Jewellery as an Academic Topic

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a SNAG conference (Society of North American Goldsmiths) in Seattle, Washington. This annual traveling event for jewellers centers around lectures and exhibitions of contemporary jewellery. There was also a vendor room with tools and technical demonstrations as well as a trunk show of members work for sale.

Jewellery as an academic topic may be a little surprising to some but I was loving it! So you might wonder how jewellery can be about anything other than a decorative ornament. If that is the case you should think of jewellery like you would painting on sculpture. Metals, gemstones, and alternative materials are the medium for this artistic expression and the body is the natural place to display the message.

My favorite lecture was by Damian Skinner a writer and curator from New Zealand. He spoke about artists creating what he called “ambitious jewellery” as a means to convey important ideas with both a local and international focus. What I liked about his talk was that he acknowledged that so much of what we think of as contemporary jewellery has really only been informed by a few countries in Europe and now the United States.

This view of contemporary jewellery is quite narrow and excludes so much of what the rest of the world has done and is currently doing. As a Canadian attending this conference for the first time I felt that most of the work on display reflected American contemporary jewellery. It was for this reason that Damians lecture resonated with me and made me think about Canadas contemporary jewellery scene and how it differs from the states.

In 2013 SNAG will be coming to Toronto where we will get our chance to show the jewellery community what it is we do here in Canada! I will keep you updated on the plans for this exciting event as they unfold. If you would like to get involved check out the facebook group for SNAG Meta-Mosaic.


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