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.