Ten-sion is a group exhibition curated by the Creative Jewellery and Metal Design Division from the Visual Arts Department at Stellenbosch University. The jewellery, objects and sculptures on exhibit are works by seven postgraduate students and the three full-time lecturers of the Jewellery Division.
Through the works on display, the artists apply the mediums of contemporary / art jewellery and sculpture as critical art forms to comment on and/or challenge the world around them. The works explore a variety of tensions between socio-politically and culturally constructed identities, creative disciplines and practices, and contested spaces.
In her statement for the 2007 Then and Now exhibition she curated in London, the UK art jeweller and academic Caroline Broadhead writes: “Jewellery, more than most artefacts, raises issues of value. Value is measured by how an object fulfils a role and what it means to someone; one value often symbolises another sort of value. Rarity, exchange, sentimental or intrinsic value are all connected and overlap. Along with the high values placed on precious jewellery are parallel accounts of envy, theft and deception.”
Art jewellery questions and often subverts the values assigned to various traditional jewellery pieces, artefacts and “precious” materials from a contemporary perspective, illuminating the contradictions and complexities these creations embody. It navigates the tensions and blurs the lines between personal/cultural and private/public, and in this way broadens the parameters of the traditional gallery space, activating the body as a mobile display. Thus, art jewellery makes use of the cultural significance of jewellery to comment on social, environmental and political discourses in a nuanced and intimate way.
Ten-sion features works by the following art jewellers:
Cornelia Van Der Merwe