Recently I was awarded a special mention at the South African Contemporary Jewellery Awards held at the FADA Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa. I’d like to talk a little about the piece I entered, titled Poeletjie.
For more information about the SA Contemporary Jewellery Awards, the judges and the winners, visit http://fadagallery.blogspot.de/2018/03/and-winner-is-sa-contemporary-jewellery.html. The winners are also featured in the April issue of Creative Feel Magazine: https://creativefeel.co.za/2018/04/sa-contemporary-jewellery-awards-exhibition-2018-winners-announced/.
With this particular piece, titled ‘Poeletjie’, Afrikaans for puddle or small pool, I attempted to investigate my own fascination with water and its elusiveness. Water has the paradoxical characteristic of being immensely powerful (both as a force of nature and in its importance for humanity’s survival) yet also incredibly fragile, easily polluted and its systems tilted off-balance. It is mysterious, difficult to quantify. Water harbours some of our most profound fears in its darkest unexplored depths, and it is sheer gushing life and vibrancy. On a personal level, I am drawn to water, to its sparkling surface that reflects the world around it fractured into a million splinters. Water invites me in. I want to dive in and submerge myself; I find few things more calming than the gentle caress of water moving over skin. On daily commute to my studio in Berlin I have to cross a river and a canal, and I always cycle slower or stop to bask in that spectacle of sky and buildings and light reflected in water. It is stable and unstable at the same time, always there but never, ever the same than before.
Water carves away ancient stone with patient drops – literally shaping the landscapes that form our human stories, our identities. I thought about the links between water and human identities, how we are affected by floods, rain, drought, how we identify as river-people or sea-people or desert people. Water in itself can be seen as a metaphor for human identities with its perfectly contradictory embodiment of fragility and monumentality: water is an immensely powerful force of nature, yet so easily polluted and vulnerable. And like myself in my existence – a dance between two countries, two cities – water succeeds in having multiple identities at the same time.
In this piece, I sought to indulge my fascination with water and combine it with my interest in identities. As an ‘identity-hopper’, both South-African and European, I am curious how narrative constructs human identities – especially their overlaps and boundaries. Identities are infinitely complex and fragmented compositions, often paradoxical, fragile and fluid yet so powerfully definitive, something I attempt to represent visually in the form of complicated, multi-layered structures in my jewellery and drawings, stories-in-stories-in-stories. Poeletjie also embodies these multiple stories by being both pendant and brooch, and also sculpture/object, so its ‘purpose’ is not really supposed to be prescriptive.
My thoughts were circling around different water themes for some time, sparked by news of the severe water crisis currently threatening Cape Town, my hometown, and the contrasting wastage I experience in Berlin, where dishes are washed under a running tap. However, the horrors of drought are not really my key concern in this piece. It is more a celebration of the life-bringing forces of water: think tidal pools, fern-covered waterfalls, think abundance, verdant gardens, fertile dreams.