â€œArt is not only theÂ object, but where it is and what it’s doing”.
Jewellery, being pure luxury, has independently of fashion. It changes radically then freezes for years. Sometimes it seems remarkably constant. The necklaces and rings of the ancient Egyptians are the familiar shapes, only a little rougher than conventional jewellery today. William Morris introduced nature to art in the 1860s; Salvador Daliâ€™s watches and crying jewelled eyes became well known in the 1950s. Jewellery went one step further ten years ago with the experimental work of two Royal College of Art students, John Donald and Gerald Benney, and with Roy king and Andrew Grima. Shapes were asymmetric. Necklaces had the textures of driftwood, coral and treebark. Stones were sometimes uncut and unpolished. â€œExtraordinary as our work may have looked then,â€ says John Donald, â€œwe kept within the decorative, meticulous feminine tradition of English jewellery.â€ The last few decades have gradually dated the immense diamond on a gold band, the â€œskating rinkâ€ of Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd, whose major purpose was to display its price. Just as photography freed painting to experiment in the 1890, the equalising effects of the economy have set jewellery free to be judged by its looks again. To Stuart Devlin, the Australian goldsmith whose gold egg is photographed on the previous pages, its richness of appearance is its function.
To Jocelyn Burton, photographed above in the necklace that won her the 1967 de Beers award while she was still a student, â€œArt is not only the object, but where it is and what itâ€™s doing.â€ Designer of some of the most wearable jewellery being made, her work is both functional and decorative. â€œA lot of FabergÃ© is vulgar because itâ€™s so contrived. I like the simple things he did the green frog sitting on the cane umbrella handle, for instance. â€˜Only the superfluous is sordidâ€™; something I read once which has stuck in my mind as relevant to jewellery. It is still a conservative medium. Why stop at earrings when the whole of the face and head are there? Jewellers need to push their work to its logical conclusion.â€ Some of her mind-expanding jewellery will be sold at a new shop called Jean Renet Ltd, selling only precious metals, jewellery and tableware, opening in Bond Street next month. To Professor Janey Ironside the new jewellery makes sense at last.
If you love sumptuous silver (or platinum or gold for that matter) full of rich heraldic and historical associations, Jocelyn Burton is your woman. She doesnâ€™t, you understand, do Minimalism. She loves exploring the full decor-ative potential of materials. One of Britainâ€™s most distinguished metalworkers, she trained at the Sir John Cass College and won the De Beers International Award for diamond jewellery when she was just 21 and still a student.
By the time she was 24, she had set up her own studio in Londonâ€™s Red Lion Square (handy for Hatton Garden), and is still there. She is the only woman to have won the Prince Philip Medal, awarded for an exceptional contribution to engineering.
Look into her portfolio of work, much of it commissioned by the most discerning and well-funded patrons in the world, and what you find is a rich and varied exploration of natureâ€™s immense diversity, translated into the metals and precious stones she works with. Sheâ€™s made sterling-silver mustard pots-embellished with large Baroque pearls-for The Duke of Edinburgh and vast lamps-fashioned from bronze gilt and malachite-for a new palace in Qatar, as well as a malachite barometer and rose-quartz cabinet for the Sultan of Brunei.
Her work is sought after by our great cultural institutions-the V&A, St Paulâ€™s Cathedral and the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as 10, Downing Street, yet she doesnâ€™t only create for the grand.
There are wonderful rich and ornate goblets, some embellished with moonstones, others with gold decorative symbols-fish, shells or seahorses. Sheâ€™s made cutlery-such as an extraordinary set of flatware in lapis and gilt.
She loves working in detail, using finely chased figurative decoration and incorporating precious and semi-precious stones into goblets, bowls and candlesticks, as well as the jewel-lery for which she is increasingly sought after. Recently, Bentley & Skinner held an exhibition to celebrate four decades of Jocelynâ€™s work-a reminder of how varied her oeuvre has been and how rich her own particular vision. Her work is instantly recognisable, and she has, as all the best creative artists must do, carved out an aesthetic that is hers and hers alone.
The Sunny Art Centre invited Jocelyn to be part of the judging panel for the 2017 Sunny Art Award and of course she was delighted to accept. Jocelyn’s mastery in fine art will provide students with a fascinating insight into what it is like to be alongside one of the worldâ€™s leading precious metal artist.