Rooted in the past, yet looking at the contemporary, the futuristic and even the surreal, Abhushan - World Crafts Council's international jewellery summit to be held in New Delhi in February 2011 – looks at the common threads that bind various jewellery forms together..

“Weaving harmonies divine, yet ever new” is a poetic, if apt, description of the World Crafts Council's “Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery”, an international jewellery summit to be held in New Delhi in February 2011; an ode to jewellery, the one craft that binds men and women across continents in a language of creativity and harmony, a tribute to a 5000-year-old tradition that remains “ever new”, as it explores changing environments, mediums and tastes; rooted in the past, yet looking at the contemporary, the abstract, the futuristic and even the surreal.

At “Abhushan”, scholars, artisans, artists, designers and students from Africa, North America, Latin America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region (WCC's five regions) will study the diversity, symbolism and aesthetics of forms of jewellery through the prism of scholarship, process, techniques and tools and, above all, through the perceptions of the craftsperson himself. Through seminars, workshops, exhibitions and more, ‘Abhushan' will study, present and create jewellery not as mere ornament alone but as an aspirational symbol of the human experience crafted out of precious stone, paper, beads, stones, sticks, thread, wire, mud and more. Although a creative dialogue on alternative jewellery, ‘Abhushan” will showcase fabled Indian jewellery forms too …

“We hope the summit will stimulate thinking about the challenges of designing for the future and artisans will evolve design that is reflective, socially, conscious and economically viable,” says Usha Krishna, President, World Crafts Council.

Contemporary masterpieces

Does jewellery as a craft form really transcend cultures? Does a common thread bind various jewellery forms together? Ursula Ilse Newman, Curator of Jewellery, Museum of Arts and Design, New York who is bringing the best of contemporary American jewellery to Abhushan's Curated Exhibition of New Age Masterpieces has this to say: “In the Western world, art jewellery has taken on many characteristics that are found in contemporary art in general. Contemporary jewellery artists look to the past as well as the future and often reinvent traditional forms and practices... The artistic idea is primary... The common thread is that all the works on view (at the Curated Exhibition) relate to body ornament even if the work is barely (or not at all) wearable. There are of course different value systems and messages that distinguish body adornment from various continents”

Akwela Suma Glory, a bead jeweller from Ghana, is among a panel of resource persons at the “Abhushan Craft Exchange Programme” who will work with 60 Indian craftspersons and conduct interactive workshops. in natural fibre, recycled materials, paper, palm leaf grass, beads and jewellery crafted from silver wire, beads and stones. Glory works with beads to create jewellery with a timeless aesthetic, featuring natural forms combined with delicate textures and highly nuanced sculptural elements. Her jewellery is a close collaboration between man and nature. “The creations are meant to be worn, touched and thoroughly enjoyed,” she says.

India's Malini Agarwala, Sushmita Gupta and Brinda Roongta use the skills of traditional jadau karigars to create jewellery in the contemporary context with the use of beads, threadwork and semi-precious stones. “We reinvent heritage jewellery to make it more contemporary, more wearable,” says Agarwala.

Other voices and views will be heard at “Design Dialogues in Jewellery”. There will be a three-day seminar with 20 eminent international and Indian speakers covering tribal traditional and extemporary jewellery. The “Craft Exchange Programme” (January 28-February 6) and workshops will focus on traditional and artistic jewellery fashioned in today's contemporary language. Traditional and non-traditional materials like natural fibre, recycled material, beads, thread and paper will be used to create jewellery statements.

Feast for the eyes

A slew of exhibitions will offer a magnificent feast. There will be a “Curated Exhibition” of jewellery masterpieces created in the modern idiom and through ‘alternative' natural materials by leading artisans. Internationally known curators such as Paola Manfredi, Dr. Martina Dempf, Ursula Neuman and others bring modern masterpieces of contemporary European, African, Latin America, North American and Indian jewellery using mediums like sterling silver, copper wire, beads, stone, twisted wire, lace, painting and embroidery. Neckpieces, necklaces, brooches, armbands explode with a master artisan's touch in fashioning creative excitement with paper, plastic, anodized aluminium, turquoise, coral ebony etc. And there is more.

The ‘Abhushan Craft Bazaar' will showcase the innovative work of Indian National Awardees and outstanding international designers ranging from traditional tribal to contemporary jewellery formats crafted out of fibre, metal thread, terracotta, wood and recycled material.

The Abhushan Design Gallery will display and promote the work of both the leading and young designers from India working with natural eco-friendly materials such as fibre, wood, beads, gemstones with focus on innovation design that breaks through conventional boundaries.

A dazzling show is on hand for connoisseurs of India's conventional classic jewellery at “Abhushan Fine Jewellery Fiesta,” a retail avenue displaying the work of some of the great names in the field. This will be a treasure trove of heirloom pieces as well as traditional jadau, gold, silver and precious stone pieces. The ‘Abhushan Jewel Box' will sell masterpieces of classic crafts and design and iconic Mughal and South India's temple jewellery.

And finally, the Abhushan Journal, a coffee table glossy will tell the story of “Abhushan: Design Dialogues in Jewellery”. For it is a tale that must be told.

The Jewellery Summit will be on at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi, from February 4-6, 2011. For more info, visit www.worldcraftscouncil.org

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