The art of adornment

‘Seven’ Ring No. 3, 18ct gold, hand-quilting cotton thread, Ciara Bláth Stapleton

‘Seven’ Ring No. 3, 18ct gold, hand-quilting cotton thread, Ciara Bláth Stapleton


October 12 2014

My interest in art jewellery probably stems from my first visit to SOFA Chicago a number of years ago. In addition to many international names, I was also introduced to the work of Irish makers such as Angela O’Kelly and Inga Reed. Over the years I have been fortune enough to work on exhibitions such as dubh: dialogues in black which not only showcased work by Seliena Coyle and Eily O’Connell but also brought the work of US makers such as Suzanne Beautyman and Sondra Sherman to Ireland.

While our knowledge and understanding of craft increases in Ireland, it seems that, sadly, art jewellery is still outside of the realm of the vast majority. A 2013 article by Olivia Shih in art jewelry forum, on the expansion of the international contemporary art jewellery scene, suggests that ‘the combination of art and jewelry befuddles many consumers and brings up a slew of questions beyond “What is it?” The fine jewelry lover asks. “So, can I wear it?” The art collector asks. “Is it worth my investment?”’

I had the opportunity recently to work briefly with young jewellery designer maker Ciara Bláth Stapleton. A graduate of Glasgow School of Art in 2014, her work was exhibited at New Designers in London and can be seen shortly at Entwined Memories with the Design & Crafts Council Ireland in Dublin. Her pieces, which evoke memory and understanding, are at the same time fragile and fearless, simple and complex but, most of all, unforgettable. I’d like to think that, in the international art jewellery sphere, this is a name to watch out for in the future.


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Frances McDonald