One glorious morning in June, my husband and I set out on a trip to the small Dutch town Ravenstein which houses a charming Museum for glass and enamel art. I had enjoyed my visit to the First International Exhibition, organized in 2007, and I was greatly looking forward to our visit, wondering if this ‘Second Exhibition’ might be the start of a biennial happening, a bit like we used to have in France, in Limoges.
If this would be the case, Mr. Jan Klink of the Museum would have set a trail-blazing path.
Much has happened in the Netherlands in the field of enameling during the past two years. Interest in enameling has grown and the number of places where students can learn how to enamel has increased rapidly. The new students are mainly professional jewelers or artists, interested in jeweler. Precious Metal Clay has greatly increased in popularity, finding a place in many enameling studios.
At this moment it seems that a gradual shift has set in, from panel making to jeweler work, but this impression may well be wrong because several commercial enamel factories in other European countries have opened their doors for enamellers again and it is to be hoped that factories in our country will follow their example.
There is much to be seen and enjoyed in this year’s exhibition in which 46 enamellers show their work. The showcases contain such a diverse collection that it is impossible for me to mention every item.
Let me start by saying that I was pleased to see the work of old friends and acquaintances again. Edmund Massow’s fine necklaces, Leen Loffeld’s plique-a-jour work, or Maria Berreklouw’s Sea Creatures are as beautiful as ever and the works by Babs Bannenberg brought happy memories. Victoria van den Bergh shows a black-and-white necklace that is splendid in its seeming simplicity. Andreu Vilasis’ marvelous painted enamels and the works by Babs Bannenberg bring back happy memories of holiday courses in Salou and visits to Bab’s home.
However, being of the opinion that art works should reflect and be inspired by the time in which we live, I was most impressed by the unusual, eye-catching work of Liana Pattihis and the brooches by Stephanie Fleck. Stephanie allows us to see more than we had expected. These fascinating brooches show how true it is that the idea may, sometimes, be more important than excellence of execution-r.
Kathleen Reeves shows us how to transfer Victorian plant labels into their modern equivalents, just using black, white and colorless transparent enamels and finding her inspiration in the flowers from her own garden. The brooches she shows form a unity which should not be disturbed and I can see them in my mind’s eye, lying together in my showcase waiting to be admired.
Robean Visschers shows a ring which I can also visualize lying in my showcase. It’s three dimensional design should probably be suitable only for rich, slender hands lying empty on someone’s lap, waiting to be admired. This is one of the objects on show that, because of its fairy-like quality combined with present- day techniques, is of all times.
Also of all times are the necklaces and special pendants made by Ruud de Caluwe. I have known Ruud for a long time and his work remains fascinating for me. It has the atmosphere of Middle Earth as described in the novels by Tolkien. The pendants might well have been forged by elves or trolls, and they conjure up magical moments.
I also like to mention the work of Ann Schmalwasser. Her brooch ‘eismeer’ makes me see and feel the cold water of a frozen sea. It has, somehow, the same atmosphere as the necklaces made by Silke Trekel. Silke clearly is a master in designing jewelry.
One last word about Gudrun Wiesmannts brooches. Gudrun studied architecture and graphic arts and one can see that this has been of influence in her designs. Her brooches show geometric shapes in a limited number of colors, for instance flux and crackles white. These brooches are timeless.
To anyone whose name is not mentioned in this summary I wish to say: Please realize that my choice is purely personal and that other commentators would undoubtedly have made other choices. The sheer fact that your pieces were accepted for show at this Museum, is enough to know that you are making pieces that are worthwhile.
I congratulate Jan Klink and his staff of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers on having set up such an interesting show. I shall now start looking forward to the following exhibition.