The Dream is the Room

The opportunity to see two concurrent exhibitions of Wendy Ramshaw’s work in one city is not to be missed. Though often called a jeweller, Ramshaw cannot be categorised. She is a maker, dreamer, storyteller, architect, collaborator and draughtsman.

Rings, Wendy Ramshaw Photo William Van Esland
Rings by Wendy Ramshaw Photo: William Van Esland

Rooms of Dreams at the Dovecot is a comprehensive overview of Ramshaw’s career, from her early paper jewellery collaborations with husband David Watkins to the New Edinburgh Gate, installed at Hyde Park, London in 2011. Ramshaw’s practice embraces the extremes of scale. The exhibition includes photographs and maquettes of her architectural projects. We are able to compare the small and perfectly formed maquette for the New Edinburgh Gate with the industrial processes required to make it, illustrated by a series of photographs. This monumentality is also found in Ramshaw’s jewellery. The Catherine Wheel Earrings (1993), made from oxidized silver, 18ct gold and moonstone are almost the size of two Olympic medals but one ever doubts that Ramshaw creates every item with the intention that it can be worn.

Ramshaw’s objects wear their construction with pride, their inner workings exposed. This interest in the minutiae of objects begins its inception in her drawings, some of which are on display. The motif of the key recurs time and time again. It is at its most prevalent in Room of Dreams. First exhibited at The Scottish Gallery in 2002, Room of Dreams is a ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, a total work of art that brings together jewellery, furniture and imagery to create a whole environment. Ramshaw says of the installation:

The dream is the room and every one of its individual contents is in some sense part of the dream. A white wall is covered with frames, each of which contains a piece of jewellery, each inspired by a dream or dream-like situation… a series of stories and images waiting to be considered and discovered.

The installation has been reconfigured to fit the space at Dovecot. Also on display is the scale model of its original conception allowing viewers to consider the differences of the two layouts.

Rings by Wendy Ramshaw Photo William Van Esland
Rings by Wendy Ramshaw Photo: William Van Esland

The Inventor at The Scottish Gallery is a tribute to the long-standing relationship between Ramshaw and the gallery. As well as celebrating the return of Room of Dreams to Edinburgh, it celebrates Ramshaw’s ongoing creative journey. Ramshaw is perhaps most famous for her signature Ringsets and The Inventor includes a wide selection grouped thematically. These include the silver Geometric Ringsets who smooth forms invite the viewer to touch and a set of pure gold ringsets with sparkling diamonds. If any further persuasion to visit were needed, this is the only exhibition of the two to feature a six piece glass sculpture from Ramshaw’s 2007 installation A Journey Through Glass.

Rooms of Dreams is a Harley Gallery touring exhibition in partnership with the Ruthin Craft Centre. A beautiful colour-illustrated hardback publication has been released to accompany the exhibition.

Review by Francesca Baseby

See: Wendy Ramshaw: Rooms of Dreams
Until 30 March 2013
Dovecot, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT
Open Monday to Saturday 10.30am – 5.30pm
Free
See: Wendy Ramshaw: The Inventor
Until 2 March 2013
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Open Monday to Friday 10am – 6pm. Saturday 10am – 4pm
Free

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