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Designing Britain 1945 - 1975 > The New Jewellery > High New Jewelleryism 1977-1975
 
High New Jewelleryism 1977-1985
 
IMAGE 25 : British Jewellers on Tour In Holland  Catalogue cover
28 April – 18 June 1978
TNJ00854 IMAGE 25 : British Jewellers on Tour In Holland Catalogue cover
28 April – 18 June 1978

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Selected by Jerven Ober and opening in Apeldoorn, Holland on 28 April 1978 this touring exhibition crossed Holland throughout that year and into the next. With the Fourways exhibition also on tour that year, British jewellers' profiles were running high at this time. Netherlandish eyes – which had been very open to Dutch radical jewellery work from the likes of Gijs Bakker, Emmy van Leersum, and individuals like Onno Boekhoudt and Marion Herbst to name just a few – were much inspired and predisposed towards this new work from the U.K. Among the artists shown were Caroline Broadhead, Susanna Heron, David Poston, Julia Mannheim, Tom Saddington and David Watkins. Ralph Turner contributed a catalogue essay as did Jerven Ober, who went this far in praise of British work,
 
Modern Dutch jewellery…is conspicuous for its soberness and simplicity…Across the Channel things are different : more varied, livelier, more colourful, often somewhat exotic, regularly Pop-like.(30)
 
Those sorts of sentiments have rarely been heard from Dutch commentators since.
 
IMAGE 26 :  David Watkins  Electrum Gallery Exhibition card  May 8 – June 2  1979 TNJ00855 IMAGE 26 : David Watkins Electrum Gallery Exhibition card May 8 – June 2 1979

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IMAGE 27 :  David Watkins  Electrum Gallery Exhibition card  May 8 – June 2  1979 TNJ00856 IMAGE 27 : David Watkins Electrum Gallery Exhibition card May 8 – June 2 1979

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David Watkins already had, by the time of this exhibition, enjoyed international recognition and respect for his jewellery work. He was an important innovator in pre-New Jewellery history and continued to produce significant and influential work throughout the period which this account considers. He, along with his wife Wendy Ramshaw – another internationally feted jeweller – had been making unique work since the beginning of the 70s. They will prove to be an important case study for future jewellery historians, as they have been extraordinarily productive in their long – still very active – careers. This exhibition positioned Watkins as a maker of brilliant, articulate, superbly crafted objects in a variety of materials which still satisfied conditions of wearability, expression, and intelligence – essential to the Electrum ethos - while still capturing the imagination of New Jewellery thinkers. The issues of scale, colour, placement on the body (and off the body), conditions for jewellery as sculpture, jewellery as object of contemplation, the body as site-specific location, notions of jewellery’s wearability and boundaries were germane to artists at the time and were all very much to the fore in Watkin’s work. His was a steady hand operating in the intellectual and theatrical workshop that the New Jewellery was to soon to become.
 
IMAGE 28: Susanna Heron : Bodywork Exhibition
Crafts Council Gallery  16 April – 31 May 1980 TNJ00857 IMAGE 28: Susanna Heron : Bodywork Exhibition
Crafts Council Gallery 16 April – 31 May 1980

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IMAGE 29: Susanna Heron : Bodywork Exhibition
Crafts Council Gallery  16 April – 31 May 1980 TNJ00858 IMAGE 29: Susanna Heron : Bodywork Exhibition
Crafts Council Gallery 16 April – 31 May 1980

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This travelling exhibition organised by the Crafts Council (then at 12 Waterloo Place in London) followed a one year arts fellowship that Heron and her husband David Ward took in the United States. The exhibition featured works from her recent past and works resulting from the one year sabbatical from England. With Ward by now establishing himself as an expressive photographic interpreter of body and performance orientated jewellery, the show was inspiring, intriguing and challenging. With a series of images of projected light lines shined on her, the collaborative photographs offered a new meditation and reflection (literally) on the conditions for ‘jewellery’ and ‘body wear’. Provocations and speculations were being presented in an open-ended way in a ‘crafts’ gallery. De-centering the wearer of ‘normal’ jewellery; playing with the theatrical, voyeuristic and narcissistic nature of social bodies; producing wearables and photographables rather than objects of the goldsmith’s art and asking questions - not giving answers - were some of the notions being explored through the medium of jewellery in this show. A big New Jewellery leap forward was being taken.
 
IMAGE 30 :  ’ Things Seen’  Design  376  April 1980 TNJ00859 IMAGE 30 : ’ Things Seen’ Design 376 April 1980

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IMAGE 30 offers another example from the Design Council Archive of the Design Council’s occasional interest in promoting British jewellery – in this case responding to the provocative and very visual jewellery and body work by Susanna Heron (also see IMAGES 28/29).
 
IMAGE 31 : Schmuck International 1900-1980  Catalogue cover of exhibition held 26 June 1980 – 17 August 1980  Kunstlerhaus Wein TNJ00860 IMAGE 31 : Schmuck International 1900-1980 Catalogue cover of exhibition held 26 June 1980 – 17 August 1980 Kunstlerhaus Wein

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Although this exhibition held at the Kunstlerhaus in Vienna proved to be a hugely ambitious and inspiring show, it was this brilliant catalogue – so mundane-looking by its cover – that needs recognition here. It will be hard to relate to anyone what a whopping impact this catalogue had upon publication. Copies were jealously guarded in many a jewellery studio and art college for fear of letting anyone else in on the exciting, fresh and brilliant work to be seen within. Curated by the jeweller Peter Skubic, it was state of the art in its coverage of contemporary work, and with its excellent contextual historicising of exemplary past jewellery, provided everyone in the field with a deserving pride in their practice. The stark layout and black and white photographs set a standard – and a template for presenting jewellery – that was evident in catalogues for several years thereafter. Illustrating a heady mix of both contemporary advanced goldsmiths and some of the New Jewellers in their sometimes still transitional artistic phases – from makers of ‘proper’ jewellery to makers of a much more conceptual three dimensional object - this veritable sourcebook of current international trends of the time is essential documentational material. British participants included Pierre Degen, Caroline Broadhead, Susanna Heron and David Watkins among others.
 
IMAGE 32 :  A Guide to Tom Saddington’s Jewellery Performances : The Can and Cigarette Package Projects
Front and back covers of catalogue,  Arnolfini, Bristol and Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton,  October 1978 & 27 September 1980
TNJ00861 IMAGE 32 : A Guide to Tom Saddington’s Jewellery Performances : The Can and Cigarette Package Projects
Front and back covers of catalogue, Arnolfini, Bristol and Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton, October 1978 & 27 September 1980

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IMAGE 33 : A Guide to Tom Saddington’s Jewellery Performances : The Can and Cigarette Package Projects
Front and back covers of catalogue,  Arnolfini, Bristol and Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton,  October 1978 & 27 September 1980
TNJ00862 IMAGE 33 : A Guide to Tom Saddington’s Jewellery Performances : The Can and Cigarette Package Projects
Front and back covers of catalogue, Arnolfini, Bristol and Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton, October 1978 & 27 September 1980

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Working outside either the contemporary studio jewellery scene or the New Jewellery orbit, the idiosyncratic jeweller Tom Saddington had himself welded into a 6 foot long stainless steel flip top cigarette type packet, loaded onto a lorry for transport to the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol where it was opened with a circular saw to allow his escape. Following this, members of the audience were given "a little craft guidance" in wielding mallets in order to help crush the empty packet. "Watch the volunteers indulge in a craft activity"(31) announced the catalogue. This had led on from an earlier performance in 1978 at the same venue in which the jeweller had had himself welded into a giant stainless steel tin can and released with a giant tin opener. Saddington stated that he wanted to have " an insight into the notion of getting inside a piece of jewellery to wear it."(32) Another interesting interjection into the jewellery dialogue of the time.
 
IMAGE 34 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00863 IMAGE 34 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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IMAGE 35 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00864 IMAGE 35 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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IMAGE 36 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00865 IMAGE 36 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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IMAGE 37 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00866 IMAGE 37 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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IMAGE 38 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00867 IMAGE 38 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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IMAGE 39 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design  magazine  No. 388  April 1981 TNJ00868 IMAGE 39 : ‘Buried Treasure’ article in Design magazine No. 388 April 1981

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As discussed earlier, the Design Council did not see jewellery sitting comfortably within its remit, and only occasionally paid attention to it. But it was evident to the editor of Design – rightly – that something very special, very interesting and very noteworthy was occurring in the field at this time. A small revolution in an area of applied art and design that was arguably the most stimulating cultural event happening in any comparable field at the time. As the author states: "At the creative end of the spectrum, jewellery has rarely been so strong."(33) The full page, two colour spread of illustrations of a variety of work including New Jewellers like Caroline Broadhead, David Watkins, and Ros Perry together with a two page black and white photo gallery complete with a useful legend at the bottom to identify makers and works is sufficient to prove how significant an impact this New Jewellery was asserting. The only pity is that the text that runs from page 44 to page 45 does not connect and some missing text evidently escaped the notice of the editor and proof-reader.
 
IMAGE 40 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00869 IMAGE 40 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 41 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00870 IMAGE 41 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 42 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00871 IMAGE 42 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 43 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00872 IMAGE 43 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 44 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00873 IMAGE 44 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 45 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00874 IMAGE 45 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 46 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00875 IMAGE 46 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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IMAGE 47 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement TNJ00876 IMAGE 47 : The artist-run jewellery galleries movement

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These images record one of the most important aspects of the New Jewellery movement, namely the rise of jewellery-specific galleries to promote, circulate, introduce and proselytise about this work. The context of the work was deeply understood and re-presented by these galleries due largely to the fact that almost all of them were established by New Jewellers themselves. One of the keys to the movement and mediation of this work was the frequent interchanges and exchanges of not only the work shown in exhibitions, but the lectures and social movement between the artists. It was a fascinating time for debate, exchange and, just as importantly, intellectual and social cavorting. Almost all of the British New Jewellers were at one time or another presented at these galleries.

These images are included to pay homage to those passionate and tireless efforts made by the various proprietors in circulating this work and producing its documents. The first of three images are of Galerie Ra in Amsterdam and shows its owner, and important New Jeweller himself Paul Derrez, standing in front of the site of the original Galerie Ra (bottom right window) established in 1976. The next two show the present location of this supremely important international venue at Vijzelstraat 80.
 
Among the key modern jewellery galleries Paul Derrez’s Galerie Ra is still one of the most important influences on jewelry in Holland and Britain. Galerie Ra’s work has prompted strong interest among connoisseurs elsewhere in Europe and in the United States.(34)
 
Other important sites at the time for the dissemination of New Jewellery – which were galleries as opposed to shops – were Galerie Cada in Munich (pictured) which had mutated from Schaufenster Nr.34 (Shopwindow No. 34) and was run by Annette Rossle and Gabi Dzuiba (the gallery is no longer active); Spektrum Galerie, also in Munich, established by Marianne Schlwinski and Jurgen Eickoff in 1981 (still very active); Ventil Gelerie (pictured here) run by students of the Munich Akademie (no longer active); V und V Galerie in Vienna (pictured here) established by Verena Formanek and Veronika Schwartzinger; Galerie Marzee in Holland established in 1978 in Nymegen (not pictured but still active) and Aspects in London (pictured here with its owner, Sharon Plant) which aspired to be a sort of Galerie Ra in London but with the addition of promoting advanced work in other craft practices as well (no longer active). As may be readily discerned, the longevity of contemporary jewellery galleries was not promising.
 
IMAGE 48 : Pierre Degen Exhibition announcement Galerie Ra Amsterdam 25 April – 27 May 1981 TNJ00877 IMAGE 48 : Pierre Degen Exhibition announcement Galerie Ra Amsterdam 25 April – 27 May 1981

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IMAGE 49 : Pierre Degen Exhibition announcement Galerie Ra Amsterdam 25 April – 27 May 1981 TNJ00878 IMAGE 49 : Pierre Degen Exhibition announcement Galerie Ra Amsterdam 25 April – 27 May 1981

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Here is an example of experimental and speculative jewellery from an informed and questioning practitioner: Pierre Degen. Degen, who was a Swiss-trained goldsmith had come to London and taken a job as a technician at the Central School of Art (he went on to become a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex in the jewellery department where he remains today). This important exhibition illustrates the very close ties that existed between the Dutch jewellery community and the British at a time when Electrum gallery in London was increasingly seen as a venue unsuitable – and unsympathetic – to this type of new and experimental work, British jewellers started looking to Holland (and Germany) for suitable and supportive galleries to exhibit, promote and contextualise their work. Degen was hitting his stride in this period as a searching, inquisitive jeweller -‘body worker’ might be a more accurate description – one who was using the clothed body not as a hanging space for small-scale artworks or miniature sculpture (as had been the tendency in jewellery previously) but using the whole body as a site for constructions, transport and object carrying. His challenge lay in issues of scale, material, context as well as re-addressing such earlier artistic concerns as assemblage, found objects, body decoration (marking), adhocism, and chance.
 
IMAGE 50: Caroline Broadhead catalogue cover (open showing front and back) Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol November 1981 TNJ00879 IMAGE 50: Caroline Broadhead catalogue cover (open showing front and back) Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol November 1981

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From at least 1975 when Sarah Osborn put together an exhibition of limited production Dutch jewellery called Multiples there, the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol had been an unusual and untypical gallery space for the exhibiting and promotion of contemporary jewellery. But during the years under her guidance (and later Helen Craven’s) a formidable series of advanced jewellery work was shown. This catalogue is of an exhibition of Caroline Broadhead’s, whose work at this time was inspired by having taken up embroidery in Kenya. Using the practice of wooden hoops for tensioning the material, she used laminated wood and the industrial nylon monofilament which she colour-dyed and utilised in this body of work. Work which was of a playful and colourful yet rigorous and controlled nature fashioned into bracelets, necklaces and brooches. These became canonical works in the repertoire of one of the five major presences in British New Jewellery : Caroline Broadhead, Pierre Degen, Susanna Heron, Julia Manheim, and David Watkins.
 
IMAGE 51 : Susanna Heron  Exhibition poster  Galerie Ra Amsterdam
8 May – 9 June 1982
TNJ00880 IMAGE 51 : Susanna Heron Exhibition poster Galerie Ra Amsterdam
8 May – 9 June 1982

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This poster is a classic representation of this new genre of body object: the New Jewellery. Pictured here is an announcement for a Susanna Heron exhibition held in Amsterdam, with photographic representations by David Ward. Ward was married to Heron at the time and as such was close to the New Jewellery movement and became its primary photographer and latterly its visual documentist. The use of the artist herself as model presented the suggestion that, ‘Yes, I wear these pieces too’, along with its other message , ‘This work is not for professional models in gorgeous outfits to be wearing…this stuff is for you and I, for the street’. Black was usually the clothing colour of choice to show this work against (contrast, neutrality, cool) alongside the wearing of ‘normal’ ‘everyday’ clothing. This strategy can be seen in many of the images of worn work at this time. Another common strategy was to photograph the object by itself - enlarged and centered in the frame with a scale and positioning making it difficult to ‘read’ simply as jewellery and suggesting ‘Is this a sculpture or maybe a 3D wall piece?’. Photographic representations were invariably front-on with no indication of rear fastening mechanisms which might complicate the purity of its implied ‘fine art’ aspirations. By this time (1982) works like this were being tagged as ‘wearables’ not jewellery(35). These objects often served an ancillary role - they could be hung on a wall (again a signifier of ‘fine art’) when not in use on the body. In fact, some were more successful as ‘hang –ups’ (and I do use the word here in a sly metaphorical way) than as expressive jewellery.
 
IMAGE 53 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00882 IMAGE 53 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 54 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00883 IMAGE 54 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 55 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00884 IMAGE 55 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 56 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00885 IMAGE 56 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 57 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00886 IMAGE 57 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 58 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00887 IMAGE 58 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 59 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00888 IMAGE 59 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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IMAGE 60 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London TNJ00889 IMAGE 60 : Pierre Degen – New Work Exhibition announcement; advertisement in Crafts September/October 1982; 2 images from the catalogue cover – front and rear (opened up) and installation view. Crafts Council Gallery 22 Sept. – 7 Nov. 1982 London

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To have been in London between mid-1982 and early 1983 was to have been at the epicentre of the British New Jewellery scene during its high water. Alongside this Pierre Degen exhibition, organised by Ralph Turner, the international Jewellery Redefined exhibition was taking place at the British Crafts Centre (later to be Contemporary Applied Arts) in Earlham Street; The Colouring, Bronzing, and Patination of Metals at the Crafts Council with Degen; Wendy Ramshaw was having an exhibition at the V&A Museum (see IMAGE 52); Gerd Rothman (Germany), Bernard Schobinger (Switzerland) and Group Nou (Spain) all had shows at Electrum. The spotlight was on jewellery in all of its contemporary manifestations. This is the moment when the anti-New Jewellery and pro-New Jewellery forces focused their feelings and ‘had it out’ – as we shall see.

With New Work Pierre Degen had put together a provocative exhibition of brilliant work which, by virtue of his having been known as a jewellery maker, was considered a jewellery exhibition. Everything could after all, be ‘worn’ or at least attached to a body. And it did focus concern upon issues of the body and the delimiting of received notions of ‘jewellery’. Consisting of witty, provocative and fun assemblages of sticks, ladders, ready-mades, over-size balloons for ‘wearing’, and pieces like "Large Silk Propeller", "Tourniquet", "Coffee Bag and Stick", "Personal Environments" and "Large Loop" he investigated in one sustained effort the pressing question being asked at the time by advanced jewellery thinkers, namely: what are the conditions (minimal or maximal) for an object type known as a piece of jewellery? And with these whimsical, focused objects displaying all the sensitivities to material, construction and detailing that only the skilled hands of a goldsmith could have produced, he interrogated and contextualised that very question – in part by addressing certain positions posited by the likes of Duchamp and the Surrealists in earlier decades. With this exhibition Degen made the best and most provocative one-man show about the limits and possibilities of New Jewellery.

The catalogue itself had all the hallmarks of a British New Jewellery ‘presentation’: Crafts Council sponsorship (endorsement and support from the Head of Exhibitions, Ralph Turner); a well-produced catalogue with contextual essays (in this case several: Ralph Turner, Rory Spence, Christopher Reid, Paul Derrez, Danielle Keunen, Bernard Francois and Paul Filmer); superb ‘photographables’ by David Ward; a catalogue cover of ‘objects’ not immediately discernible as either ‘jewellery’ or ‘craft’; a ‘signed’ catalogue edition; a national touring schedule; and guaranteed coverage in the in-house organ, Crafts magazine(36). And get covered it did! These 17 exhibits – in tandem with the other two exhibitions mentioned and discussed next - created the greatest discussions amongst the jewellery community that had hitherto been heard. Images 58 and 59 show catalogue photos of two of the works and Image 60 shows the actual installation at the Crafts Council.

As if this were not enough, in the sister exhibition space at the Crafts Council Gallery, Michael Rowe and Richard Hughes were showing work celebrating the launch of their technical opus, ‘The Colouring, Bronzing and Patination of Metals’ which was to have its own very significant international impact on the metal fraternity – and upon less scrupulous antique dealers. This hugely important double-headed exhibition was quite a coup for Exhibitions Head, Ralph Turner.
 
IMAGE 61 : Jewellery Redefined Call For Entry Poster (front) TNJ00890 IMAGE 61 : Jewellery Redefined Call For Entry Poster (front)

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IMAGE 62 : Jewellery Redefined Call For Entry Poster (back) TNJ00891 IMAGE 62 : Jewellery Redefined Call For Entry Poster (back)

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IMAGE 63 : Exhibition announcement card TNJ00892 IMAGE 63 : Exhibition announcement card

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IMAGE 64 : Object from the catalogue TNJ00893 IMAGE 64 : Object from the catalogue

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IMAGE 65 : Object from the catalogue TNJ00894 IMAGE 65 : Object from the catalogue

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IMAGE 66 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine  September/October Issue  No. 58    1982  pp.42-46 TNJ00895 IMAGE 66 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine September/October Issue No. 58 1982 pp.42-46

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IMAGE 67 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine  September/October Issue  No. 58    1982  pp.42-46 TNJ00896 IMAGE 67 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine September/October Issue No. 58 1982 pp.42-46

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IMAGE 68 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine  September/October Issue  No. 58    1982  pp.42-46 TNJ00897 IMAGE 68 : ‘Jewellery Redefined’ article from Crafts magazine September/October Issue No. 58 1982 pp.42-46

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While the Degen exhibition, New Work single-handedly mapped out many of the concerns and debates being addressed by British and European practitioners of New Jewellery, there was, at the same moment, a major international juried exhibition taking place at the British Crafts Centre in Covent Garden called Jewellery Redefined, and a short 5 months later the even more notorious The Jewellery Project opened at the Crafts Council Gallery – hot on the heels of the Pierre Degen, New Work exhibition. But Jewellery Redefined, as can be seen by the call for entries, was a shot heard ‘round the world. Ralph Turner was at his Svengaliesque height of New Jewellery influence at this time.

The convergence of these three exhibitions had an immense impact on thinking jewellers everywhere in the western world (though repercussions were also felt further afield, for example, in Japan. And it was the substantial circulation - not of the actual works themselves, but of their representation in catalogues and photographic images - that effected such international attention and conceptual authority. But the huge reaction to New Jewellery was decidedly mixed – in varying proportions it was revered, enjoyed, supported, understood and seen as a source of great inspiration, if not objects to copy, and on the other hand the reaction was dismissive, hysterical, angry, appalled, disgusted and loathsome. Writing in Crafts, Peter Fuller said:
 
I never thought I would live to see the day when it became necessary to say diamonds are a better friend to a girl – or boy come to that – than used cinema tickets…the British Crafts Centre mounted an exhibition billed as the first (one can only hope it is the last) "International Exhibition of Multi-Media Non-Precious Jewellery"…Give me imitation pearls any day! Why is the Crafts Council giving gallery space to such sterile pretension?…I hope we shall never see the like of ‘Jewellery Redefined’ …again.(37)
 
As we shall see, this one exhibition (together with The Jewelery Project) was a bridge too far for many in the jewellery community. Indeed, these shows had quite a divisive effect, which was no bad thing with regard to breathing new life into any relatively inert practice. Their reception will be looked at later in this piece. It also proved that there were scores of art college jewellery students who had been just waiting for such inspiration and signals of a new direction in which to position and formulate their work.
 
IMAGE  69 : Schmuck ’82 : tendenzen?  Catalogue cover 3 July-29 August  1982 TNJ00898 IMAGE 69 : Schmuck ’82 : tendenzen? Catalogue cover 3 July-29 August 1982

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This is an image of the cover of the catalogue ‘Schmuck ’82: tendenzen?’ (schmuck meaning jewellery) which serves to illustrate a point made earlier about the intensity of response within the jewellery community to developments in the New Jewellery arena. The Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim – the only museum dedicated solely to jewellery in the world – had hosted exhibitions entitled Schmuck since 1967, with the appendage ‘tendenzen’ (tendencies). Dr. Fritz Falk the museum director and curator had always been seen as a ‘friend’ of the most contemporary work, and was supportive of the charting of tendencies in new work; yet this New Jewellery work was breaking all the barriers: materials, form, purpose, condition, presentation, wearability, economics, and concept basis. I have it on anecdotal authority that the unusual addition of a question mark after the word ‘tendenzen’ which can be seen on the catalogue cover was some sort of ironic acknowledgement of just how quickly things were progressing – if that was the word - and how difficult it was becoming to chart new jewellery directions or state with any certainty just what current tendencies were any longer. At any event, this turned out to be the final ‘tendenzen’ in the series.
 
IMAGE 70 : The Jewellery Project  catalogue cover 20 Apr-26 June 1983 British Crafts Centre TNJ00899 IMAGE 70 : The Jewellery Project catalogue cover 20 Apr-26 June 1983 British Crafts Centre

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IMAGE 71 : The Jewellery Project exhibition review by Peter Fuller  Crafts No.63 July/August 1983 TNJ00900 IMAGE 71 : The Jewellery Project exhibition review by Peter Fuller Crafts No.63 July/August 1983

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IMAGE 72 : The Jewellery Project  exhibition review by Peter Fuller  Crafts No.63 July/August 1983 TNJ00901 IMAGE 72 : The Jewellery Project exhibition review by Peter Fuller Crafts No.63 July/August 1983

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IMAGE 73 : Letters’ pages from Crafts No.64  September/October 1983  pp.8 –9 TNJ00902 IMAGE 73 : Letters’ pages from Crafts No.64 September/October 1983 pp.8 –9

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IMAGE 74 : Letters’ pages from Crafts No.64  September/October 1983   pp.8 –9 TNJ00903 IMAGE 74 : Letters’ pages from Crafts No.64 September/October 1983 pp.8 –9

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In the preface to the catalogue of this exhibition, the ubiquitous Ralph Turner writes:
 
This is a particularly timely exhibition that captures the spirit of an important aspect of European jewellery, for it comes at a turning point in the careers of many of its chief exponents. When Malcolm, Sue and Abigale Knapp asked Susanna Heron and David Ward to build a collection of innovative jewellery no one could have predicted what form that collection would take. During the three years that it has taken to build the collection, there have been many changes in the artists’ work. ‘The Jewellery Project’ demonstrates the Knapps’ generosity and trust and the commitment that they made towards these two English artists.(38)
 
And there you have it: well-to-do New York applied arts collectors (the Knapps) do what no British collector would have done – put their hands into their pockets and make a financial and aesthetic commitment to the New Jewellers of Europe, allowing the knowledgeable Susanna Heron and David Ward to assemble a carte-blanche collection. The collection to be shown in London at a Crafts Council venue – in this case the British Crafts Centre - before being whisked away lock, stock and barrel to New York where it presumably lounges today in the Knapp’s apartment. Additionally, Heron provided an interesting contextual underpinning in the catalogue essay, ‘Work in the Collection: a broader context and related activities’ in which she observes:
 
Most of the objects in the Collection are conspicuous precisely because their formal, technical, material and even functional aspects do not derive primarily from other or earlier jewellery…There are also signs of an effort to resolve an uncomfortable and ambiguous relationship with contemporary fashion. These are among the influences active now, during a period of economic, political and social crisis. All these factors are combining after some fifteen years of exploratory and experimental jewellery which has created a surprisingly healthy climate for making new work.(39)
 
The exhibition review by Peter Fuller – here reproduced in full – and some of the responses to his review and debates around the exhibition, I leave the reader to judge. But it is evident that this exhibition, alongside Jewellery Redefined and New Work from Pierre Degen, form a triumvirate of seminal exhibitions which established a New Jewellery idiom and from which contemporary jewellery could never look back.
 
IMAGE 75 : Wire Wear catalogue cover of work of Julia Manheim  Sunderland Arts Centre 1983 Photos : Colin Cuthbert  Article by Dormer in Crafts No. 62 TNJ00904 IMAGE 75 : Wire Wear catalogue cover of work of Julia Manheim Sunderland Arts Centre 1983 Photos : Colin Cuthbert Article by Dormer in Crafts No. 62

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IMAGE 76 : Wire Wear catalogue cover of work of Julia Manheim  Sunderland Arts Centre 1983 Photos : Colin Cuthbert  Article by Dormer in Crafts No. 62 TNJ00905 IMAGE 76 : Wire Wear catalogue cover of work of Julia Manheim Sunderland Arts Centre 1983 Photos : Colin Cuthbert Article by Dormer in Crafts No. 62

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This work by Julia Manheim was the result of a two year residency in Newcastle, and was ready to be exhibited in London in May 1983 where it ran until 12 June 1983. It was to be followed by the already discussed The Jewellery Project (IMAGES 70 –74). In summing up this work, Peter Dormer notes:
 
Manheim’s work is ornament, decoration for the body. Hers is not a polemical art but a decorative one, well-made and pleasurable to look at. Moreover…most of her work is wearable – it does its job properly (we are back to good craftsmanship). The materials are such that they can be shaped to fit the contours of the body and light enough so that in angular pieces the wearer is not made uncomfortable by them. These things matter in turning good ideas into an applied art.(40)
 
Some implied criticism of the more radical New Jewellery work of the time which as a champion of it, Dormer, was very well acquainted?
 
IMAGE 77 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue  New York  1983 TNJ00906 IMAGE 77 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue New York 1983

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IMAGE 78 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue  New York  1983 TNJ00907 IMAGE 78 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue New York 1983

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IMAGE 79 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue  New York  1983 TNJ00908 IMAGE 79 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue New York 1983

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IMAGE 80 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue  New York  1983 TNJ00909 IMAGE 80 : New Departures in British Jewellery catalogue cover and images from the catalogue New York 1983

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There was a great deal of international interest in the British New Jewellery by 1983 and this is an example of another important jeweller, Eric Spiller, getting in on the curatorial action. This body of work was heading to New York for the ‘Britain Salutes New York’ festival. In general, Spiller’s choice of artists reflect the current Crafts Council favourites of the time (and rightly so). As he writes in the forward,
 
My intention in collecting work for this exhibition was to create a precise, uncluttered picture of the kaleidoscope of contemporary jewellery in Britain…The process of selection was difficult to conduct without constant reference to contemporary jewellery in Europe as a whole and Holland in particular, with whom the ‘established’ group have interacted during the past decade, developing concepts and confidence.
 
That latter comment is certainly endorsed by this author, who has also to lament the fact that this account is restricted to British work with scant reference to the European context that informed so much of what resulted. The images presented here show work from Caroline Broadhead, David Watkins, and Pierre Degen who along with Eric Spiller, Julia Manheim, Susanna Heron, Barbara Alcock, Gillian Simon and Rowena Park presented this work at Convergence Gallery in New York. A review of the exhibition written by the American Rose Slivka, Editor-in-Chief of Craft International can be found in Crafts No. 64.
 
IMAGE 81 :  Three images from the ‘Jewellery in Transition’ exhibition  Prime Gallery  Toronto : Canada  1983 TNJ00910 IMAGE 81 : Three images from the ‘Jewellery in Transition’ exhibition Prime Gallery Toronto : Canada 1983

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IMAGE 82 :  Three images from the ‘Jewellery in Transition’ exhibition  Prime Gallery  Toronto : Canada  1983 TNJ00911 IMAGE 82 : Three images from the ‘Jewellery in Transition’ exhibition Prime Gallery Toronto : Canada 1983

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IMAGE 83 :  Three images from the Jewellery in Transition  exhibition  Prime Gallery  Toronto : Canada  1983 TNJ00912 IMAGE 83 : Three images from the Jewellery in Transition exhibition Prime Gallery Toronto : Canada 1983

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Evidence, if evidence were needed, of the international responses to the New Jewellery currents emanating outwards from Britain and of course by extension and association, Holland and Germany. As Ralph Turner writes in his important survey, The New Jewellery: trends and traditions :
 
It is clear that the axis of this account…is European-American…This state of affairs will not last for very much longer. Developments are taking place elsewhere. In Canada in 1983, for example, Prime Canadian Crafts Gallery (run by Suzann Greenaway) organised a radical exhibition called, ‘Jewellery in Transition’ which was inspired by a London forerunner – Jewellery Redefined. Jewellers [and artists in other media] from all over Canada submitted work to this exhibition and Kai Chan , James Evans(41) and Richard Karpyshin, especially were noted for their exciting alternatives to traditional jewellery(42).
 
Ralph Turner had been invited to Canada as the keynote speaker at the 1984 Good as Gold conference held in Toronto which resulted in his making useful professional connections with the jewellery community there, as well as researching work for inclusion in his and Peter Dormer’s book The New Jewellery : trends and traditions. In that book, Dormer writes about the unusual degree of success which the artist, David Didur, achieved by introducing overt political commentary into his work. The piece is illustrated here.(43)
 
IMAGE 84 :  Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’  Sydney :  Power House Museum  1984 TNJ00913 IMAGE 84 : Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’ Sydney : Power House Museum 1984

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IMAGE 85 :  Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’  Sydney :  Power House Museum  1984 TNJ00914 IMAGE 85 : Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’ Sydney : Power House Museum 1984

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IMAGE 86 :  Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’  Sydney :  Power House Museum  1984 TNJ00915 IMAGE 86 : Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’ Sydney : Power House Museum 1984

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IMAGE 87 :  Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’  Sydney :  Power House Museum  1984 TNJ00916 IMAGE 87 : Catalogue cover of ‘Cross Currents : Jewellery From Australia , Britain Germany , Holland’ Sydney : Power House Museum 1984

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Another palpable example of the long tentacles of the New Jewellery movement stretching across the world and influencing a generation of artist-jewellers. Like Canadian jewellery, Australian work was little known in the UK or Europe previous to this time. Feelings of enfranchisement were a result of travelling exhibitions of this new European work. Although, as noted previously, the initial excitement about this work had been provided primarily by the interesting catalogues and documentational material which had been produced – and circulated – widely. And there were of course, the ubiquitous slide-lectures (and slide proliferation) enabled with funds from the Crafts Council and British Council of cultural tours by British New Jewellers serving as visiting artists to universities and art colleges in several countries - which also provided welcoming pulpits for spreading that particular gospel.

The first image shown here is rather a curiousity as it shows a jewellery piece from Angus Suttie, who was much better known as a ceramist, and the other two images show clearly the performance orientated directions that Susanna Heron’s work was taking at this time.
 
IMAGE 88 : Exhibition announcement from Aspects in-house magazine for the exhibition Aspects of Art Brighton Polytechnic Art Gallery 29 November – 19 December 1984. Julia Manheim. Exhibition at Brighton Polytechnic. Cathy Harris. TNJ00917 IMAGE 88 : Exhibition announcement from Aspects in-house magazine for the exhibition Aspects of Art Brighton Polytechnic Art Gallery 29 November – 19 December 1984. Julia Manheim. Exhibition at Brighton Polytechnic. Cathy Harris.

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IMAGE 89 : Exhibition announcement from Aspects in-house magazine for the exhibition Aspects of Art Brighton Polytechnic Art Gallery 29 November – 19 December 1984. Julia Manheim. Exhibition at Brighton Polytechnic. Cathy Harris. TNJ00918 IMAGE 89 : Exhibition announcement from Aspects in-house magazine for the exhibition Aspects of Art Brighton Polytechnic Art Gallery 29 November – 19 December 1984. Julia Manheim. Exhibition at Brighton Polytechnic. Cathy Harris.

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Sharon Plant’s London gallery, Aspects, has been briefly mentioned earlier in this account. Her attempts to take her stable of artists on tour and in selling venues is illustrated here. The work of Cathy Harris was included in this Brighton exhibition. Cathy is sadly deceased now but it would be remiss not to show an image of her wonderful work – in this case a finger ring on a stand – and pay homage to the substantial part that she played in the New Jewellery movement.
 
IMAGE 90 : Promotion page from Aspects in-house magazine  July/August/September issue  1984 TNJ00919 IMAGE 90 : Promotion page from Aspects in-house magazine July/August/September issue 1984

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A timely reminder that in spite of relatively generous public funding of the exhibitions, catalogues, and travels of the British New Jewellers, studios and lifestyles had to be maintained. Objects had to be sold – and in affordable multiples – in order to continue to work and develop. This image illustrates the point in the case of one of the five key artists of New Jewellery, Julia Manheim. It serves to show that it wasn’t all a bed of one-off roses!
 
IMAGE  91 : Poster exhibition announcement (front and rear view) of Twentieth Century Jewelry Electrum Gallery  London
29 October – 16 November 1985
TNJ00920 IMAGE 91 : Poster exhibition announcement (front and rear view) of Twentieth Century Jewelry Electrum Gallery London
29 October – 16 November 1985

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IMAGE  92 : Poster exhibition announcement (front and rear view) of Twentieth Century Jewelry Electrum Gallery  London
29 October – 16 November 1985
TNJ00921 IMAGE 92 : Poster exhibition announcement (front and rear view) of Twentieth Century Jewelry Electrum Gallery London
29 October – 16 November 1985

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If you have kept up with this account so far – preferably in chronological order – you will have discerned that many people and events are interconnected in this account. There is a definite New Jewellery family tree to be drawn. Ralph Turner and Barbara Cartlidge were co-founders of Electrum Gallery (1971) but they parted ways in 1974. Turner to eventually become Head of Exhibitions at the Crafts Council and Cartlidge to continue to run Electrum. They were both articulate and opinionated advocates of contemporary jewellery, but very different in their enthusiasms. This can best be observed by comparing their two accounts of the work, which were coincidentally published in the same year – 1985. Both are required reading and are listed in the bibliography.

This exhibition was held at Electrum to launch the book of the same name and to exhibit work of as many of the artists covered in it as possible. It was a bit of an antidote, if not an alternative account, of the state of jewellery in Britain and in the international orbit at the time. Both the book and the exhibition were mammoth tasks – and great successes. A careful look at the list of artists exhibiting will tell a story about the importance of Electrum as a gallery venue for contemporary jewellery and about the number of the New Jewellers who had at one time or another been represented by Barbara Cartlidge. Her strongly held views about the ‘dead-end’ pathways being trodden by many of the New Jewellery artists – and especially their legacy – can be read about in more detail in the article, ‘Silver and Electrum’.(44)
 
IMAGE  93 :  Pierre Degen Sketchbook catalogue cover illustration 1986 TNJ00922 IMAGE 93 : Pierre Degen Sketchbook catalogue cover illustration 1986

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In 1986 Pierre Degen won the Dutch, Francoise van den Bosch Foundation prize for his achievements in jewellery. This catalogue which beautifully reproduced colour and black and white pages from his own sketchbooks was a delightful document of one aspect of the artist’s oeuvre as well as being one of the few visual testaments ever made showing the connection between jewellery and drawing. The German master gold and silversmith, Hermann Junger also comes to mind as another fine example of an artist who overtly connects the two.
 
IMAGE 94 : Cover of the catalogue New Traditions : the Evolution of Jewellery 1966 –1985 TNJ00924 IMAGE 94 : Cover of the catalogue New Traditions : the Evolution of Jewellery 1966 –1985

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There seems to have been something in the air at this time. A sense of having to take stock perhaps, or document a jewellery movement at its apex. But this catalogue of an exhibition curated by one of New Jewellery’s supreme innovators, Caroline Broadhead, and with an overview of its history written by her, was presented by the Crafts Council in 1985. It is an interesting and fairly inclusive presentation, with a strange sense of impending closure, or slowed momentum. Was change coming? Was this an early indication of the end of an era? In the catalogue she writes:
 
The last twenty years have nearly exhausted this exciting and important phase of questioning the fundamental nature of jewellery. As this phase draws to an end, there are already new directions emerging. This creative activity has both arisen from, and brought strikingly into focus, the tension between function and non-function, inheritance and invention, conservatism and innovation – polarities which are inherent in all art.(45)
 
Broadhead was soon to abandon jewellery as her vehicle of expression in favour of textiles and clothing, and as we shall see, the other main architects of British New Jewellery were also to find greener creative pastures.
 
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