Sunday, 18 October 2009

A sting of Passion

I went to Manchester Gallery to see the Goya exhibition, but I came across 'A sting of passion' first and the gallery shut by the time i'd finished so I didn't end up looking at that. I really loved this exhibition though!

The exhibition is based around 12 of the galleries pre-Raphaelite paintings, all depicting strong and powerful women. 'There can be no doubt, these women are dangerous. They appear to have an hypnotic power of men which serves to highlight his vulnerability.'

In response to these paintings, 12 jewellery artists have created work which can only be described as on the 'fringe of jewellery', based on their experience and feelings about the paintings.

apologies for bad photos, no flash allowed.

Joli Couer - which means pretty heart, refers to both the girls beating heart and the necklace she is wearing. Marianne Schliwinski has tried to interpret the girls sexuality and seduction in to her jewellery.

Above is a painting which was based on the Bible story 'The foolish virgins'. The virgins are given oil lamps, but this girl wastes her oil and so cannot find her way to the party in the dark. When she finally arrives, she is locked out. The jewellery Sarah O'Hana has designed is a keyhole and prism, so the distressed girl can look into the party. Strange!Sappho was a greek poet who wrote about love, yearning and reflection. Painted here by Charles - August mengin, she is about to throw herself into the sea because of an unrequited love. The bracelet by Jivan Astfalk is in the form of a written line from one of Sappho's poems to Aphrodite.

Ophelia is a character from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Driven mad by Hamlet's murder of her father and rejection of her love, she is about to drown. The concrete necklace below is inspired by prison walls, the glass shards represent the violence and oppression she has suffered. Will she sink or swim?

Hylas and the Nymphs - Hylas is enticed into the pool by the water nymphs and is never seen by his friends again. George Manilla has created brooches made from fragile bone to represent the deathly allure of the nymphs, oval shaped refering to the intimate female form.

The first femme fatel, Eve, she is persuaded by the snake to take the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Arek Wolski has taken a light hearted approach and created an item of clothing that reads 'Lust forever'.
Vivian was an evil enchantress who entrapped the magician Merlin by misusing his spells. Bettina Speckner based her brooch on this poem:

The lady of the lake
Everything faces everything
The woods and the waters
Man and woman
Good and Evil
Faith and will
Everything is one.

I particularly enjoyed this exhibition. I like the concept of commissioning new artists to respond to original work. These paintings are so full of stories and symbolism, and I think this work refreshes their beauty and brings them into the 21st century. I like the way the paintings were displayed with the jewellery in front of them and the background to the stories, and the fact you could see the originals also in the gallery. I think this was quite a unique exhibition!

I love the idea that the original paintings were interpreted mostly from literature. Each artist read and connected with the stories in their own minds and then responded with their own interpretation. Its interesting that most of these paintings have shaped our visuals of these stories to this day - if we had to picture Eve, most of us would draw her naked with long red hair, because that is how art shows her. But these images began as unique visions in the mind of the artist based on words written down. This is really relevant for my silence project - it has helped me to start thinking about in some new ways.

Injustice - a visual poem about freedom and injustice based on talks with a historian about the slave trade. Each letter is individually designed to make a statement.

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