Lecture Programme 2016
The Torc in Iron Age Europe
The metal neck ring, or torc, is a symbol that has become inextricably linked with the ancient Celts. To the ancient Greek and Roman authors this was a singular trope relating to a unified Celtic identity, one of many differences which set their barbarous northern neighbours apart from the classical Mediterranean. The reality was far more fragmented and complex. British Museum curator Dr Julia Farley will discuss the importance of jewellery as a way for the peoples of Iron Age Europe to express their personal and regional identities, and highlight the local variations in styles, materials and metalworking techniques that expose the differences between the peoples who made and wore these stunning objects. This lecture accompanies a new
exhibition on the Celts at the British Museum.
AGM followed by
A Journey to India: the Jewellers’ Art Revealed
The V&A is currently hosting a major exhibition of jewelled objects made in, or inspired by, India. The exhibition,
‘Bejewelled Treasures: The Al Thani Collection’,
is open until the 28th March 2016. In order to understand better some of the unique methods and materials used in traditional manufacture, Joanna travelled with the curator of the exhibition, Susan Stronge, to India. With privileged access to workshops rarely shared beyond small communities in the trade, much was gleaned. The main focus of this talk will be the technique most closely associated with jewelled objects of the Mughal period, and still practiced today, kundan work, that is, the setting of gems using highly refined gold, into enamelled gold or into other gem materials such as nephrite jade, rock crystal or even emerald. This work will be compared to contemporary practices in India.
Navajo and Pueblo jewellery of the American Southwest
Navajo and Pueblo jewellery of the American Southwest is live in our imagination as a combination of silver and turquoise. In historical terms Navajo and Pueblo jewellery went through a number of changes brought about by the influence of outsiders, including traders, dealers, collectors as well as Native American jewellers themselves. Less analysed in the literature is the moment in the mid-20th century when Native American jewellers were positioned and positioned themselves in the development of the modern American studio jewellery movement. Revealing links between the UK and the USA in terms of craft training, this will explore how the initiatives and the innovators in the mid-20th century have influenced the manner in which Native American jewellery is made and understood today. This lecture comes from nearly two decades of research recently published by the British Museum in 'Surviving Desires: Making and Selling Native Jewellery in the American Southwest'.
Bronze Age bodily adornment: how was it made and worn
This talk will review the key changes in the way ornaments were made through the British and Irish Bronze Age (from c.2500-800 BC). It will track the changes from the earliest sheet gold to more complex three-dimensional gold and bronze ornaments in terms of the technological processes of forming and decorating. The number of ornaments being deposited, the way in which they were worn and the context in which they were deposited at the ends of their life cycles changed at various stages in this period, sometimes dramatically. This paper will chart these patterns and explain what they tell us about attitudes to bodily adornment and social and religious concepts. It also provides an opportunity to share recent, new discoveries of Bronze Age ornaments found through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, some of which are rewriting our understanding of adornment during this period.
The Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna's contacts with Paris jewellers and her collection of treasures
Grand Duke Vladimir and his wife Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna held key positions in Russia, especially in the reign of Alexander III, when she was formally the second lady of the Empire. Her collection of jewels and silver objets d'art was recognized as one of the most significant in the world. A big part of her collection came from the best known Parisian jewellers, among them such firms as Chaumet, Falize, Boucheron, Cartier, Aucoc, but many others as well. There is a vast amount of information about some pieces of art belonging to the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess in Russian archives, which has only become available to specialists recently.
Bogus or Real: Jewellery and the Capture of Human Drama
Art-jewellery cannot be completely free of context. Every material or process has an embedded material cultural history. The goldsmith has an inescapable history but this is not a burden, conundrum or impediment to make an original statement. New jewellery can be invented and illustrated with fictitious evidence. Historic or contemporary renderings of the human drama are available for subversion using the jewellery artifact to convey contextual meanings. Jewellery is the vehicle.
Fabergé and London
Although founded and based in Russia, Fabergé was very much an Anglo-Russian business, and its jewelled and enamelled stock was as popular in London as it was in St. Petersburg. The only branch of the business outside Russia was in London, which opened in 1903 and closed just before the revolution of 1917. Referencing a previously unknown archive, Kieran will talk about the London branch’s structure, stock and glittering clientele and explore how the branch’s operations evolved to reflect developments of the business in Russia. It will also chronicle for the first time the acrimonious breakdown of the partnership that led to its founding and reveal the challenges Fabergé faced in Britain.
Links to previous Lecture Programmes