2010 True Colours

2010 True Colours

NTJ 2010: True Colours – meaning ‘showing your colours’, ‘your true nature’.

Artists gave the theme a metaphorical rendering by literally giving form to one aspect of their own personality, in ways that were sometimes confronting, sometimes poetical. Other artists focussed on a social aspect; after all, society is rich in topical colour coding. Other examples of sources of inspiration are to be found in heraldry, folklore and science. True Colours also refers to dyes and pigments. For centuries, art history’s palette was determined by expensive mineralogical and biological pigments. The link between the theme ‘True Colours’ and contemporary jewellery design was obvious. From way back, the meaning and appreciation of jewellery have pre-eminently been determined by colour. From the use of gold or silver to enamel and mineralogical and biological stones: colour is a language. How rich this language is, became manifest during the seventies and eighties. The application of textiles and Perspex in jewellery led to a new idiom and use of colour; an important phase in the emancipation of contemporary jewellery design. True Colours is a distinct result of this development. The exhibition was a representative sampling of current jewellery design in which traces were to be found of the history, meanings, value, magic and power of the language of color.  The deluge of entries resulted in the most colourful (literally as well as figuratively) exhibition in many years.

Marjan Unger, art historian and publicist
Theo Smeets, University of Applied sciences – Trier dept. gemstone & jewellery design campus Idar-Oberstein
AZIZ, fashion designer/artist
Eveline Holsappel, Curator applied art and design, Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem.
Chequita Nahar, jewellery designer, Coordinator Department Jewellery & Product Design, Academie
Astrid Berens, Director SIERAAD

Jury Report

The theme for the biennial international design contest New Traditional Jewellery is True Colours. This is the fourth edition of the contest and may said to have been very successful, with more than 300 entries of jewellery designers from 33 countries.

The pieces submitted were judged by a technical jury of six persons, each with their own background – teacher, jewellery designer, academic, curator and fashion designer.

An important aspect of New Traditional Jewellery is that the participants should find their inspiration in historical and/or ethnographic jewellery. The theme selected this year has a double meaning. It is about colour, literally, but also means ‘showing your colours’ or ‘showing your true nature’. The entries were representative of this dichotomy with pieces showing an outspoken use of colour, but also with an enormous ethnic variety.

It gave the jury a splendid opportunity to get an idea of what is happening at an international level in the field of contemporary jewellery design, with jewellers coming from countries like Finland, Iraq, Australia and Chile.

After some elaborate discussions the jury has selected the five winners listed below, among whom two students. While making the selection the jury aimed at diversity in order to show the various aspects within the theme of True Colours.


The multi-coloured Urban Tribal Necklace of Amanda Caines (1961) from Great Britain fits the theme of the contest perfectly. She has taken a good look at the necklaces of coloured beads worn by the Zulus where the necklace is a means of communication and the colours stand for a code that tells something about the age group and social status of the wearer. To make her contemporary version Caines uses rejected telephone and computer wires made of plastic in bright colours – she winds wool around them, fastens vintage fabrics to them and subsequently decorates them with beads.
The necklace Link by Tove Rygg (1963) from Norway does not catch the eye because of its distinct, but rather its very subtle use of colour. During a labour-intensive process she crochets long cords of gold, silver and high-grade steel. She adds small precious stones and plaits the cords into one long chain, based on old chains of the Vikings. The various stones, haematite, smoky quartz, agate and peridote, are symbolic of the various aspects of the Norwegian landscape, such as lakes, fjords and forests. The blood agate is a personal reference to her own blood and her personal relationship with her native country Norway.

The jury was pleasantly impressed by this year’s powerful entries of the students, with surprising and original designs. The prizes for the students were awarded to

Serin Oh from Korea.

At first sight Serin Oh’s ring looks like a bronze nugget, coloured black, mounted on a classic ring. But upon closer inspection all kinds of jewellery and parts thereof can be distinguished, among which precious stones and a small angel, which have fused together. It is a reference to the costume jewellery that is sold in the shopping centres of Korea, mass-produced and no longer bearing any relationship to the history of Korea. Serin Oh pictures the confusion and identity crisis of modern Korea by fusing these trinkets to a whole.

The brooch Ode by Auk Russchen (1971) was discussed extensively by the jury and became the surprising winner. To Russchen True Colours means who you are deep inside. Showing your inside to the world. Her unusual choice of material agrees with this. Using thinly cut strips of goatskin she crochets an organic form reminiscent of intestines. The tips are of pink yarn and resemble socks.

The raw, almost grubby colour of the goatskin makes the small pink details stand out. She arrived at the colour pink after reading an article about primordial man using pink coloured fibres to decorate clothing as long as 35,000 years ago. Her brooch is an ode to her and our distant ancestors.

Penka Arabova (1980) from Bulgaria.

Penka Arabova’s green brooch was inspired by an old Bulgarian tradition where red and white cotton threads tied together are worn as pendants, brooches or bracelets. The colour red of these so-called Martenizas is symbolic of youth and the colour white for age, and wearing them brings health and happiness. For her brooch Arabova has used different colours and materials which she associates with the old tradition in her native country and in doing so created her own modern guardian against illness and misfortune.

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