Taking time out from thinking profound thoughts about contemporary jewelry, we here at AJF recently found ourselves watching Disney-Pixar’s movie Up! (the one with the old man, the kid, the house and all those balloons). It is, along with many other things, a moving meditation on the powerful nature of jewelry, in this case badges. From the grape soda bottle top with safety pin which becomes a treasured memento of one man’s love for his wife and a souvenir of memories of their shared childhood adventures and dreams, to the badges that cover the sash of a Scouts-like wilderness adventure group, Up! is an excellent reminder that jewelry’s significance doesn’t have to come from either precious materials or artistic statements.
Indeed, what is so notable about this movie is the way it reveals that one of the deep veins of meaning and significance for jewelry has nothing to do with the work of the jeweler – skill or questions of art – at all. Meaning is generated around the badge through personal and social relationships that can be attached to any object. It is an example of the talisman, which has a rich history in jewelry. Unlike the amulet, in which power comes from what the object is (a tooth or claw to ward off dangerous animals, for example), the talisman’s meaning is invested in the object through ritual. A talisman can be made of anything, even a discarded bottle top. After watching Up! we found ourselves wondering why contemporary jewelry seldom seems to achieve such significance. And how interesting it is that such potential remains alive in jewelry, waiting to be activated.
I was particularly drawn to the statement which i've highlighted in red. The idea behind 'charged' adornment & jewellery has been an ongoing topic of interest for me, focusing much of my attention on amulets and talismans and the potency of personal 'charms'. From my research, both visual and theoretical i've tried to extract the 'essence' of what gives an object talismanic properties and inject it into my own work. But really, what i'm realising more and more is that, as a maker, you can only provide a vessel, the power and potency comes from the belief and significance imbued by the owner. There are a myriad of reasons why people chose non specific, non indoctrinated objects as their talismanic tokens, most of them are either highly personal or intuitive. A badge becomes a talisman when it comes to embody an individual's desires, dreams, memories and experiences, this is something that cannot be fabricated.
What i try to do is appeal to people's sentiment, intuition and intrigue. By creating things that are at once vaguely familiar as they are mysterious and abstract, i invite people to make friends with pieces that they can project their own stories onto.
This is such a multi faceted topic that i'm still only just unpacking the surface layer of, but it's great to read articles that are addressing and discussing these things.
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