Lecture Programme 2014
My kind of alchemy: Turning dreams into gold
Although Giovanni Corvaja follows a very ancient tradition in his workshop in Todi in Italy, he has developed skills and techniques that have broken all previous bounds. Central to these is the ability to draw the precious yellow metal into threads hardly thicker than a spider’s silk. Creating a piece of jewellery or a gold object for Giovanni Corvaja is a task that might require a few months or even almost a year of solid, concentrated work. This diligent effort makes each piece a monument to time. Giovanni Corvaja will talk about his gold pieces and will show the “behind the scenes” of their creation.
Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill
Japanese metalsmithing and jewellery
The origins of Japanese fine metalworking can be traced to the arms and armour of the samurai warriors. This lecture traces the evolution of unique Japanese metalwork processes and materials from their medieval origins to their use today in Japan and internationally. Ongoing research projects into Japanese irogane alloys, and the fabrication of mokume-gane laminate metal will be discussed. Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill studied in the metalwork department at Tokyo University of the Arts (Geidai) from 1999 receiving a doctorate in 2005 for research in Japanese patination techniques. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow in Jewellery and Metalwork at Sheffield Hallam University.
Men and Jewellery in Tudor and Jacobean England
From the accession of Henry VIII in 1509 until the death of James I in 1625 men wore just as much jewellery as their female counterparts. Yet jewellery is often viewed as a feminine preoccupation. In this period, male ownership of jewels was about much more than just adorning the body. Jewellery had the power to reflect magnificence, lineage and wealth, as well as sustain social bonds and networks of exchange. This lecture investigates the significance of the jewels worn, owned and circulated by men in the sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries, in order to provide a contextual understanding of objects often considered as trifles of adornment.
Monica M. Jackson
Beauty and the Greek: Hellenistic Jewellery in the Benaki Museum
Following the conquests of Alexander the Great and the dispersal of the Persian treasure hoards, close links were formed with the East and Egypt which gave rise to a new Greco-Macedonian gold-working aesthetic. Polychromy was now added to the already rich range of decorative jewellery techniques and motifs. This lecture will discuss a selection of Hellenistic jewellery from the outstanding collection in the Benaki Museum Athens, in particular the Eros motif - worn for attraction, symbolism, status, and adornment.
The relationship between Indian jewellery and Victorian Britain
Jewellery from the Indian subcontinent caught the imagination of critics in Victorian Britain and by the late 1870s had become widely popular. However, by this time certain European techniques, styles and motifs had been assimilated into Indian jewellery production and closer analysis of the jewellery that was in vogue in Britain suggests that a complex and sometimes circular process of cultural influence was underway. This lecture will examine this exchange through the exhibitions of the day and the development of the vast collection of South Asian jewellery assembled at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which reflected and influenced British attitudes to Indian jewellery in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Torcs, bracelets and spiral finger rings: a re-examination of the jewellery from the Iron Age Snettisham Treasure
Over the past 60 years, astounding discoveries of precious metal objects, including torcs, bracelets and finger rings, have been made at Ken Hill, Snettisham, Norfolk. In total, 14 separate groups of objects, or hoards, dating to the second and first centuries BC have been discovered. The British Museum is currently undertaking a major research project including a comprehensive scientific analysis of the objects and a reassessment of the site. British Museum curator Jody Joy will discuss the results of the project, specifically the discovery of sophisticated metalworking techniques such as surface enrichment and mercury gilding.
Jewellery in the Netherlands, AD 400-1000: Metals, inlays, and meanings
In the Early Middle Ages, the present-day Netherlands was a cultural crossroads. This is mirrored by the archaeological finds of jewellery discovered there. The brooches, necklaces, bracelets, earrings and pendants from Merovingian, Carolingian and Viking contexts show a merging of various European styles and techniques. They also reflect a worldwide trade network of precious metals, gemstones, and ‘magic materials’ like rock crystal, amber, and amethyst. Recently, the inlays of hundreds of brooches found in Dutch soil have been scientifically analysed for their composition and provenance, showing, for instance, that all garnets in these brooches originally came from India, 8000 kms away.
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