The Growing Jewellery Project began during the Honours year of my Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. The project looks for ways to improve people’s awareness of environmental and social problems through the medium of contmporary jewellery practice. I am trying to create jewellery which is designed, manufactured and delivered ethically using environmentally friendly bench techniques.
But it is not only how the pieces are made which is important, the relationship between the wearer and the jewellery is key to its success. The end-user must care for, grow and nurture the piece in order for it to survive, and in doing so, invests themselves into the work in a more meaningful way than simply owning or possessing it. A dialogue is created between artist and audience and from there between the wearer and the public. In this way, the message of sustainability and connectivity, conveyed by the works, passes beyond the gallery walls and is received by the broader community.
Further to this, the purpose of such an avant-garde/haute couture piece is to create conversation and discourse between the wearer and the public. The sign-value of the piece is integral to its purpose, it makes a visible statement and invites others to question its intentions. In a social and historical sense, jewellery has always had the function of asserting knowledge about the possessor visibly to the public, from rubies denoting royalty in ancient times to the current WWJD plastic bracelet trend of modern Christians. However, instead of asserting the owner’s wealth or religion this jewellery expresses the wearer’s political/environmental/social beliefs by using sign-value to signify their commitment to environmental awareness.