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A spectrum of Jewels

Sunday, May 1, 2016
Ring by Ashraph. Photos: Marsha Pearce

The title Spectrum is an easy fit for an exhibition featuring a range of work by eight jewellery designers. Y Art Gallery’s latest show runs the gamut of responses to the show’s overarching concept—from the anticipated to the unforeseen.

Pieces by Barbara Jardine and Sarah-May Marshall reflect a response to the theme in terms of the band of colours seen when light passes through a prism. 

Marshall’s juicy ring collection is exactly that: luscious in its presentation of various hues. Her gemstones in yellow topaz, aquamarine, peridot and amethyst sit atop bands in silver and gold. 

Jardine continues her work with the sea urchin shell, a medium that has become an expected component of her repertoire, but this time she invites us to taste the rainbow with her earrings, pendants and rings that are reminiscent of the shape and vibrant pigments of the Skittles brand of fruit-flavoured candy.

Of course, a spectrum is not solely about colour. It also refers to a span or scale running between extreme ends. Janice Derrick’s simple forms explore the extremes of sharp points and soft curves while Rachel Ross offers a dramatic selection that demonstrates her sensitive play with light and dark. 

Ross’ pieces combine pearls, oxidised silver, black coral, black diamonds and hematite in a stirring, monochromatic display.

Jade Drakes shows deftness in her work with such materials as wood, bone, pen nibs and fur, on the one hand, and silver, gold, diamonds, rubies and emeralds on the other. Her brooches, in particular, quickly slide from the category of jewellery to that of sculpture. 

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan maintains her own captivating approach to jewellery-cum-three-dimensional-figures. She presents a fantastic world of hybrid forms including a piece that is seemingly part man, part ram goat and part dragonfly. In her constructed realm, precious metals and stones are melded with a backdrop of Cazabon’s art and the poetry of Martin Carter, among other creative sources. The result is a spectrum that runs from past to present, with a consideration of the future—a scope that culls from the written word, painted images, reality and imagination.

Ashraph, too, dances in that space between jewellery and statuette. His rings take their shapes and personalities from the parotia bird of New Guinea. Circles mimic fanned feathers and his incorporation of felt suggests soft plumes. His inspiration is unexpected and fresh.

It is however, the work of Sonya Sanchez-Arias that attends to the theme in a most striking manner. She exposes a spectrum of possibilities for plastic shopping bags, cups and straws, a crushed soda can and galvanised metal. These mundane materials are transformed into unpredictable pieces, shedding in many instances any indication of their former selves.

Overall, the various elements of Spectrum fulfil the show’s title but given last year’s theme of Light, the 2016 conceptual thread holding this exhibit together is not a huge leap. This display of jewellery is now an annual event with largely the same designers featured (this is Sanchez-Arias’ first presentation in this grouping). Therefore, it would be interesting to see what adventurous directions these designers might take with a more challenging topic.

Spectrum is Y Art Gallery’s fourth annual Jewelbox show, held at 26 Taylor Street, Woodbrook. It opened on April 24 and continues until May 7.

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