Modernist jewellery exhibition to launch next month

A collection of modernist jewellery will go on display at the National Museum of Scotland on Friday 1 December until 29 April 2018.

‘Modernist Jewellery’ will feature pieces acquired by National Museums Scotland through the Art Fund New Collecting Award project, Northern Modernist Jewellery, which was awarded to Sarah Rothwell, curator of Modern & Contemporary Design at National Museums Scotland in 2015.

Sarah said: ‘The works that have been collected for this project and which will be on display in ‘Modernist Jewellery’ highlight how individual designers and artists created unique works that were inspired by not only the artistic movement of modernism and its principles, but by the natural environment, and the material exploration they were conducting.

‘The resulting pieces range from the simplicity and functionalism that marked Nordic modernism to the highly textural gold work that became a symbol of British modernist jewellery.’

Articulated necklace, silver and enamel, designed by Grete Prytz Kittelsen (1917–2010) in 1952, for J Tolstrup, Norway copyright National Museums Scotland

The project focuses on collecting, researching and disseminating jewellery designed and manufactured in Britain and Northern Europe between 1945 and 1978.

On display will be examples of innovative design ranging from pieces showcasing the minimalist beauty of silver to highly textured gold work.

The selection of jewellery, which includes brooches, bangles, necklaces, earrings and pendants, highlights the varying styles of the designers from the modernist movement both within the Nordic countries and Britain.

‘Modernist Jewellery’ will explore designers and makers who embraced innovative and diverse influences.

These include Swedish designer Sigurd Persson, known for his individual style and elegant simple sculptural forms, and Finnish designer Björn Weckström, whose sculptural jewellery was inspired by the texture of gold nuggets found in Finnish Lapland.

Their work highlights how Scandinavian and Finnish designers led the way with the minimalist modernist aesthetic of the north, which defined a generation.

Furthermore, ‘Modernist Jewellery’ will shine a light on British modernist jewellery from this period which, unlike other British post-war design movements, has often been overlooked.

Pieces from both British and Nordic designers will showcase how individual designers came to influence – or were influenced – by modernism between 1945 and 1978.

This includes British designer Ernest Blyth, whose earliest works were inspired by the clean angles and forms of Scandinavian modernist design.

Stephen Deuchar, director, Art Fund said: ‘This is a fascinating exhibition that tells the story of British and Northern European modernism in its most wearable form.

‘Thanks to the vision of its talented curator Sarah Rothwell, who was awarded an Art Fund New Collecting Award to build a special collection in this field, the beautiful objects on show will remain forever with National Museums Scotland, publicly available for all to enjoy.’

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