Vices & Virtues Showcase

Introducing our next creative jewellery showcase Vices & Virtues. 

Explore the artworks of 7 contemporary jewellers as they interpret the theme of Vices & Virtues for our summer showcase. Featuring tempting gemstones good enough to bite, luminous statement jewellery, and sentimental bottle top brooches. Starting on Monday 15th July, we will be showcasing jewellery by Momocreatura, Ling Yin Shum, Kristina Merchant, Misha McLean, Qiang Li, Georgina Hopkin, and Elsa Tierney.

While planning Vices and Virtues, we have been on a journey with the curation of the project. Initially our focus was on the jovial elements of the message. Inspired by the tasty treats and trompe l'oeil creations from our amazing up and coming artists. Like any research project, the deeper you dive, the more layers you understand of these pieces. The appreciation of these works lies in the uniquely enticing story told by each artist.

Vices and Virtues imply a moral hierarchy created by society, yet the jewellers' level of artistry and thought may challenge the logic of this concept entirely. Take Kristina Merchant’s cigarette, so beautifully carved in amber and rolled fine silver, pure materials crafted from the earth. Designed with love to celebrate her grandmother. While society aims to eradicate smoking from a medical perspective, there is no doubt that its historical romance was a pervasive pleasure for decades. This object of desire may amuse, revolt and shock the viewer.

We were challenged by Elsa Tierney on our categorisation of her nudes, (not lust) we wholeheartedly welcomed her opinion and adore them all the more for their virtuous harmony. 

With warmth we share the story of Isla Gillhams journey to becoming a jeweller. Her now iconic bitten gems were inspired by an act of parental magic many years ago that changed the course of her career and made its place in family legend. 

You will be entranced by the detail in Qiang Li’s exquisite tasty treats. Reinterpreting our ‘greed’ into a tale of family communion and moments to treasure.

We are lucky enough to have Misha McLean delivering work straight from her successful degree show. We love the freshness of her concepts and depth of her thought, demonstrating the amazing research that has gone into her creations above and beyond the material skill.

We were entranced by the magic of Ling Yin Shum’s degree work from Central St Martins. Its effervescent expression of lightness of being and human connection elevates our spirit. Their unity lies in the contrasts they offer. Light and dark depending on your perspective of life. 

Glasgow-based artist Kristina Merchant’s diverse work experience, including spells as a shop assistant, customer service advisor, and bartender, has cultivated a heightened awareness of her surroundings.

These roles, combined with her art studies, have led her to a practice that explores discarded Scottish cultural ephemera. Kristina's work reflects the Vices and Virtues theme through a unique lens, particularly focusing on personal memories of her Nana Irene a pub landlady. By examining the remnants of her Nana's vices—cigarette butts, empty bottles—Kristina delves into the vices of smoking and drinking and their impact on personal and familial relationships. Her pieces transform these discarded items into jewellery, highlighting the complex interplay between vice and the sense of nostalgia and warmth often associated with loved ones.

This exploration positions Kristina's work within the delicate balance between comfort and affection, encouraging viewers to reflect on how vices shape our memories and relationships. Through this intimate lens, Kristina's jewellery challenges us to consider the duality of vice and virtue in our own lives and the lives of those we cherish.

Qiang (Helen) Li is an award-winning Jewellery & Object designer and artist based in London. Her jewellery work is a means of communicating new concepts relating to body and satisfaction. She is interested in expressing the strong emotional connections between jewellery and food, nature and surprises in our daily life. 

Qiang specialize in the creative development of fine jewellery. She is working with precious metal, precious and semi-precious gemstones. Her technical practice explores interactions between jewellery and desire leading to "fun jewellery" and inventive creations in the different cultural backgrounds of the East and the West.

Qiang’s jewels are designed around the theme of ‘Dim sum’ traditionally served at lunch with tea and means to ‘ touch the heart’. These labour intensive and complex small delicacies have been translated into vibrant jewels. Our eyes feast greedily on her miniature banquet of gold and gemstones, visually devouring the playful lilliputian detail. Each tantalising morsel of carved jade and delicious plump silver dumplings, laid out on the body like ‘haute cuisine’. Every jewel intriguing in the refined richness of their design; lighter on the body, but rather more decadent on the wallet.

It is human nature to allow childhood stories to shape your future. We all enjoy reflecting on intrinsic memories from family life and where they guide us. In this case it was Isla’s Great-grandfather George, a mechanic by day and a hobbyist jeweller, who decided to hand craft a tiara for his daughter Beryl’s birthday. As part of the birthday surprise, instead of jewels, sugar-coated ‘Jelly Tots’ adorned the crown! Imagine the childhood delight and laughter? It was by far her favourite present that year.

This story decades earlier went down as family legend, a story retold to Isla by her mother. This tale of joy inspired Isla to forge a creative path.  Although Isla has never seen the tiara or a photo of it, this allowed the freedom for a new interpretation. She dreamed of how it would look; filigree, timelessly beautiful and maybe slightly nibbled?

Almost half a century later, with this treasured family story as her prevailing inspiration, Isla designs her own precious pieces with delicious twists; playing on the tempting and indulgent nature of jewels and gemstones. Her work fulfils both ‘Vices and Virtues’ as we are tempted by these juicy gems, but take joy in the childhood magic of how they came to be. Can you resist the temptation to take a bite of these tasty treats?

Stay tuned for more information on our other artists, and shop pieces from the showcase HERE


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