In their own words is an exhibition examining the relationship between art objects and the words often used to describe these objects. Nine artists working in different media were invited to describe one of their works and submit this for inclusion in the exhibition. In a reversal of the typical gallery experience, the artists’ words were displayed in lieu of their works.
Nine poets were invited to write a text about one of the works based only on the visual submitted by the artists, with no other knowledge of the artist or their work. These texts were displayed on the walls in a format akin to the pages of a book.
Nine jewellers were invited to produce a piece of work responding to the artists’ words without knowing the identity of the artist and without seeing the visual image or the work. These works will be displayed without any additional text in glass vitrines.
The exhibition was initiated by fine artist / writer John Clark. The jewellery section was co-curated by Maria Hanson and Julia Keyte.
The Following Jewellers participated in this project:
The exhibition operates on a number of different levels. On the surface level the exhibition is informed by the practice of contemporary gallery display. The plethora of texts surrounding, describing, accompanying, rendering readable or unreadable individual works and exhibitions almost assault the present day gallery-goer. These texts have been named [con]texts, existing as they do both inside and outside the work[s].
The exhibition is also underpinned by theories or ideas from the field of literary stylistics and museology studies. The literary technique of ekphrasis (in the classical sense of verbally describing a work of art) has a well established history but one that is questionable in a contemporary setting – what exactly does one describe when a work is no longer visual in the traditional sense? The rhetorical effect of hypotyposis (rendering a visual scene in language) may be more applicable today. Both of theses devices undoubtedly colour the experience of the contemporary art viewer but have been perhaps less explored as the subject of an exhibition.
In relation to the objectives outline above, the exhibition seeks to explore the thorny / contentious issues of labelling applied to art and craft. Jewellery, with its roots firmly in craft practice, is presented alongside art and poetry. Simultaneously the exhibition implements an interdisciplinary creative process.
The exhibition was first shown at the End Gallery in Sheffield in March 2007 and then in Manchester in July 2007 during the 11th Ars Ornata European Jewellery conference.