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True Colours - New Traditional Jewellery

African tribal necklaces, mourning beads, and old-school medallions have been given a new lease of life in the exhibition True Colours, currently on show at the Museum of Modern Art in Arnhem.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 24-02-2011

The exhibition accompanies the biannual jewellery design competition named New Traditional Jewellery which challenges contemporary jewellery designers from around the globe to create a modern interpretation of historical and ethnic pieces.

This year's theme was True Colours, and a broad selection showing the great diversity of the designs was chosen to be on show at the Museum of Modern Art Arnhem (MMKA) by curator Eveline Holsappel.
 
The exhibition takes over the first-floor mezzanine where the pieces are displayed in glass vitrines, bathed in natural light. Amongst brightly colored necklaces, brooches made with natural minerals and porcelain buttons the winners of the competition were presented. A central theme here was the inventive use of both ancient and contemporary materials such as Dutch designer Auk Russchen (Winner New Traditional Jewellery)'s brooch named Ode. This design featured the use of goat skin and thread - Russchen was inspired by an article on primitive people - materials used by prehistorical people.

Equally inventive, yet on the opposite side of the spectrum, was British-based Amanda Caines' Urban Tribal Necklace in which coloured telephone cord is intertwined with textile and beads. This elaborate piece is not only aesthetically beautiful, it has a double-meaning much like jewelry of the Zulu culture in Africa. Caines uses the telephone cord to symbolize our technology-saturated lives, combined with colours that represent her Anglo-Greek background.

In addition to the established designers there was also room for student prize winners; this year they were Penka Arabova's brooch called Marteniza and Serin Oh's ring named Empty Space of Time. Both young creatives refer to their home country (Bulgaria and Korea respectively) through their designs.

Dutch design is heavily represented in the exhibition with the likes of Floor Mommersteeg, Kirsten Spuijbroek (also part of the collection Remember Me),  and Ingeborg Vandamme to name but a few. Two of the Dutch designers chose to reinterpret the traditional Zeeuws jewellery piece, the so-called Zeeuws button. Willemijn de Greef's version takes the delicate shape and transforms it into a much more rough, enlarged interpretation made from wood and porcelain; the course rope necklace only adding to the necklaces rugged appearance. A more delicate approach is taken by Maryvonne Wellen who digitally printed a pattern onto a contemporary interpretation of the Zeeuws button in porcelain, giving it an almost tattooed appearance.

The traditional road was also taken by Ingeborg Vandamme in her piece Op zoek naar de ware Jocob, or Necklace looking for Mr. Right. This neck piece looks as though it was worn by traditional provincials years ago and combines symbols for fertility, love and power with a signage system to signal availability. A more humorous form of signage  is found in German-born designer Mirjam Fränkle's brooches Farbe bekennen! (Show you true colours!). This duo either reads 'Tourist' or 'Ich bin ein Berlinner' offering the opportunity to 'out' yourself as a tourist in another country, potentially embarrassing yourself along the way!

 A well-deserved mention goes out to Denise Julia Reytan's necklace entitled Show me Colours. Here, semi-precious stones, coloured textiles and even silicone is combined to create an extremely colorful, attractive piece of jewellery.  Inspired by the Indian culture, Reytan's work is "An interpretation of objects and colours that fascinate me, that show my personality and are representative of the age and culture I inhabit."

This year's jury were Marjan Unger (art historian and publicist), The Smeets (University of Applied sciences, Trier), AZIZ (fashion designer/ artist), Eveline Holsappel (Curator applied art and design, MMKArnhem), Chequita Nahar (jewellery designer, Coordinator Department Jewellery & Product Design, Academie Beeldende Kunsten Maastricht), Astrid Berens (Director SIERAAD Art Fair). The complete list of winners and participants can be found here. http://www.newtraditionaljewellery.com/

Click on the images to enlarge

Main image: Amanda Caines, photo: Francis Willemstijn
Other images top to bottom: 1. Auk Russchen, 2. Penka Arabova, 3. Serin Oh, 4. Floor Mommersteeg, 5. Kirsten Spuijbroek, 6. Willemijn de Greef, 7. Maryvonne Wellen, 8. Ingeborg Vandamme, 9. Mirjam Fränkle, 10. Denise Julia Reytan
photography 1, 2, 3,: Francis Willemstijn

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