Jewellery’s role as an arbiter of self-expression goes under the loupe at the ‘Precious Materials’ exhibition curated by visual artist Roxanne Simone, with ten jewellers considering issues of cultural identity and activism at Goldsmiths' Fair.
For Simone, the newly appointed RCA Black Chair and co-founder of Crucible, a platform for makers from the Global Majority and LGBTQIA community, the exhibition was a chance to take a deep-dive into her interests. ‘All the artists featured are people who have innovative ways of translating ideas and making and inviting conversations,’ Simone says. ‘Crucible has provided access to artists worldwide; in our publication for Munich Jewellery week 2021, in collaboration with Current Obsession magazine, we reached BIPOC people in all parts of the globe. During this time, I have taken great pleasure in learning about the creator of a piece; who they are, how they think and what narrative they invest in the material is just as important as the aesthetic or function.’
It is a philosophy Simone builds on with ‘Precious Materials’, which puts the spotlight on artists who embrace different materials and techniques in their crafts. ‘The exhibitors are primarily women; half are Black, Asian, and people of colour,’ Simone adds. ‘It was important for the work to speak to me first when selecting; however, given my access to platforms such as Crucible and institutions that I lecture at, it has been a pleasure to choose from various artists.’
Artists including Siobhan Wallace, Kassandra Lauren Gordon, Lili Murphy-Johnson and Sylver Mair consider themes from the sacrifices of the Windrush generation to the absurdities of social habits and conformities in pieces that distort traditional silhouettes and embrace unexpected materials.
‘The busiest moments have been ensuring all the artists have the support they need while exhibiting. We often forget that access to materials, support to show work and delivery talks are not always easy to navigate for some artists. A curator can ensure that artists are the priority when exhibiting by keeping in contact, supporting and talking through ideas. This is not a challenge but an excellent experience for anyone wishing to represent others’ works. I take a lot of pride in the work of others, as if it were my own.’
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Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.
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