Works

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Visual Arts - Bron­wyn Watson

pub­lic Sam Tho Duong, Col­lec­tion Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia. Gift of Truus and Joost Daalder through the Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia Foun­da­tion 2017. On dis­play, Art Gallery of South Aus­tralia, Ade­laide. In 1981, when Sam Tho Duong was a teenager, his fam­ily fled his home town of Bien Hoa in Viet­nam and es­caped by boat from the com­mu­nist regime. His two el­dest broth­ers went to the US but the five younger chil­dren, in­clud­ing Duong, ended up in Ger­many. Per­haps aus­pi­ciously, they set­tled in Pforzheim, nick­named the “city of gold” be­cause of its jew­ellery in­dus­try, which dates back to the 1700s.

In a city where pearls, gold and pre­cious stones are ubiq­ui­tous, Duong de­cided to study jew­ellery and de­sign, and com­plete a gold- smithing ap­pren­tice­ship. Since ce then he has worked as a free­lance con­tem­po­rary jew­eller. He is well re­garded for com­bin­ing his traa­di­tional train­ing with meticu- lous deft­ness in tech­nique and an in­no­va­tive ap­proach to de­sign. He has been awarded one of the most cov­eted de­sign prizes in in­ter­na­tional jew­ellery, the Her­bert t Hof­mann Prize, and his work k has been col­lected by in­sti­tuu­tions such as the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum in London and d the Mu­seum of Arts and De­sign in New York. One of his pieces, Frozen, n, is also a re­cent ad­di­tion to the Art Gallery of fS South th A Aus­tralia col­lec­tion thanks to the gen­eros­ity of Ade­laide-based donors Truus and Joost Daalder, who over­all do­nated 161 pieces of Aus­tralian and in­ter­na­tional jew­ellery.

Duong’s Frozen se­ries of neck­pieces and brooches from 2011 was in­spired by the snowladen branches of bare trees in the mid­dle of a Ger­man win­ter. Speak­ing of this in­spi­ra­tion, Duong re­cently said: “My neck­laces re­mind me of na­ture. If the tem­per­a­ture is well below zero degr de­grees Cel­sius, the bark and ski skin of branches, twigs and fru fruits are cov­ered with beau­tifu ful ice crys­tals. I try to transla late this in­spi­ra­tion into my je jew­ellery.” The Frozen neckpi piece at the Art Gallery of So South Aus­tralia fea­tures hun­dre dreds of tiny oval-shaped seed pear pearls which are se­cured in clus­ters o of spher­i­cal forms by in­vis­i­ble ny­lon nyl thread on to sil­ver balls to cre­ate a sculp­tural form. At the galler gallery, the cu­ra­tor of Euro­pean and dA Aus­tralian t li d dec­o­ra­tive arts, Re­becca Evans, shows me the neck­piece and ex­plains that seed pearls are very small nat­u­ral pearls that usu­ally mea­sure less than 2mm in di­am­e­ter and haven’t had enough time in the shell to be­come big­ger. Seed pearls, she says, have a long his­tory in the Western tra­di­tion be­cause they were used as a sym­bol of tears and were of­ten used in mourn­ing jew­ellery. “This neck­piece pays ho­mage to this Euro­pean tra­di­tion through his bound clus­ters of sculp- tu­ral seed pearls cap­tur­ing the fleet­ing beauty of a Euro­pean win­ter,” she says. “You can imag­ine what im­pact that scene of snow on a tree would have had on a young Viet­namese mi­grant mov­ing to Ger­many as a kid.”

Truus and Joost Daalder bought Frozen in Am­s­ter­dam at a jew­ellery fair run by one of the most im­por­tant jew­ellery gal­leries in the world, Ga­lerie Ra, says Evans. “The in­ter­est­ing thing is that they both saw the piece sep­a­rately,” she says, “and both agreed sep­a­rately that it was some­thing that they just had to ac­quire.”

Evans knew about Frozen while it was owned by the Daalders for a long time be­fore it came into the gallery col­lec­tion. “Its com­pan­ion piece is in the Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum and it has al­ways been the piece that beck­oned me to woo Truus and Joost to think about gift­ing their col­lec­tion to the gallery,” she says. “It has al­ways been the star, a work that has made my heart beat the fastest.

“There is some­thing about it that unites for me what con­tem­po­rary jew­ellery is all about — tra­di­tional met­al­work train­ing, the ex­quis­ite ex­e­cu­tion of tech­nique and ma­te­ri­als, but also some­thing highly orig­i­nal and in­no­va­tive in terms of its de­sign. It is a spec­tac­u­lar piece and I think there is noth­ing quite like it.”

Ma­te­ri­als: ox­i­dised sil­ver, pearls, ny­lon; 43.5cm x 20cm x 3.5cm

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