Jewelry Follows Landscape

6 Minute Read

By Katja PoljanacMore from this author

It is the playing field of the unfettered desire of man to design. Farming, industrialization and urbanization leave enormous cultural footprints in nature. Landscape, for its part, forms a fundamental basis for human existence. As an emotional trigger, it influences man's thoughts and artistic creativity. It is both inspiration and source for choice of form and material.


Michael Reisch, Landscape 1/002, Lambda Print, edition 6 + 2 AP, 2004

Terhi Tolvanen, brooch "Cactus Arenosus Florens", silver, silk, wood, sand, polystyreen, 2004

Bettina Speckner, photo: coastal landscape "Estonia"

Bettina Speckner, brooch, enamel photos, silver, 2006

Stephanie Jendis, brooch "Mallorca", resin and wood found on the beach, synthetic stones

The works of Bettina Speckner are jewels formed form poetry. In her work, casual glances at naure, unspectacular architectural details are photographed and etched onto zinc plates or fired as enamel pictures. She assembles, captures moments like a silent witness whose reasons for doing so remain obscure. They appear incidental, and yet possess a strong associative charge. She seeks out the mysterious in the banality of everyday life.

Stephanie Jendis also collects that which she encounters on the road or in the course of her walks through nature. The finds are shifted to and fro, back and forth, recombined and reformulated until they reflect what she recognizes, such as memories of a district such as the Black Forest or the island of Mallorca.

The discovery of landscape…

We not only perceive it around us, but also within us. We make numerous images of it. Concepts of landscape can be seen in cinema, in genre painting, in postcards, as a nature reserve, park or excursion destination. And it can be witnessed in jewelry. The term landscape in the sense of a geographic section first occurred in English and German in the course of the 16th century. Prior to this, it was merely the term for a slice of territory and it inhabitants or representatives. An aesthetic view of nature as a source of enjoyment in its own right was unknown to citizens of the Ancient times or Middle Ages, however. These viewed the earthly world as an inhospitable place. Nature was the source of threats to man's very existence. The mountains or the seas were considered disturbing and ugly. It was only idealized idylls of Ancient times, such as a cool fountain or a meadow of flowers, that could serve as a literary stage in which lovers could meet or mythological scenes could be enacted. If nature did not comply with the standards of Paradise, then it represented sin and was not worthy of being depicted in the Medieval age.

…an invention!

This perception altered gradually in the 18th century, when the 'creation' of landscapes in the mold of the English Garden was elevated to the highest art form. 'Acessible landscape paintings' were created. These replaced the strict geometric forms of French gardens of the Baroque era. However, nature continued to only be desirable when touched by the sculpting hand of man. The granting of the title 'landscape' occurred only when the subject resembled a painting. The aestheticizing of landscape characteristics followed. Classicism elevated mountain ranges to heroic landscapes. In Romanticism they became reflections of the composure of the soul or 'landscapes of longing' with transcendental references.

Beppe Kessler uses contrasts that are not necessarily contradictory, optical phenomena of nature in her jewelry, such as in the neckpiece 'in storm and shine' or the brooch 'part noch deel'. It is divisions and boundaries that capture her attention, the place where the earth meets the sky, where the coast touches the sea. She grasps the course of the horizon and conveys it to her 'halverwege' brooch. She favors an individual sculptural approach, such as cutting into a surface to investigate subsequent forms.

Beppe Kessler, "Horizon"

Beppe Kessler, brooch "half way", gold, alabaster, balsa, 2005

With the onset of tourism in the Belle Epoque 'attractice' landscapes finally achieved a value in their own right. The appetite for surveying landscapes, of nature, which also spread through broader, sections of society, aroused awareness in the mid 19th century of the threat to the 'natural' world posed by industrialization. This was the starting point for local history and nature protection societies.

Landscaped areas finally emerged from the function of a decorative stage in the 1960s with Land Art, becoming an object of art in their own right. The close relationship between man and environment and the structuring creative process caused by interacting with it was moved to the fore in this artistic movement. Now, graphic artists such as Michael Reisch and Ruud van Empel or David Burdeny are blurring the borders between nature and culture with their vexing landscape constructions composed from digital photo montages.

Nature is not always the same thing as landscape. Today, geography defines the term as the "total character of an area of the earth", with all of its components. There are very few untouched areas of the world left; they have largely been transformed into cultural landscapes. Industrial plants are a particularly impressive embodiment of the merging of artificial and natural elements.

Removed from the real aspects of the unaesthetic, such as dirt and destruction, Georg Dobler locates aesthetic qualities in the technoid structures of industrial landscapes. The impetus for this, amongst others, comes from the documentary photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher. They provide typologies of the transition in industrial plant over the past 40 years in Europe and the USA.

Photo: industrial landscape

Georg Dobler, brooch "industrial landscape", silver, amethyst, 2003

In the urban jungle

Churches, traffic islands, parking lots, terraced houses - the borderline between chaos and order throws up constantly changing configurations. Alberto Zorzi and Stefan Heuser compress these into sculptural structures on their brooches.

Ann Schmalwaßer climbs into a sports plane and begins by taking in the images from above. She describes her impressions thus: "Rhythms dominate the field of vision, forms and colors meet in patterns in the distance or are interrupted by distinctive accents". In the studio these ten emerge as enameled miniatures, gaining their own new context.

Mediterranean "roofscapes' hugging the coastline where it meets the sea are interpreted by Jurgen Eickhoff into architecturally arrayed wire gauze structures. The brooches are characterized by their detached, bird's eye perspective. The mental act of seeking a purely aesthetic view of one's surroundings requires as internal and external sense of distance.

Marianne Schliwinski, photo: city panorama "Tate Modern Cafe", C-Print, 2005

Jurgen Eickhoff, photo: roofs

Jurgen Eickhoff, brooch, gold

Ann Schmalwaßer, brooch "Market place (Putbus)", aluminum, color, engraved, 2005

Within urban, concrete deserts, artificial oases nestle - parks, natural monuments, fenced front yards. The longing for feshness and vitality, for lush colors and shapes is free to unfold here. With 'Walled Gardens', Ramon Puig Cuyas has found a title "to use color and to play with fragments of plastic and colored stones without any limits, without any inhibitions. They are also a very personal way of trying to gain an intimate experience of freedom and to satisfy a deep need to feel alive" - truly the return to Paradise.

The link between the two elements, inerwoven with associations and impression, is also a source of inspiration for jewelry artists. The relations to jewelry may be tenuous, formulated from an inner perspective, or may be reflected lucidly in form and coloration.

Ramon Puig Cuyas, brooch "Walled Gardens", different materials, 2004

Mari Ishikawa, photo: treetop

Mari Ishikawa, rings, silver, gold, 2006

The brooch is a commonly-chosen jewelry type in this. It offers the greatest freedom of form and is most closely related to freehand sculptural work. It provides a glorious opportunity to view a work of art as something that need not be hung on a wall or placed on a plinth, but can simply be pinned to a lapel. Why not a landscape impression, too?

by Katja Poljanac

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Katja Poljanac

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