THE EXPERIMENTAL AGE

THE EXPERIMENTAL AGE

Jewellery for the Modern Age

“When I started in the mid-to-late 1950s, there were very few new things being made in jewellery…Innovation just hadn’t happened for 20 years, partly because of the war, so in design terms one could do anything at all. It was a completely open book” - John Donald

In a decade of revolution, from the Civil Rights Movement to the first man to step on the moon, to the hippie movement, fashion followed suit - notably Pierre Cardin’s 1964 Space Age collection and Paco Rabanne’s science-fiction trends. Cosmic themes were more literal in high street fashion (shooting stars, planets and rocket motifs) - reflecting the new glamour of figures such as Jackie Kennedy, psychedelic fashion and the new Atomic space age.

 

AMETHYST SET BROOCH, BY JOHN DONALD, 1963
AN AMETHYST SET BROOCH, BY JOHN DONALD, 1963

The cultural revolution in British taste did not escape the young budding makers of the 1960s: a whole generation of new jewellers, most living on hand-to-mouth existences in small studios cum living spaces, all epitomes of the counter-culture revolution and reactionaries to the status quo. These ‘artist jewellers’ were imbued with a freedom to pursue themes through diverse new forms in design not influenced by the past, dispensing with tradition motifs for abstract often asymmetrical and geometric designs, using unusual colours.

 

GOLD, ROSE QUARTZ AND DIAMOND SET PENDANT, BY GILIAN PACKARD, 1968
A GOLD, ROSE QUARTZ AND DIAMOND SET PENDANT, BY GILIAN PACKARD, 1968

 The flaming star (John Donald’s brooch) and comet (Gilian Packard pendant) were appropriately popular motifs during this ‘Space Race’ period and perfectly fitted the notions of how these jewellers were trying to represent a Modern Age. Most importantly the work of this period showed what could be done with jewellery, and how it could be visionary - transcending from commerce into an art form relevant to contemporary society, that allowed it to be exhibited alongside work of the most avant-garde artists of their day.

 


 

STARDUST

The Art of British Jewellery in the 1960s

Until Wednesday 18 December 2019

Weekdays 10.30am to 5pm

LOCATION | 22 Connaught St, London, W2 2AF 

CONTACT | Kate Flitcroft | 0207 930 9115 | london@lyonandturnbull.com

 

Recent Articles