Petal power: a glittering garden blossoms on London’s Bankside

’Plum blossom’ and ’Bamboo’ brooch, by Anna Gordon, 2017
’Plum blossom’ and ’Bamboo’ brooch, by Anna Gordon, 2017.
(Image credit: Shannon Tofts)

Southwark’s Contemporary Applied Arts is paying homage to the flower motif in contemporary jewellery design. The exhibition ‘Bloomin’ Jewels’ sees 22 designers create new flora inspired pieces.

Naturalistic floral motifs pollinated the world of jewellery during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries – but by the 1960s, more conceptual and avant-garde ideas took hold. The aim of this exhibition, explains guest curator and prolific design critic Corinne Julius, is to ‘challenge studio jewellers to look, perhaps for the first time, at how they might interpret the floral in contemporary ways’.

Some designers, like Silvia Weidenbach, have developed their own fantastical flowers via 3D printing, whereas others have integrated real petals, roots and insects into their designs. Anna Gordon looks at the ‘language of flowers’ in her four brooches inspired by seasonal orchids, bamboo, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. A more traditional take is also presented, through Gill Galloway-Whitehead's delicate, spun-wire ‘weed’ brooch, and Sonia Cheadle’s pavé-diamond stems. Julius believes the designers have 'given flowers a new place in the history of jewellery.’

The pieces are exhibited in botanical glass cloches. All the better for visitors to examine the detail of the designs – and adding to the playful biology-class feel, a magnifying glass is placed next to each.

’Neckpiece’, by Wendy Ramshaw, 2017.

’Neckpiece’, by Wendy Ramshaw, 2017.

(Image credit: Jayne Lloyd)

’Bombylius Major’, by Kathie Murphy, 2017

’Bombylius Major’, by Kathie Murphy, 2017.

(Image credit: Jayne Lloyd)

’Untitled’ brooch, by Gill Galloway-Whitehead, 2017

’Untitled’ brooch, by Gill Galloway-Whitehead, 2017.

(Image credit: Stephen Whitehead)

‘Bloomin’ Jewels’ is on view until 3 June. For more information, visit the Contemporary Applied Arts website


Contemporary Applied Arts
89 Southwark Street
London SE0 8UN


Elly Parsons is the Digital Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees and its social platforms. She has been with the brand since 2015 in various roles, spending time as digital writer – specialising in art, technology and contemporary culture – and as deputy digital editor. She was shortlisted for a PPA Award in 2017, has written extensively for many publications, and has contributed to three books. She is a guest lecturer in digital journalism at Goldsmiths University, London, where she also holds a masters degree in creative writing. Now, her main areas of expertise include content strategy, audience engagement, and social media.