Tour fashions taste for jewellery design

26th September 2003 at 01:00
JACK CUNNINGHAM: Brooching the Subject. The Travelling Gallery. until December 19, including Glasgow School of Art, November 24-28. tel 0131 529 39303682.

Scotland's Travelling Gallery has taken to the road again with a solo exhibition of the work of Scottish jeweller Jack Cunningham entitled Brooching the Subject.

Cunningham, who is head of jewellery and silversmithing at the Glasgow School of Art, specialises in one-off brooches. He uses precious metals and gemstones - as well as more unusual materials - to tell a story.

His large "narrative" brooches, which can be worn by men and women, are mini works of art that reflect places he has visited and things he has seen.

One brooch in his Fruits of the Forest series, called "Kelvingrove", is based on his memories of playing in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow, as a child.

It features nuggets of polished emerald, agate and tourmaline and a gold-plated sycamore seed displayed in a leaf-shaped cage of silver wire.

Other brooches incorporate tiny shells, pebbles and pieces of seaweed.

The Travelling Gallery's show features not only 20 of his most recent creations but also a display of his source material, including slides from a trip to Japan and his sketch books, and an excellent CD-Rom of Cunningham talking about his life and work. (He features as a case study of contemporary designers in the support material for the art and design Higher Still course).

Every visitor to the exhibition receives an illustrated mini book and, for schools, there are worksheets designed for primary and secondary pupils.

Pupils from Arden Primary in Glasgow saw Brooching the Subject recently when the Travelling Gallery bus was parked within walking distance of the school.

Headteacher Teresa Mooney said that although the visit by P4s-P7s was arranged at very short notice, she didn't want the children to miss out on a creative experience on their doorstep.

"It's good for them to see an adult performing at a very high level of skill," said Miss Mooney, who is on the Glasgow primary schools' advisory group for museum education.

"I like to get the children out to museums and galleries whenever possible, even if the visit isn't linked to anything we're doing in the curriculum.

"All the children enjoyed the exhibition and the talk, particularly some of the P7 boys, which shows that it is not just girls who are interested in jewellery.

"The wee booklet they got will be a good memento of the visit."

Colin McLeish, principal teacher of art at Baltasound Junior High on Unst, was planning to take his S2 pupils to the exhibition when the Travelling Gallery went to Shetland this week.

"This is the gallery's fourth visit," he said, "and we really appreciate it because, being the most northerly of the islands, we don't see exhibitions.

"We've enjoyed every one of their shows and we always get a workshop as well, which we use as a starting point for a project that will involve pupils in all the art classes.

"During a previous Travelling Gallery workshop, the kids made shoes and that evolved into a school fashion show.

"We haven't done any jewellery work yet, so it will be really interesting to see what comes from this visit," he added.

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