Bettina Speckner @ Gallery Funaki

3 03 2009

I was a little oblivious to things during most of January and almost missed this incredible show. Happily though I did to see it in its last week, and loved it so much that I visited again in the extra week the show was extended. This exhibition was also reviewed here and here.

The Funaki website has the following quotation from Bettina: ‘I never work with the intention to decorate things or to make them look prettier. I try to discover the soul of an object or the essence of a photograph – I want to shape something new which appeals to me and to other people far beyond the optical appearance.

This is the first time I’ve seen Bettina’s work and I was completely stunned – I can often connect with individual pieces of most artists, but I experienced a significant and surprising emotional response to the entire group of works. The shapes evoked a kind of nostalgia, especially the bezel set pieces; a feeling clearly also influenced by the use of old black-and-white photos in many of the pieces. In my readings I remember seeing her work described as ‘quiet’, which seems perfect to me.

There were 28 pieces interspersed with images that at first may not have seemed entirely related to the work themselves; but I think their innocence, colouring and age-blur created a beautiful context for the jewellery. I responded so strongly to this exhibition –together it all just made sense and created a beauty beyond the individual components.

I didn’t take any photographs of the exhibition, as my camera was poorly, but sketched and took many notes.


In describing some of the pieces below, I’ve noted below where images can be found – I’ve used the title as well as the exhibition item-number in brackets (for my own reference); as the titles are a not unique to each piece, the descriptions are important to finding the piece. Links: Bettina Speckner, Gallery Funaki, Gallerie Spektrum, Arkene, Deux Poissons, Art Blart blog, Claudi Cucchi blog.

‘brooch 2004’ (02) [Funaki]: gorgeous cow photograph with milky-white droplet pearls; the choice of pearls is almost whimsical without being kitsch; the shape of the photograph is just beautiful;

‘earrings 2002’ (05) [Spektrum; labelled ‘earrings 2001’ here]: oval tree photographs playing with turquoise; the photographs are in enamel which give them a beautiful gloss that works with the glossy gems;

‘brooch 2006’ (06) [Arkene]: rectangular photograph of a rather straight-laced young woman, tied with red-orange jasper and pearls;

‘brooch 2007’ (07) [Bettina]: coral photograph juxtaposed within a rectangular frame with a pale pink kauri shell;

‘brooch 2007’ (08) [Funaki]: beautiful photograph of a vase with a little golden beryl set in the bloom; this is my favourite piece in the whole exhibition; I love the shape, the placement of the gem and the bi-colour frame;

‘brooch 2003’ (09) [Bettina]: beautifully composed grouping of a photograph of an alarm clock with opal drops and charcoal-coloured volcanic-looking rosettes; this one has grown on me the more I look at it;

‘earrings 2007’ (10) [DeuxPoissons]: slightly wilted daisies in teardrop shapes; again the photographs are enamelled and glossy, which works well with the polished yellow-gold surrounds;

‘brooch 2007’ (11) [Funaki]: collage ‘family’ of photographs; this is the key image used for the exhibition; some of the photographs are upside-down and makes me wonder if these people were ‘fallen’ or naughty or just plain different to the rest; the actual photographs are used which lends a fragility;


photograph from Funaki exhibition media

‘necklace 2006’ (12) [Bettina]: substantial necklace of dark quartz beads, chunks of vibrant blue lapis lazuli and two oval photographs of two views from the same balcony over a formal garden; the materiality and boldness of this is somewhat in contrast with many of the other quieter pieces, it is not loud but strong;

‘brooch 2002’ (13) [ArtBlart]: two images joined in an oval frame, both of formal garden hedges, one curvy and sensual and the other strictly geometric; the two images are wonderful together; this one has a surprise on the back;

‘brooch 2005’ (15) [Spektrum]: statue photograph split in two and put back together slightly askew; this one also has a surprise on the back;

‘brooch 2001’ (16) [Bettina]: photograph of rose buds, with four set black diamonds; the shape is similar to ‘brooch 2007’ (08);

‘brooch 2004’ (18) [DeuxPoissons]: oval photograph of coral with two pearls;

‘brooch 2006’ (19) [Arkene]: three co-joined oval photographs in enamel (trees and a classic statue) with quartz drops in autumnal colours;

‘earrings 2008’ (20) [Spektrum]: earrings similar to those called ‘earrings 2006’ shown here; transparent smoky grey pieces of axinite through which the delicate framing can be seen;

‘brooch 2004’ (21) [Spektrum]: photograph of cows relaxing in a field, with a fringe of three purple kauri shell; this one also has a surprise on the back;

‘brooch 2007’ (23) [Bettina]: square photograph of daffodils interrupted with tourmaline segments and sapphires; this one interested me, as it seemed to have an untamed energy that was not as evident in other works;

‘brooch 2003’ (24) [ClaudiaCucchi]: wings of daisy photographs flanking a small cameo; this one also has a surprise on the back;

‘brooch 2003’ (26) [Bettina]: brown mineral sample trapped in a yellow gold frame studded with little blue sapphires;

‘brooch 2006’ (27) [Bettina]: three images in conversation, one of rippled water between two of landscaped grounds with a lake and trees, with three red rubies; this is a wonderful piece;

‘brooch 2006’ (28) [Arkene]: a well-dressed man draped with bone flowers; this was in the window of the gallery; the flowers make an interesting counterpoint to the man’s formal dress – perhaps a new corsage.

While the images present the ‘front-face’ view, there is even more delight to be had in turning the objects over. Looking at the back of pieces means their beautiful construction can be appreciated more, and with Bettina’s work there is sometimes a surprise – incredibly detailed saw-piercing [‘brooch 2002’ (13) has the most gorgeous saw-pierced back frame] or precious gems set in the framework [again ‘brooch 2002’ (13) is set with a lovely peridot; ‘brooch 2005’(15) with a black diamond; ‘brooch 2004’(21) set with three amethysts].

I can see that some people would wonder why an artist would ‘hide’ such beauty from the ‘public view’ of an object, but to my way of thinking it is beauty that is reserved for the wearer, and that’s quite delicious and secretive (“I know something you don’t know”). I like this, both as a wearer and a maker. I could venture into discussing whether jewellery is worn for the wearer or those looking at the wearer – I’ll leave that for another day.



One response

13 03 2009

very good comments much appreciated 🙂


%d bloggers like this: