Local jewellery artist Maria Whetman, whose work explores materials and processes that reflect the mining district of the West Devon and Tamar Valley region, is among 29 members from the Association for Contemporary Jewellery whose pieces are on exhibition in Sleight of Hand, the new free show in The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art.
Running until Saturday 12 December and open to members of the public, the themes for Sleight of Hand are magic and illusions, both of which are reflected in the range of 54 pieces of jewellery that will be on show, created by makers from every corner of the UK and as far away as Vienna and Australia.
Maria Whetman, who lives in the Bere Peninsula, also teaches BA (Hons) Jewellery at Plymouth College of Art, said: “A lot of my work is influenced by the natural landscape between the River Tamar and the River Tavy.
“The Tamar Valley has an incredible history, there was so much change there during the industrial revolution. Arsenic, copper, lead and tin were all mined there. The site was so well known that the Romans visited the Bere Peninsula on the Tamar just to mine our silver!
“I feel passionately that people in the local area, not just in Plymouth, but across Devon and Cornwall, should know about the heritage of this amazing landscape.
“My work in the Sleight of Hand exhibition is taken from a bigger project that really explored our local heritage. Both pieces of jewellery were created using materials such as tin, copper, iron and mica, all of which could be found locally. I hope that when people visit the exhibition they’ll be inspired to look around them and appreciate the beauty that’s on our doorstep.”
Leah Harris, exhibitions coordinator at The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, said: “We’re lucky to have a touring show of such national significance as Sleight of Hand come to Plymouth.
“Events like this are excellent for broadening the horizons of our students and other young people in the city who are thinking of embarking on a career in the creative industries, especially those with an interest in jewellery.
“The makers in Sleight of Hand present a wide range of techniques, from traditional to contemporary, whilst utilising unusual materials, including plastics, paper, resin, glass, found objects and various metals, and demonstrating a vibrant display of skill, wit and excellent design.”
Another contributing artist, Viktoria Münzker, will be visiting from her home in Austria to give a free talk about her work in the Studio Theatre at Plymouth College of Art on Wednesday 2 December from 5:30pm until 6:30pm.
Viktoria creates jewellery that she would prefer to be known as art objects, designed to be worn on the human body. Slightly odd or strange at first glance, the objects bring to life Münzkers’ imagination; playfully depicting what things might look like, or could be.
Speaking of her trip to Plymouth, Viktoria said: “It’s a pleasure for me to come to Plymouth for the first time to give a workshop and lecture. For those who want to study jewellery, I’d say please stay true to yourself. Never give up and always trust yourself. Face challenges. They push you on. Every new work is a challenge. Treat every piece individually.
“When I create, I feel that I am a part of a great complex of the universe, that never stands still – an ongoing process of evolution, that produces changes through visual art. I hope the visitors will feel something like this; the emotion of something that can be as small as a piece of jewellery, but leaves a memorable vibe behind.”
Contributing artist Dauvit Alexander (also known as “The Justified Sinner”) will also be talking about his practice and the ethos behind his work in the Studio Theatre in Plymouth College of Art on Wednesday 25 November, from 5.30pm until 6.30pm. As a jeweller he is largely self-taught, working with found metals, such as iron and steel, to create jewellery that crosses boundaries of style and technique.
The Association for Contemporary Jewellery was founded in 1997 to promote greater understanding of contemporary jewellery practice, to support jewellers’ creative and professional development and to develop audiences for this lively field of contemporary craft and design.
(from a press release)