Every thing that is not a whole is a part (of some-thing): chips, components, divisions, elements, flakes, fractions, fragments, morsels, particles, percentages, pieces, portions, scraps, segments, shards, shreds, slivers, snatches, snippets, specks, wisps. All are parts of something, and that thing is almost certainly larger — larger and probably, but not necessarily, more significant.
A fragment comes from somewhere, from some-thing; from some-thing that has been broken in order to give rise to it; from something that is able to be broken — something brittle, fragile, frangible. A fragment is not the same as a segment, where separation from the parent appears predestined. As we have experienced, oranges and mandarins are segmented, apparently for our convenience. Fractals are another matter, in which the potential for apparently infinite iteration and replication into smaller and smaller parts resides within the whole. Not the same as a fragment, though the root of the word is the same: from the Latin frangere : broken. Breakage suggests an agency at work to cause the break: man(kind), woman(kind), child(Kind), animal (a cat feigning innocence), storm and tempest, earthquake, warfare, or simply an artist at work in her studio.
My fragments are almost always the result of breakage. Accidental or deliberate. Through my agency, or another.
A whole is a thing that is complete — the entirety of something. A fragment indicates that the whole (from which it came) is incomplete; that some-thing (the fragment) is missing from it — from the whole-which-is-not-whole. Something is broken, is deficient, flawed. The fragment on its own raises questions about both its genesis and its relationship to the whole from which it came. Might there be other, similar (or dissimilar) fragments? Is the parental body entirely shattered, fragmented, or just chipped, partly damaged? How and why did this occur?
The fragment itself has the potential to become autonomous, as a representative of its “parental whole” (if not as a representative of wholeness) as well as a representative of the broken-ness, damage, the imperfection, the in-completeness of its parental whole. Inherently, it also denotes — as archetype, prototype, or symbol — more universal ideas of in-completeness and possibilities for representation. (To speak of the thing from which the fragment came as parental might also imply the need for care, for nurturing. Parental does indicate a source or origin of smaller, possibly less important parts; but its root, as well its more common use, implies a person, animal or plant from which younger ones are derived, the production and nurturing of offspring. As we make our jewels, do we nurture their
growth? I think so.)
On my bench are many bits and pieces of things — fragments. Predominantly, they are fragments of stone. They are also fragments of possibility. Bits and pieces of ideas about what might become . . . something more complete. At what point does the selection, formation and combination of material components become an autonomous thing? In the imagination of the jeweller? In sketches or working drawings? In material tests and experiments? In the thing in progress — the progress of the fragment, or of bits and pieces, towards autonomy. During the journey through “work in progress” to, in this case, brooch? When I pick up a piece of stone — a piece of the stuff of our world — because I have been working with it, among other materials, for years, something happens, whether I have shaped it myself or modified a fortuitous “break” or simply accepted the shape as it occurred. Then, as I carve it, engrave it, paint it, abrade or polish it, it becomes something else — some-thing moving towards completion. Some-thing that will be contemplated, interrogated, scrutinized, and possibly worked and re-worked again and again. What appears most likely to render it complete is the process of setting it in a metal frame sporting an elegantly apposite brooch pin. Then the fragment is a brooch. An almost complete thing. But not quite. It lacks a wearer to make it complete.
Now it has one.
Still we are not satisfied.
Being worn, the brooch, or its wearer, lacks a viewer, an admirer.
Then it will be complete.
Such is the lot of the jeweller, of the wearer, of the fragment with a sense of destiny.
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As I walk along the shore, where the ebb tide has left bits and pieces — shells, seaweed, plastic bags and bottles, pebbles, flotsam and jetsam if it has been stormy — I sometimes pick up a shell, a smooth pebble. Even if the shell appears perfect, without its resident it is incomplete; and the perfectly smooth pebble, expelled from the greater mass of our world, of which is now but a fragment, has been beautifully formed and tumble-polished in the ocean of aeons. These things, whether they appear to be fragmentary or complete, are representatives of a greater whole.
(Matilda doesn't visit the beach, but any fragment, including those on my workbench, can assume autonomy as an imaginary mouse.)
About the author
Margaret West is an artist who sometimes makes jewellery; she writes: mostly poetry essays. She has exhibited widely in Australia overseas. She lives in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.
About this blog
Touching the thingness of words the wordness of things.
Weight of butterfly28Jun2012
A Rare Treat16May2012
Dusting, Rules, Madness06Apr2012
? more or less ?17Feb2012
A wedge-shaped slice01Jul2011
Then one thing leads to another17Jun2011
Knocked out by jewellery infection25Mar2011
rain . . . rain . . .22Mar2011