A Riot of Dazzling Jewellery

Layered neon neckpiece by Emma Calvert
Layered neon neckpiece by Emma Calvert
Red enamel necklace by Stacey Bentley
Necklace by Stacey Bentley
Brooch by Mariko Sumioka
Brooch by Mariko Sumioka
In the Tree by Becky Crow
In the Tree by Becky Crow

This year Dazzle @ Dovecot returns to the Ladies Baths, its original location when the exhibition first came to the venue. The room is a riot of colour and precious metals – Dazzle’s strength lies in its ability to showcase a wide variety and high volume of work without sacrificing quality.

Emma Calvert’s wearable structures testify to her training in woven textiles. Constructed from brightly coloured ribbons, the items on display range from heavy neckpieces to delicate earrings. They encourage an intense scrutiny as the viewer tries to unravel the weaving and understand their construction. Though contemporary in colour and design, the larger necklaces bring to mind historic ruffs, evoking the tradition of textile structures as adornment.

The colour of Stacey Bentley’s enamelled jewellery is more subtle in tone. The enamel process used by Bentley often adds a roughness to her work, but the display at Dazzle this year includes an elegant selection of items with uniform lines and delicate construction.

Whilst much of the jewellery on display was concerned with pattern, texture, material and adornment, Mariko Sumioka’s work feels deeply persona. A brooch is constructed like a box of treasures; split into four part, two contain beads, a third is empty and the final quarter is covered, as if hiding a secret within. Sumioka is strongly influenced by architectural structures, but her translation of these forms is warm and inviting rather than cold and impersonal. Many of the items on display included small enameled rectangles, attached to a frame using red thread. Their ambiguity and apparent ephemeral nature (as something that is attached rather than adhered) only serve to increase their intrigue. It would be easy for any customer to attach their own stories, imagining letters from loved ones or labels on luggage.

The narrative hinted at in Sumioka’s work is more explicit in that of Becky Crow. Her display at Dazzle is playful and strongly inspired by the natural world. Circular brooches and pendants feature fairytale depictions of rural life: a child sitting in a tree, a woman with a watering can and a farmer raking his land. A pair of earrings hints at the darker side of fairytales with two wolves on their hind legs.

Review by Francesca Baseby

See & Buy: Dazzle @ Dovecot
Until 25 August 2014
Dovecot, 10 Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT
Daily 10.30am – 6.30pm
(also showing Current Exchanges – Dovecot & the Australian Tapestry Workshop)

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