015 edition, turned out to be a achievement beyond all expectations.
Welcome, meeting and info point
The welcome and information point for Preziosa 2017 was set up in LAO detached venues in Palazzo Capponi. The many visitors who had registered for the lectures and exhibitions received free gifts of the LAO bag with the Preziosa Young 2017 catalogue, together the Florence Jewellery Week T-shirt and a pin, and the lovely chain-pass created by LAO students led by Zhang Muzi.
Press conference and opening
The Preziosa 2017 press conference was held on 24th of May morning, at Museo Bellini, with the participation of the Florence Municipal Alderman, Cecilia del Re, and in the presence of the numerous Italian and foreign journalists who had come to Florence for the occasion. In the afternoon of the same day the exhibitions were officially opened to the public, and visitors were guided along an itinerary that enabled them to discover one exhibition after another.
For the opening of the exhibitions on the three different sites we chose an “itinerant” opening, a unused formula in Florence. The first appointment, at 17.00, was at the Galleria Botticelli; the tour continued on to the Galleria del Palazzo Coveri, where the Director, Beatrice Cifuentes, was there to meet us at 18.00; and at 19.00 the exhibitions held in the Museo Bellini opened.
In spite of the unusual time and day (Wednesday), there was already a large number of people at the Galleria Botticelli, and they gradually grew to become a real crowd in the rooms of Museo Bellini. There were many people connected with the jewellery world, lots of whom had come a long distance, and then a huge number of visitors intrigued by a contemporary art event, particularly rare in Florence. Visitors had the chance to talk with the artists and the curators who were at the opening.
The opening evening ended with a dinner on the terrace of the Museo Bellini attended by the artists, the lecturers and others LAO guests.
The elegant premises of this beautiful antiques shop played host to the exhibition entitled Contemporary Swedish Silver. New approaches to an enduring tradition, curated by the excellent Inger Wästberg, who also gave an interesting lecture on Swedish contemporary jewellery.
The objects exhibited show how the tradition of silver-working in Sweden can take on new life in today’s design. This almost always involves contemporary and sometimes ironic reworkings of objects in daily use, in particular teapots, salad dishes and cups. The works are by a group of seven young artists who share the same studio and gallery in Stockholm: Erik Tidäng, Petronella Eriksson, Lena Jerström, Klara Eriksson, Tobias Birgersson, Maki Okamoto and Pernilla Sylwan, the latter being in Florence to represent the group together with Inger Wästberg.
Galleria di Palazzo Coveri
The Galleria di Palazzo Coveri on the Lungarno Guicciardini is a marvellous exhibition venue curated by Beatrice Cifuentes. The large white-painted hall, very spacious and bright, was the perfect frame in which to present the objects by the winners of the international Preziosa Young 2017 competition: Fang Jin Yeh, Quian Wang, Shachar Cohen and Xiaodai Huang.
At the opening of the conferences on 26th May, Giò Carbone told Shachar Cohen of the award of the special Inhorgenta Fair special prize, which consists of a free exhibition space at the 2018 fair, while he awarded Quian Wang the special LAO prize, which consists of a three-month stay in Florence as Artist in Residence.
The crowds of visitors who gathered at the Museo Bellini had the opportunity to view the works by artists of established fame who had set up their personal exhibitions.
In the exhibition “iNACARME! An obsession by mother of pearl” Tasso Mattar and Danni Schwaag presented their recent collections of jewellery in mother of pearl. The two artists belong to different generations, but are both “obsessed”, as they themselves admit, with this fascinating organic material, which they have succeeded in transforming into unique, intriguing jewellery pieces with their creativity.
While mother-of-pearl was the highlighted material for Tasso and Danni, the uniqueness of the jewellery by Sibylle Umlauf was expressed in the constant exploration of the contrast between the hardness and darkness of iron, and the brightness and softness of pure gold. Using working techniques which she has honed over time and which derive from the Japanese Nunome Zogan, the artist creates pieces of jewellery with a beauty that can be confusing in their force of expression.
In the adjacent room there were the splendid, delicate pieces of jewellery by the Japanese Arata Fuchi. This artist takes inspiration from nature and from the Japanese concept of beauty, and over years of study has perfected a special technique called “silver pulverization” which makes the surfaces rough and irregular. To this technique Arata adds minute details using granulation or the traditional Korean technique of Kumboo. There is meticulous attention to detail in the artist’s works, but above all there is a truly notable sense of purity and harmony.
The other personal exhibition in the Museo Bellini was that of the Australian Robert Baines, who boasts an extraordinary curriculum of exhibitions and lectures and honoured everyone with his presence in Florence. The exhibition, entitled High Wire, presents jewellery created with workmanship that is completely out of the ordinary. The objects are constructed in an extremely complex way, and in some ways remind you of some of Kandinsky’s pictorial compositions. Shapes, lines and designs intertwine and develop in all directions, overlay each other and mix together in a scheme which at first appears random, but which is probably governed by a precise, intended order.
The exhibition itinerary concluded with the collective Jwahr, New Iranian and Persian Jewelry. Thanks to a collaboration with the ARIA GALLERY in Teheran and to the curatorship of Kevin Murray, we were able to get to know the work of the young Iranian artists Anahita Anasseri, Ashkan Behjou, Atoosa Mokhaberi, Baharak Omidfar, Beaina Minasvand, Ghazaleh Nasseri, Mahnaz Seyed Ekhtiary, Mehrnoosh Ganji, Narges Asadinejad, Nikoo Nooriyan, Niloofar Naadi, Saiedeh Davoudi, Shahrzad Aliyari Maleki and Sharmagh Eskandarian.
In the spirit of PREZIOSA, we offered space to artists from a country that does not have an established history of contemporary jewellery research. Preziosa would like to continue to offer more opportunities to these countries and young artists. Most of the visitors understood this spirit and did not make qualitative comparisons between the works by these artists and those by those more established, who all came from countries in which contemporary jewellery has a history going back at least 50 years.
A brightly-coloured, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural crowd filled the area set up for the lectures, the Sala Capitolare inside the beautiful, atmospheric cloister of Santo Spirito.
People of all ages, artists, students, jewellers and art lovers attentively followed and participated in all the lectures over the two intensive days of 26th and 27th May.
Inger Wastberg, curator of the exhibition at the Galleria Botticelli, opened the cycle of lectures on the first day, and spoke about the recent developments in jewellery research in Sweden and how it has evolved over the last ten years, with references to modernism and the struggles of the feminist movement. Inger illustrated the work of some artists in the Swedish contemporary jewellery panorama such as Sara Borgegård Älgå, Catarina Hällzon, Märta Mattsson, Hanna Hedman, Agnes Larsson, Tobias Alm, Carolina Gimeno, Auli Laitinen, Åsa Skogberg, Charlotte Sinding, Åsa Skogberg and Aud Charlotte Ho Sook Sinding.
Martina Dempf, jewellery designer, gallery owner and social anthropologist, who among other things has studied African ethnic jewellery in depth, spoke about wood as a material with enormous potential and which is open to multiple working techniques – a material which has been a source of inspiration for numerous artists with different styles but who share a respect for this natural material and for nature itself.
With his lecture entitled Traditions at hand: A renaissance in global art jewellery, Kevin Murray, curator of the Iranian jewellery exhibition in Museo Bellini, led us on a metaphorical and cultural journey through various areas and cultures in the world, and made us reflect on how many countries, while remaining connected with their own traditions, show an interest and expansion in the sphere of contemporary jewellery research. Via a global panorama, Kevin showed how the religions, customs, symbols, values and histories of every country should be preserved and renovated to enable them to live in the present.
The Jewellery creator and historian Roberta Bernabei, Italian by birth and English by adoption, was the first history of jewellery teacher at LAO before moving definitively to Great Britain.
Roberta spoke about how the integration of traditional jewellery techniques and digital technology can contribute to improving the health life of people afflicted by serious ailments or the consequences of accidents, through the creation of jewellery/devices that can, for example, stimulate the memory in people suffering from Alzheimer’s. A very involving lecture which led us to reflect on how creativity combined with artisan know-how, technical competence and social conscience can produce positive effects on people’s daily existence, improving their quality of life.
To close the first day of lectures, the jeweller and professor Robert Baines spoke about how jewellery entered the history of costume and what influence it had had. The speaker wondered if jewellery could be a measure of a time, and gave his reply in poetry, rhythmic, in time, inclusive and bright, just like his jewellery exhibited at Museo Bellini.
The first day of lectures ended with a dinner organized in the LAO premises in Palazzo Capponi.
These socializing and sharing moments were very important for everybody, because allowed the guests to get to better know each other on a personal as well as professional level.
A unique opportunity to exchange opinions, create contacts and taste Italian cooking!
The second day of lectures was opened by the American David Loepp, who works in the field of archaeo-jewellery and archaeo-metallurgy in Rome. David presented his research relating to a granulated piece dating to the III-II century B.C., recently found in a tomb in Oman
The speaker has reproduced the object in his workshop, and explained the results of his work to the numerous and attentive audience. It was a technical lecture, but one which succeeded in transmitting the artist’s care and passion for his work and his wide-ranging knowledge.
The next lecture was by Maria Laura La Mantia, jewellery designer and History of Jewellery teacher. This was a sort of lesson on the history of jewellery filtered through the representation of celestial symbols, found in various forms over the centuries and in various cultures, which since antiquity have been a means of reading the destiny of mankind. An enthusiastic, detailed and exhaustive intervention which opened up another door to reflection for the fans of this art form.
Maria Cristina Bergesio, art historian specialized in contemporary jewellery, curator of many PREZIOSA events and for many years teacher of contemporary jewellery history at LAO, gave a short fulminating talk in which she suggested points for reflection that were most interesting. Provocatively, Maria Cristina proposed a view of contemporary jewellery as a world that is paradoxical, back-to-front, with illogical rules, just like Alice’s Wonderland. Her lecture was bright and stimulating, capturing the attention of the large audience and leaving questions to be reflected on and discussed further.
Shruti Agrawal is an Indian jewellery designer who makes pieces for a selected clientele and works in India and Italy together with her sister. Shruti explained the profound significance that jewellery, and in particular body decoration, have in Indian culture and society.
In her talk, which explored the mostly spiritual meanings and objectives of permanent or temporary body decorations, Shruti also explained how people pay a lot of attention to choosing organic materials from plants and flowers, and how this still represents a deep-rooted respect for “mother Earth”.
Tasso Mattar, a German jeweller and sociologist who currently lives in Spain, spoke about the range of motivation and inspiration that organic materials have provided to artists.
Tasso explained how crowns and symbols of power had been inspired by nature (laurel crowns, ears of wheat…) and then moved on to the rules of the schools and academies in the 1970s, when the use of organic motifs or materials was actually prohibited, until the present, when finally everyone is free to use the materials and techniques they prefer.
At the end of his lecture, Tasso Mattar presented Giò Carbone with the David 2017 prize, a recognition of his work and commitment to the promotion of jewellery culture. In the past, this prize had been awarded to:
Prof. Friedrich Becker (teacher, Dusseldorf), 1984;
Barbara Cartidge (gallery owner, London), 1987
Rüdiger Joppinien (art historian, Hamburg), 1984;
Peter Nickl (manager of SCHMUCK, Münich); 2001;
David Zbignief Kraska (director of Legniza Festival); 2014;
Brigitte Moser (events’ organizer, Zug, Switzerland); 2015.
This second and final day of lectures closed with a contribution from Petra Holscher, curator of the Neue Sammlung at the Design Museum of the Pinacothek der Moderne in Münich, home to the most important collection of contemporary jewellery in the world.
She spoke about this magnificent collection, using rare images to illustrate its history from its earliest days until the present. Petra was also able to explain how the presentation of the objects, their positioning and the lighting used were important for this type of collection.
After the lectures, LAO offered a concert in San Felice in Piazza church. The soprano Nicola Beller Carbone and the string quartet from the “Carlo Cavalieri” orchestra provided the music for the large audience, performing 10 songs about love with lyrics by Bertold Brecht and music by Johannes Martin Kranzle.
The day could not have ended in a better way.
Workshops and master-classes at LAO main premises and laboratories
Kevin Murray‘s class examined the role that jewellery, and especially promissory jewellery (for example, but not exclusively, the engagement ring), can have in social relationships and different social situations.
Robert Baines based his seminar on the concept from which his own jewellery creations originate: lines, spaces and shapes that intermingle in infinite ways to create a new, original harmony.
Martina Dempf offered a practical seminar in which she suggested creative solutions for producing jewellery which use wood. This was a visual extension of the lecture she had given earlier in the event.
Tasso Mattar also worked with a group of LAO and external students, using various organic materials with the minimum of disruption to the materials themselves, but trying to bring already-defined shapes out of them and creating metal structures to support them in a non-invasive way.
Demonstrations of craftsmanship
The afternoon of 28th May saw a party in the courtyard of the school main premises, in which all the invited artists took part, mixing in with the numerous visitors who came and went during the afternoon to admire the craftspeople from various disciplines who provided live demonstrations. First of all some teachers at LAO: Giuseppe Casale and Filippo Vinattieri with the art of burin engraving; Francesco Pinzauti and his assistants with stone-setting; and Monica Amato with stone-cutting. With them there were many external guests: Marco Paci with the Florentine mosaic; Luigi Barato with fold forming and anticlastic forging; Antonio Spitaletta with cameo engraving; Giotto Scaramelli with the ancient art of basket weaving; the street artist Tommaso Brogini, and the marble and mosaic workers of the CFC company in Florence, with the fluorescent Florentine mosaic, gypsum and marble sculpture.
There were also the children from the Associazione Paesaggi e Giardini, who produced miniature gardens in collaboration with the Orto Bioattivo group.
And to refresh us on a summery afternoon, there was Vivoli’s ice-cream from a well-known Florentine bottega who produce high-quality ice-cream and who had been booked by LAO to provide everyone with ice-cream prepared on the spot…
The amazing musical group Venus In Punk, which includes people who work at LAO including the saxophonist Mauro Vegliante, closed the evening by getting everyone to dance.
The atmosphere was that of a great party, friendly, relaxed and enjoyable – the perfect conclusion to an intense and very interesting Florence Jewellery event.
Comments by the invited artists and curators:
"Intensive time! I was very pleased to be at this year's Florence Jewellery Week and learn more about your wonderful organisation. I was especially impressed by the feeling among the students, who seemed so happy to be studying at LAO”. Kevin Murray.
“Thank you so much for including me in PREZIOSA 2017. It was a great treat to be under the wings of LAO. The gallery venue for the silver exhibition was just perfect and I am very happy for the outcome. Thank you for finding the place. I thank you again and congratulations for the way you have arranged the exhibitions, lectures”. Inger Wästberg,
“Being back in Munich I would like to thank you for the invitation to come to LAO and held the lecture. Incredible days are laying after me - a lot of people I’ve never met before and now I’ve spent some time with them, had interesting discussions and maybe we are doing something together some time”. Petra Holscher
“Preziosa 2017 has finished. It has left many impressions and memories of meetings with very interesting people. The numerous high-quality exhibitions, the days dedicated to the lectures, the special settings will all remain in my memory. The affectionate care of the students/guardian angels also belongs to the “human” conception of the PREZIOSA project. If you think of all the barbaric things that are happening in the world in this period, events like PREZIOSA have an ethical as well as an aesthetic value. Mille grazie!” Sibylle Umlauf
“The exhibitions at the Bellini Museum was a most enjoyable meeting point for the artists and I really appreciate the opportunity to make new friendships.
The Preziosa Young Contest 2017 showed four superb jewellery philosophies and this is an ongoing landmark event providing a very significant survey for young jewellers around the world. FJW is to be applauded and praised for this ongoing initiative. I was most appreciative of the LAO administrative staff and their kindness and supportive manner”. Robert Baines
“Not only enjoying working with organic material, but the whole stay you invited me to join in: Florence, Hotel, exhibition at Bellini, the conferences, the evening with Nicola's concert and the supper at Santa Rosa. The workshop, the students and Luigi. And how the stuff organized the events: familiar and professional, a combination you find very seldom. That Sunday, with the craftsmen in the patio with ICECREAM !! Fortunately I know a lot of people, because I love to swarm about these events. Tasso Mattar
For Martina Dempf, who was part of the jury for Preziosa Young, it was a great satisfaction to see the selected pieces displayed so well, and in her opinion the choice of the Galleria Coveri as exhibition site was excellent, the objects were well-displayed and lighted. Martina repeated the importance of competitions like Preziosa Young which allow young artists to be seen.
David Loepp much appreciated the organization and the selection of the works selected for the exhibitions, noting that while the artists’ styles of expression were varied there was a clear perception of strong, conclusive technical expertise.
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