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Porcelain decoration for the skin

Directional work from designers in the Netherlands is on show at the exhibition A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry at New York’s Museum of Art and Design.

By Katie Dominy /asdf 31-03-2011

A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry explores the recent revival of interest in the use of ceramics in jewellery through the work of 18 designers, including seven working in the Netherlands.

The exhibition features over 100 pieces and is curated by the German-born goldsmith and jewellery artist Monika Brugger.

The versatility of the medium of ceramics comes through clearly from the works on show, through the ability of the material to be modeled or cast, used alone or with metal, wood, and stone and able to vary in colour and texture. “Even though the Egyptians produced seal rings in faience, and the Greeks and Romans gilded terracotta to imitate gold, the use of ceramics in the fabrication of jewellery was abandoned centuries ago,” says curator Monika Brugger. “Today many artists, like those assembled in this show, are popularizing porcelain as a compelling material for jewelry.”

Jewellery designers featured include Netherlands-based Peter Hoogeboom, Evert Nijland, Willemijn de Greef, Ted Noten, Manon van Kouswijk, Gésine Hackenberg and Theri Tolvanen, as well as other international jewellery artists such as Marie Pendariès from Spain and Shu-Lin Wu from Taiwan.

We asked Monika Brugger the reasons for her inclusion of the Dutch designers in the show. Amsterdam-based Peter Hoogeboom’s work in the show includes his Spanish Collar, part of the Handle with Care collection, that refers back to the fragility of the porcelain it is made from. Monika Brugger says: “Peter Hoogeboom has worked with ceramics since 1996 and has developed in each collection a different approach, as well the questions he asks in his themes, it is the way he always uses a different format for the jewellery he proposes, and lastly, the way he uses the material makes his works exceptional and very unusual.”

“Evert Nijland is one of the designers using materials connected with the world of 'applied art'. He is important for his use of ornament and colour, yet also for the references to architecture and other porcelain manufacturers like Meissen. ” Nijland’s Rococo necklace is made of delicate porcelain tubes threaded onto a handwoven linen cord - like branches of a tree, sprouting roses and corals - which are hand painted in places.
Wilemijn de Greef  is often inspired by the traditional costumes and jewellery of the Zeeland area, where she grew up. Brugger comments on how “De Greef uses terracotta; she is the only one who uses a ‘rougher’ material and, of course, the references to 'kraplak red' and the inhabitants of the Zuiderzee for her works was one of the reasons behind choosing her.”

“Ted Noten has a very personal way of introducing his critic and his point of view towards society and the history of jewellery. He is not fixed in any style of jewellery, but if I can explain it like this, in the way he thinks about it, his work responds to us always in a very individual way.”
We also asked Monika Brugger why she thought designers were choosing to work with porcelain again? “Since the 1970s contemporary jewellery has become a field of experimentation in new arenas of art, design and artisanal creation. The artists use materials for their special qualities, in the case of ceramics – it also has a kind of ‘air du temps’.

Brugger also explained how the European Ceramic Work Centre in ‘s-Hertogenbosch started to offer artist-in-residencies in the late 1990s to jewellery designers such as Peter Hoogeboom, in a move to see how designers could find new way of using ceramics. The success of this project continues and has led to include more contemporary precious metal artist/makers, allowing them to explore the possibilities of incorporating ceramics in their creations.

A Bit of Clay on the Skin: New Ceramic Jewelry continues at the Museum of Art and Design, New York until 4 September 2011.

Click on the images to enlarge

Main image Spakenburg by Willemijn de Greef. 2009. From the series 'Zuiderzeewerken' photo Frans Kup
Other images: 1. Spanish Collar by Peter Hoogeboom. 1995. From the series: 'Handle with Care. photo : Henni van Beek 2. Rococo, Evert Nijland. 2009, photo Heddo Hartmann 3. Kitchen Necklace and plate by Koninkijke Tichelaar Makkum, Gésine Hackenberg. 2009, photo Gésine Hackenberg 4. Wearable gold 2, Ted Noten. 2000, photo : ATN, Atelier Ted Noten

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