The Design Museum’s Unexpected Pleasures

Around this time of year, it seems that everything is glittering, shiny, and shouting ‘look at me’ to anyone who’ll listen.

 Felieke van der Leest - Yellow Kelly, 2008.

Source: Photography Eddo Hartmann

Felieke van der Leest – Yellow Kelly, 2008.

It’s apt, then, that today sees the opening of the Design Museum’s show of contemporary jewellery, Unexpected Pleasures, with exhibition design by Ab Rogers and exhibition graphics by Jonathan Barnbrook.

David Bielander – Scampi, 2007.
David Bielander – Scampi, 2007.

The exhibition celebrates the best in contemporary jewellery from around the world, looking not only at the aesthetics of the works, but also questioning ‘what we value and regard as precious’, according to the Design Museum.

Karl Fritsch - Screw Ring, 2010
Karl Fritsch – Screw Ring, 2010

Starting with the beginnings of the contemporary jewellery movement in the 1970s, the show traces the new processes and constant experimentation that have characterised the practice until the modern day.

Kiko Gianocca - Who Am I?, 2008-11

Source: Photography Jeremy Dillon

Kiko Gianocca – Who Am I?, 2008-11

The role of ‘preciousness’, says the museum, has gradually moved away from the idea of monetary value and instead has come to represent the idea of the personal association we can feel to the pieces.

Esther Knobel – Warrior Brooches, 1983-5.

Source: Photography David Ward

Esther Knobel – WarriorBrooches, 1983-5.

Curator Dr. Susan Cohn, herself a jewellery designer and maker, has arranged the exhibition into three themes.

Tiffany Parbs – Blister-ring, 2005

Source: Photography by Terence Bogue

Tiffany Parbs – Blister-ring, 2005

The first, Worn Out, highlights the experience of wearing jewellery on the body, and as such, pieces are displayed at the height at which they would appear on a person.

Shari Pierce – 34 Sexual Offenders and 2 Sexual Predators from within a 5 mile radius

Source: Photography: Mason Douglas

Shari Pierce – 34 Sexual Offenders and 2 Sexual Predators from within a 5 mile radius

The Linking Links part of the show examines how jewellery can be used to delineate narratives and meanings, while the final theme, A Fine Line, shows how contemporary jewellery today has been informed by the styles that preceded it, highlighting key figures within the movement.

Unexpected Pleasures, exhibition design by Ab Rogers
Unexpected Pleasures, exhibition design by Ab Rogers

Unexpected Pleasures runs until 3 March 2013 at the Design Museum Shad Thames, London SE1

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