Jewellery is one of the most wide-ranging areas of the applied arts: despite the small size of most pieces of jewellery, they are intimately close to people. This exhibition highlights art jewellery as a means of individual self-expression that values people in diverse ways, offering them new visions and contexts, and it is based on experimentality in ideas, use of materials and the required skills.
The emphasis on variety and transformations through time is the reason for the chronological structure of the exhibition. On display are the intricate skills of goldsmiths and the glamour of precious stones, the expressiveness and decorativeness of well-designed forms and the boundless ideas captured in their lavish and symbolic use of materials.
Besides jewellery itself, the exhibition also investigates the professional context by revealing the educational and production backgrounds of the artists, explaining the main concepts and materials of jewellery and talking about jewellery exhibitions: many of the factors that have shaped the history of Estonian jewellery.
The exhibition uses the term “art jewellery” to denote jewellery that is intended to be individual and to represent alternative choices and inspiration, expressing the sensibilities and uniqueness of the author. Art jewellery is made from beginning to end by artists, with their characteristic skills and materials. The time and skills it takes to create a piece of jewellery are closely connected with the idea of the piece: only by controlling both aspects can the artist achieve the desired precision and quality. Contemporary art jewellery experiments daringly with ideas, materials, forms and functions, constantly trying to critically re-evaluate the author, body, traditions, mythologies, rituals and customs. The function of adorning a person doesn’t disappear but expands; it affirms that art jewellery still involves looking at what is human in the widest way possible.
This selection of objects from the 1950s to the present day allows us to look at jewellery as an independent art form and the viewer can sense, explore, interpret and broaden all of jewellery’s possible meanings. Art jewellery conveys the characteristic elements of its time but can also transcend time. Without experiencing jewellery visually, it is hard to comprehend its diversity, since, by nature, most of the pieces disappear soon after completion into the collections of wearers, museums and private collectors.
Over 300 works from 86 authors are displayed. The selection is based mostly on the jewellery collection of the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design, where nearly 900 items are on display in the permanent exhibition “Collected Works”. Additional items come from the Tartu Art Museum and the private collections of the authors.
Ketli Tiitsar is an artist and curator who works at the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design. She graduated as a jewellery artist from the Estonian Academy of Arts and has actively participated in and curated exhibitions since 1996.
The exhibition is a co-production of the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design and the Tartu Art Museum.
Curator: Ketli Tiitsar
Co-ordinator: Kristlyn Liier
Exhibition design: Helen Oja, Raul Kalvo
Graphic design: Tuuli Aule
Editors: Hille Saluäär, Richard Adang
Translation: Peeter Talvistu
ETDM: Kristi Paap, Kai Lobjakas, Toomas Übner, Helen Adamson, Kaire Rannik, Anne Raud, Ago Märjamaa, Ian Märjamaa, Paul Rannik
Tartmus: Nele Ambos, Tanel Asmer, Indrek Grigor, Joanna Hoffmann, Mare Joonsalu, Margus Joonsalu, Jaanika Kuznetsova, Katrin Lõoke, Kristel Sibul, Kristo Tamm, Ago Teedema
Thank you: Eve Margus-Villems, Piret Hirv, Liina Lõõbas, Claudia Lepik, Kristiin Elmat, Kristo Pachel, Kadri Mälk, Kärt Summatavet, Anna-Maria Saar, Marita Lumi, Mari Käbin, Kristiina Laurits, Tanel Veenre, Anneli Tammik, Eilve Manglus, Kertu Tuberg, Pilleriin Jürisoo, Kätrin Beljaev, Krista Lehari, Jaanika Pajuste, Sofia Hallik, Merle Kasonen, Hanna-Maria Vanaküla, Triin Kukk, Jaan Pärn
“The Anatomy of Estonian Art Jewellery 1953-2019” exhibition booklet
Photographer Taavi Piibemann