Building Blocks

Building Blocks – Architecture x Jewellery at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design - Floor Talk

As one of the exhibiting designers in Building Blocks – Architecture x Jewellery, I’ve been asked to speak about the connection between architecture and jewellery so I could discuss architecture as a subject or inspiration for making jewellery. Certainly the work of Jessamy Pollock who is another exhibiting jeweller could be spoken of in these terms. I could also speak about the parallels between the technical and design processes in creating works of jewellery and architecture, of which there are a surprising number. I could speak of the procurement of client-based and site-specific works that is common to both jewellery and architecture…but I’m not going to do that.  

Instead, I’d like to speak about a more essential relationship between jewellery and architecture, that is, the way both mediums resonate with notions of home.  Despite their very different body/object relationships, buildings exist at a scale that allows them to contain the body and jewellery exists at a scale that means it is contained by the body, jewellery and architecture share in the fact that we inhabit them both.  When we wear jewellery we find ourselves on the inside of the work, it becomes part of our bodies and therefore not exterior to us, but part of our skin. It’s this relationship between inside and outside that connects these two very different typologies of object. So, with the idea of home in mind, I’d like to put jewellery and architecture, under the same roof, so to speak.

In the book “The Poetics of Space” French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard speaks about our first house as the space in which we all learn the functions of inhabiting and that this house becomes a blueprint that we carry with us throughout our lives. In our first house we learn the habits of dwelling in domestic space.  For Bachelard the habit of daydreaming is an essential function of habitation as it is through daydream that we transform the house into a home.  And it is through daydream that we return to this original home throughout our lives.  Bachelard draws a distinction between the geometric space of the house and the psychological space of the home, for Bachelard home is the shelter that allows one to dream. Bachelard calls this psychological space the oneiric house. This portable concept is carried with us creating our sense of home where ever we may find it, the original mobile home, if you like.

Inside architecture and its surrounds we nest in order to evoke our oneiric house and transform space into place. We adorn our interior spaces with objects and images to create a place that allows us to play and to dream and to feel at home. Building Blocks might refer to the architectural spaces we inhabit and also to the objects that we collect that constitute those spaces as home.  Building Blocks recalls our early childhood memories of play, the physical embodiment of daydream. Play is an essential practice in the creation of home. The building blocks in this exhibition do not adorn the inside of architecture to create home, although they could. These blocks have been designed to adorn the surface of our bodies. So once we step over the architectural threshold from inside to outside jewellery can function with talismanic power to evoke memories and dreams that embody our oneiric house. The way in which we adorn ourselves not only projects to others who we are but also carries an unutterable secret for its wearer. In this sense jewellery becomes the home we carry with us. The shelter that allows us to dream.

Jewellery and architecture share in this extreme dichotomy of inside and out but they are not alone in defining our sense of place. Design, all design, from civic to architecture, from furniture to fashion from web to jewellery and everything in between plays a role in ordering our behaviours and making sense of our world, but also in accommodating our need to dream and to play and to feel at home. Even when we are not physically there.

In this sense why can’t a building be a considered in the same way as a jewel? In the words of Jarvis Cocker

“The whole city is your jewellery-box; a million twinkling yellow street lights. 
Reach out and take what you want; you can have it all.” Jarvis Cocker - Sheffield: Sex City

Thanks to Mel Young (and Jarvis) for the above quote.


Building Blocks

JamFactory Gallery Two  23 SEPTEMBER - 27 NOVEMBER

Artists  Claire Brooks, Christian Hall, Courtney Jackson, Jessamy Pollock and Andrew Welsh