‘Unexpected Pleasures’ @ NGV

19 07 2012

It’s only taken me three months (humpf), but I have finally managed to get a lucky day when everything is just right to visit ‘Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery‘ at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV).

image taken with gallery permission

Exhibition media: “Unexpected Pleasures looks at what we mean by jewellery from a number of different perspectives.  Taking as its starting point the radical experiments of the Contemporary Jewellery Movement that challenged a conventional understanding of the language of personal adornment, and looking instead at the essential meanings of jewellery, the exhibition brings together important work from around the world, and looks at it from the point of view of the wearer as well as the maker. Contemporary  Jewellery in this sense is at the intersection of art and design.  Curated by Dr. Susan Cohn for the Design Museum, London with exhibition design by Ab Rogers Design and graphics by Barnbrook.

image taken with gallery permission

There is so much to look at. As you can see in the two images above, the large room is split into two distinct areas – one with body-height plinths and video and photography, and the other very austere with hip-height plinths.

image taken with gallery permission

The scale of this exhibition is incredibly impressive.

Over the years I’ve been described by others, and am beginning to own the descriptor, as conservative in my aesthetics. I found this experience while visiting ‘Schmuck’ a few years ago, and again in this exhibition – I respond more to pieces that are quieter and restrained. It’s not that I don’t like the other work, nor that I don’t appreciate it (for I certainly do!) … it’s just a personal tendency.

Though that said, it may surprise and seem rather inconsistent that one my favourite pieces here is the neckpiece below: Ruudt Peters, Lingum 14 Black.

Ruudt Peters, Lingum 14 Black; image taken with gallery permission (no flash)

Other pieces I liked very much included a Bettina Speckner brooch and:

  • John Iversen, Cracked Up, 2009-10 (image here)
  • Beppe Kesler, Timeless, 2008 (artist’s site)
  • Shunichiro Nakashima, Maki Series, 2012 (images of similar here)
  • Gilbert Riedelbauch, CSH Brooch, 2001 (image on artist’s blog)
  • Robert Smit, Square, 1991 (image here)
  • Tjep, Bling Bling, 2002 (image on artist’s site)

The many many pieces in the exhibition are grouped sympathetically and I like the story it tells. The cabinet work is spectacular too.

Many other writers / bloggers have already seen and written about this exhibition, among them:

I’m still processing my visit … I can so easily get overwhelmed with so much to look at.

Unexpected Pleasures‘ is at NGV until 26th August 2012.
There are still a number of events attached to the exhibition – so check on their site to join in.



2 responses

20 07 2012
Thoughts on ‘contemporary jewellery’ « Melbourne Jeweller

[…] my recent visit to ‘Unexpected Pleasures‘ at the NGV, I’ve been giving it more […]

24 07 2012
Claire O'Halloran

Thanks for this review Karen! I’m so sad that I’m missing this exhibition, but your images show me what a beautiful job they have done installing the work. I love those body-height plinths – very elegant design.

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