Jewellery could give in­sight into per­son’s place in so­ci­ety

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGIA -

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WHAT does the word jewellery mean to you?

Jewellery can be a pre­cious keep­sake, a mem­ory of a per­son passed, a sym­bol of com­mit­ment and com­pan­ion­ship.

It can also act as fash­ion ac­ces­sory, an ex­pres­sion of per­sonal style, and so­cial and po­lit­i­cal be­liefs.

It can pro­vide an in­sight into a per­son’s wealth and sta­tus and what they choose to dis­play to oth­ers.

This por­trait by artist Henry Wy­att hangs in the 19th cen­tury gallery at The Wil­son.

It was painted in 1828 and shows a Re­gency lady wear­ing fine clothes and jewellery from the era.

She wears long drop ear­rings, a string of pearls and a long gold chain with spy­glass.

She holds the spy­glass in bejewelled fin­gers, her gold rings set with pre­cious stones.

This fash­ion­able lady’s pres­tige is demon­strated by the jewellery she wears and re­flects her place in so­ci­ety.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, there were de­vel­op­ments in in­ti­ma­tion jewellery.

Paste, a form of durable glass, was be­ing cut in a more so­phis­ti­cated way; it was cut with a larger num­ber of sides and this cre­ated a greater bril­liance and a more con­vinc­ing sim­i­lar­ity to pre­cious stones.

You can see ex­am­ples of paste used in 19th cen­tury tiaras within the same gallery space.

In the 20th cen­tury, peo­ple’s per­cep­tion of jewellery made from non-pre­cious ma­te­ri­als changed.

By the end of the cen­tury, in­stead of the idea of sim­ply im­i­tat­ing more ex­pen­sive ma­te­ri­als, non-pre­cious jewellery de­vel­oped its own iden­tity and con­ven­tional ideas around jewellery and sta­tus were chal­lenged.

Founders of con­tem­po­rary jewellery brand Tatty Devine, Rosie Wolfenden and Har­riet Vine, have em­braced non-pre­cious ma­te­ri­als in their work.

They grad­u­ated from art school in 1996 and started us­ing ready­made items found in places such as mar­ket stalls and char­ity shops, re­ally turn­ing ideas of ‘pre­cious’ jewellery on its head.

Their aes­thetic evolved af­ter dis­cov­er­ing laser cut­ting tech­nol­ogy.

They have used this tech­nique to cre­ate an ar­ray of in­no­va­tive pieces made from acrylic from ‘wear­able ba­nanas’ to lob­sters to po­lit­i­cal mes­sages.

You can see pieces of Tatty Devine jewellery at The Wil­son, a venue of The Cheltenham Trust, in the up­com­ing Tatty Devine and Crafts Coun­cil Tour­ing Ex­hi­bi­tion Mis­shapes: The Mak­ing of Tatty Devine, open­ing on Satur­day, Septem­ber 7 and run­ning un­til Sun­day, Novem­ber 3 (tick­ets £5/£3).

The Wil­son is open Tues­day– Wed­nes­day/fri­day–satur­day 9.30am-5.15pm; Thurs­day 9.30am–7.45pm and Sun­day 11am– 4pm.

You can find us on Face­book and Twit­ter as @Thewil­sonchelt and browse all our events on our web­site, chel­tenham­mu­seum.org.uk

The Henry Wy­att por­trait at The Wil­son

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