Jewel purpose

Miriam Cadji on how the Louisa Guinness Gallery is linking high art with functional design

Taking its cue from New York’s A/D Gallery, which pioneered the idea that artists could be commissioned to create functional objects, the gallery has a clear agenda to ‘promote the fusion of art and design’, and rather than attempt to curate the show with a strict theme, the contemporary artists invited to take part in the show were given a totally open brief.

‘A trained designer has guidelines and barriers already set up, but with an artist everything can be freer and more experimental,’ explains Hardy. ‘The finished object might be more flawed in a design sense, but that can serve to make it even more beautiful.’

The profile of designers has rocketed in the past 15 years, and the blurred boundary between ‘high art’ and functional design is well documented. Mass-produced, designed objects – whether shoes, bottle openers, cushions, brooches or salad servers – are often exquisitely lit and displayed with the same reverence previously only afforded to an Old Master. Crossing disciplines and embracing commercial ventures has become totally acceptable: artist Sam Taylor-Wood, who works mainly with video and photography, directed Elton John’s video I Want Love and wrapped the Selfridges store façade in 2000.

For this show, Taylor-Wood has collaborated with jewellery designer Shaun Leane, famed for his work with Alexander McQueen. Together they created a limited edition diamond necklace with Gothic lettering. For his necklaces, Gormley has used alabaster and his trademark steel, and Kapoor has worked in solid gold.

Among the classic objects from the past (some of which are on loan and not for sale), are the pieces that Calder made for his friends and family. He was so passionate about jewellery that he resorted to using hammered brass when precious metals were not available during the Depression, and reportedly stole silver cutlery from his kitchen to take to the studio where he would melt it down to make objects.

Also on show are some jewellery by Italian artist Lucio Fontana, alongside the brooch, Petite Venus Bleue, that Yves Klein created using his staple International Klein Blue pigment. When left in its Perspex case, the brooch doubles as a miniature sculpture.

Prices will range from £1000 up to £50 000 and the organiser believes interest will be so high, it is already planning another jewellery show to take place next year.

Past and Present is on show from 27 November at the Louisa Guinness Gallery, 19 Elden House, 90 Sloane Avenue, London SW3. Also see

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