FADA Gallery in association with the Contemporary Jewellery Forum is proud to announce the launch of the first ever South African Contemporary Jewellery Awards Exhibition. Created to promote jewellery as an innovative and creative medium for personal expression, the aim of the Awards Exhibition is to provide a platform for cutting-edge concepts and ideas for unique and original art jewellery. The curated exhibition will honour excellence in the field, showcasing the work of artists who realise their creative ideas and concepts from a body adornment perspective.
The major driving criteria in recognising excellence are creativity and innovation; thinking through design and craft, while embracing advancements in technology. The work will feature in a peer-reviewed catalogue, contributing to research and development, while stimulating cultural production in the field. Artists are encouraged to explore a diverse range of materials, techniques and processes that best express their creative ideas and concepts. The creative platform will ultimately stimulate dialogue among the jewellery community within South Africa in the 21st century, broadening the scope of creative output in the field/sector.
The judging panel for the South African Contemporary Jewellery Awards Exhibition consists of some of the top practising contemporary art jewellers and educators in the world: Lin Cheung, Johan van Aswegen, Geraldine Fenn, Eugene Hön and Carine Terreblanche. Finalists will be announced on 5 March, with the exhibition opening on Thursday 15 March at the FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg.
Lin Cheung describes herself as a jewellery artist taking unceasing curiosity, enthusiasm and knowledge for jewellery thinking, making, wearing, craftsmanship and conceptual approach far and wide, often into areas outside of the traditional craft sector. She has worked on projects as diverse as designing Paralympic medals, to designing and producing the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize Award Diplomas.
Cheung considers jewellery as a subject to explore, not just materially but also conceptually. Her portfolio of recent work is characterised by an unhindered approach to a variety of craft processes, materials and ideas in the realisation of new jewellery pieces. Delayed Reactions is an ongoing series of carved gemstone brooches inspired by the wearing of pin badges that respond to events that are political, social and personal in meaningful, witty and poignant ways. Pearl Necklace is a series of chains made from carved pearls linked together, originally inspired by the reworking of an old pearl necklace her mother gave her and that she never wore. Keep is a wry look at some of the ways that Cheung stores and protects her own jewellery: unceremoniously tucked in corners of plastic grip seal bags, wrapped like a slice of cake in kitchen paper, scrunched up in a tissue, folded in a handkerchief or secured with paper and an elastic band.
Cheung exhibits and publishes her work extensively and internationally, in solo shows and major group exhibitions. In 2001, she won the Arts Foundation Award for jewellery and in 2017 was a finalist for the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Craft Prize. Her work received the 2018 Françoise van den Bosch Award. Cheung is a Senior Lecturer on the BA (Hons) Jewellery Design course at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London.
Johan van Aswegen
Johan van Aswegen is an artist and educator. His work is rooted in the traditions of jewellery making and metal work. The dialogue of the object with the wearer to the viewer is of great importance to him. Romantic notions of bestowing, coveting and memorialising objects that live beyond their original intent are key to his jewellery creations. The scale and tone of his jewellery pieces are monumental, with subtle arrangements of historical references blended with classical forms to embody the purity of contemporary ornamentation.
Johan van Aswegen’s work, showcased here, was made for a local/international travelling exhibition. The work Tieroog Tiara demonstrates his characteristically South African design approach to jewellery and metal work. The body of the tiara is of mild steel, the grill is bi-metal (22k gold/sterling) and the gold facing is also of steel. The frames are tiger eye gemstones with enamel/decal images.
He is currently working on a group of tubular necklaces referencing the panoramic landscape. He makes use of enamels and decal imagery to compress and distort the vast landscapes so as to heighten the contrast against the scale of the human body.
Van Aswegen obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, specialising in jewellery, from the University of Stellenbosch in 1984. His mentor, Dieter Dill, was one of the stalwarts of education and training in the local jewellery sector. In 1990 he graduated with a Master’s Diploma from the Akademie der Bildende Künste, Muchen, Germany.
Since 1996 he has held the position of senior critic, Jewellery and Metalsmithing at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, USA. He has exhibited widely in museums, galleries and has work in numerous private collections.
Geraldine Fenn’s jewellery pieces are often layered and figurative in style. She prefers to make use of motifs associated with historical jewellery that is overly/overtly sentimental. She generally works with precious materials such as silver, gold, diamonds, pearls and other precious stones. Where needed, she will incorporate less traditional materials such as plastics. Central to her design for manufacture is the concern for craftsmanship, a very important ingredient. All her pieces are handmade using traditional goldsmithing techniques.
Fenn’s current work is all about construction. She uses sheets of wax to build a piece, which is then cast into silver, purposefully ensuring the surfaces are quite rough – all part of the working method. All the imperfections – the marks from the casting sprues, small bubbles of metal that sometimes sit on the surface, marks that get left in the wax while it’s being handled are exploited to push the boundaries of how rough a finished piece of jewellery can be. The three pieces showcased here are part of her Rough Archetypes Series, where she reimagines classic forms of jewellery in a more contemporary way by using a rough construction method of cutting and bending sheets of wax and then casting them in silver or gold.
Many contemporary jewellery forms have been around for hundreds of years and Fenn appreciates this continuity in the goldsmithing tradition. Her contemporary pieces are thus a homage to those archetypal forms rather than a critique of them. For her, the enjoyment of seeing something new and different often comes from recognising the older form within it.
‘I’m playing around with very traditional forms in terms of the design, but reinterpreting them quite radically by using non-traditional ways of making the pieces.’
Geraldine Fenn is a contemporary jeweller based in Johannesburg. She is the co-owner of the celebrated Tinsel jewellery brand. Being proactive in the local jewellery sector, she often sources cutting-edge jewellery for exhibitions at her studio/gallery space. Fenn has a BA in Archaeology, and more recently she received her Honours in Art History before graduating with a Master’s degree in Fine Art from the University of the Witwatersrand. Fenn has also studied jewellery design at the Durban University of Technology (previously Durban Technikon).
Eugene Hön is a ceramic artist with a passion for drawing as ballpoint renderings. He has pursued a career as an academic and practising artist for the past 37 years. He is an artist that celebrates the handmade, developing concepts and ideas within the context of a globalised society. The jewellery installation piece featured here, capitalises on Hön’s detailed blue ballpoint pen drawings of a Barn Swallow, digitally printed as ceramic transfers and fired onto one of the shards of a broken bone china bowl. The work titled The Road Less Travelled comprises the partially restored bowl with its missing shard, metamorphosed into a jewellery pendant. Hön references shards that are critical in the research into cultural migrations – even more prevalent today in a global society with its problems surrounding the displacement of people.
Hön embraces the advancement in technology and the impact of the digital, while living in an information age. His experience as an academic and commitment to the development of the crafts has expanded his knowledge and honed his broad skills to include the teaching-in and the making of ceramics, sculpture, drawing, artist’s books, digital printing, animation, video or digital projection installation and ultimately design; industrial design and jewellery design and manufacture. His latest career development expands his broad creative output to include curating/curatorial practice, as the recently appointed director of the FADA Gallery at the University of Johannesburg.
Eugene Hön is a senior lecturer at the University of Johannesburg with a Master’s Degree in Ceramic Sculpture, from the University of Cape Town with teaching and learning experience across disciplines including ceramics, jewellery design and manufacture, architecture, industrial design and the visual arts. He has held numerous positions since joining the Technikon Witwatersrand in 1986 (merged with RAU in 2006 to become the University of Johannesburg). From 2009 -2014 he took up a position in the University of Johannesburg’s Jewellery Department. He has acted as a judge for the Anglo Gold competition and was a finalist in the SA Jewellery Council’s Jewellex Competition. He has had numerous one-person exhibitions, his latest was held at Elegance Jewellers in Melrose Arch in 2012. The exhibition included a range of jewellery, drawings, artist books and the release of a video of his ceramic installation with projected animation of his ballpoint pen drawings titled, ‘….and the ship sails on’ that celebrated the Chinese Year of the Dragon.
As a contemporary jeweller, the research interests of Carine Terreblanche include deconstructing the stereotypes of conventional/traditional jewellery and objects within a South African context. Her work thus challenges and questions the traditional approaches to goldsmithing and jewellery. Her art explores the boundaries of contemporary jewellery and fine art practice and also questions the body-object relationship.
Terreblanche’s objects are a result of the creative investigation into her own art practice (drawing, object making) and research over the last few years. The objects on display demonstrate a meditative, partially subconscious way of working. Each object originated in dreamy doodles that reveal themselves as a kind of metaphorical alphabet made from wood and metal.
The interpretation of the drawings into three-dimensional wood-carved or 3D printed designs represents the transition into a more conscious, controlled decision-making process. Terreblanche tries, as far as possible, to be led by the qualities of the materials and, as a result, some decisions are made intuitively, which is again similar to her subconscious drawing process. By using this method, one could argue that the form ‘finds itself’.
Depending on the way they are displayed and/or framed to fit into her questions about the boundaries of contemporary jewellery and fine art practices, some pieces can double up as objects/sculptures. Whether you see the work as sculptural jewellery, metaphorical ornament, lost letters of a forgotten language, dreams to be worn like rings and pendants, tiny whimsical décor, visual acid jazz or merely colourful nonsense, is entirely up to you.
Carine Terreblanche completed her BA in Fine Arts, BA (Hons) and an MA in Fine Arts at Stellenbosch University. She furthered her studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam during the 1993/94 academic years and went on to lecture at Stellenbosch University. In 2001, she left academia to work as a freelance goldsmith in Cape Town. In 2007, Terreblanche returned to Stellenbosch University as Senior Lecturer and Head Coordinator of the Creative Jewellery and Metal Design Division.
Terreblanche has participated in numerous, national and international contemporary jewellery exhibitions. The most notable of which were in 2009 and 2012 at the Schmuck exhibition and competition, hosted by the International Trade Fair in Munich, Germany. In 2015, she participated in Body Alchemy Contemporary International Jewelry and Metal Art Triennial at China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China. This exhibition was curated by Dutch jewellery artist, Ruudt Peters.