Writing about jewellery

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Martin Mull, and about a million others.

You’ve noticed that writing about jewellery is a big thing right at the minute? Yeah, I’ve been seeing it too. There’s the posts that are being cooperatively published by the AJF and Klimt02 websites on criticism (we’re up to post #4 by Garth Clark, which has links back to the other 3) and then there’s a few awards and competitions that are trying to get writers writing and submitting jewellery analysis and criticism. I’m going to mention them first because one is possibly self-serving and the other is really interesting.

The first on is the annual 2 Danks Street Award for Contemporary Art Criticism. Thanks to a heads up in the Studio 20/17 newsletter, I’m now aware that my collection of works currently on display in the gallery, One Design, is an eligible exhibition to write about for the award. So if you’re an aspiring critical writer in Sydney, you’ve got a couple of days to go see my show and write about it to submit it to the award by the 15th of October. And let me be plain, I’m happy to answer any questions, and approve use of/furnish you with images for you to use alongside your essay.

Secondly, Sienna Gallery have just announced that alongside their biannual emerging artist award (you get a show in the gallery – for goodness sakes apply, American residents!) they will also be sponsoring an emerging writer platform award. This is a chance for an emerging writer to write about the emerging artist show, and be published, with editorial help provided.

This is all good. And a little hopeful. Possibly towards being overly optimistic.

I want people to write about jewellery, and I want jewellery artists to write about jewellery. But I also want the writing to be good. And when people are not practiced at it, when they have not been trained as writers, or have even chosen a profession because they know that they will be able to avoid structuring sentences for perhaps even months at a time, then the ramp-up to reasonable communication, let alone useful criticism, is going to require the endurance of a Tour de France type of  ascent, rather than the gentle up and over of mounting a kerb (or curb) in an SUV. So while I’m all for the idea of getting more writers, I’m also a realist. One who recognises that the writing needs criticism, just as much as the work being written about.

(And before y’all come after me with your burning soldering picks – I know I’ve written some bland dross on here on occasion, but I set up this blog as a practice forum. One of the two main reasons I’m here is to try to get my writing in tune for the kind of scrutiny I should reasonably expect as a working artist. [The other being to share my experiences with my colleagues, so that we all might learn from what I do right and what I do wrong.])

I’m keen for a renaissance of critical writing for art jewellery, as much for the development of individual works of jewellery as the raised standard of critical thought it will encourage, and also for the improvements in writing that it will undoubtedly foster.


What I’m reading:

Deutsche Kunst – Catalogue on artist Moritz Götze (also works in large scale enamel)
Gender and Jewelry: A Feminist Analysis  – Rebecca Ross Russell
Mies – Detlef Mertins
On Jewellery: A Compendium of international contemporary art jewellery – Liesbeth den Besten (Yes, still – I’m just about done, but when you underline, write down and research something on just about every page, it’s slow going!)
Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World Mark Miodownik

On Order:

A History of Contemporary Jewellery in Australia & New Zealand – Damian Skinner and Kevin Murray


The AJF Blog and a feed of their Articles

Unmaking Things –

Unmaking Things is an online creative platform, edited and run by History of Design students at the Victoria and Albert Museum / Royal College of Art. It is a space in which questions can be raised, work can be published, and reflected on critically. Whilst the site is operated in connection with the MA course, we encourage connections between all those engaged in the field of design history, and so we welcome a diverse range of submissions – whether from students, practitioners, or professionals.

3 responses to “Writing about jewellery”