Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector


From The Barbican website:

” This is the first major exhibition in the UK to present the fascinating personal collections of post-war and contemporary artists. Ranging from mass-produced memorabilia and popular collectibles to one-of-a-kind curiosities, rare artefacts and specimens, these collections provide insight into the inspirations, influences, motives and obsessions of artists.”

A collection is all about repetition. In jewellery design, repetition of a shape, colour or theme is an important element of design. A single small stone can be uninspiring – a row of the same size diamonds becomes enchanting.
Damian Hirst’s Last Kingdom, 2012 exhibits similar properties to a well made piece of jewellery. The overwhelming impression and grandeur, being presented with a wall full of insects and arachnids, is a different feeling from that when you take time to notice the detail.


A well made necklace or bracelet, or the repetition of diamonds in a halo around a centre stone presents an impressive impact. However, if the piece is not made well then an element of appreciation of the jewellery is lost under close scrutiny.
When you look closely, Last Kingdom, 2012 presents beautiful individual creatures displaying a riot of colour and textures. Stand back to take in the entire piece and the vertical arrangement of the animals allows you to appreciate the similarities of their forms, and the fact that they are all of similar families.
The same effect is achieved, for example, in the halo of diamonds surrounding a centre stone in a ring. When viewed from afar the piece is impressive with the light reflected from the diamonds. Inspect the ring closely and the level of detail paid to setting the diamonds, as well as the quality of the diamonds can be appreciated. Have a look at the detail in the ring below which I made for one of my customers.


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