Thursday, August 6, 2009

MONA WALLSTROM

Today we visit another award-winning botanical garden located in Gothenburg, Sweden; its name, Gothenburg Botanical Garden.

Over 16,000 species of flora, including orchids and magnolias, cover the 430-acre grounds, as well as a sprawling rock garden, and a traditional Japanese garden. Sweden is also the home of featured jewelry designer Mona Wallström.

I think this statement from the artist best articulates her design approach.

"A memory is by disposition disordered; taken from its place in time, and put in another context, once again interacting in our lives."

Similar to Iris Eichenberg, Wallström's contemporary jewelry centers on intangibles such as reflections on her grandmother, and reaching midlife.

I had written in my post for Eichenberg that life's scope inevitably spills into a designer's jewelry. Eichenberg's jewelry is a physical representation of her thoughts and feelings about the experiences of 19th century U.S. immigrants.

As with Eichenberg, I am intrigued by Wallström's abstract designer jewelry where physical items are representations of ideas and feelings that are not necessarily connected with a more conventional design idea.

Wallström offers a title, and some information on the motivation behind a design; but she leaves the piece's true essence undisclosed. I like that she challenges an observer, allowing them to attribute their ideas to a piece thereby extracting memories from their lives.

Wallström took the concept of illustrating "a real life situation" to a greater level when she participated in a 10-month "creative process" project that involved workers at a Swedish governmental housing company.

The project involved gathering daily information on the activities of cleaners, caretakers, gardeners, and administrators. Wallström gathered information with cork notice boards, diagrams, and "crossing tracks" on the ground; she then took the information creating computer images and molds thus transforming tangible, physical activity into abstracts.

In 1985, Wallström received a Masters of Art degree from Gothenburg University's School of Design and Craft; and 10 years later accepted a position as one of the school's professors.
During her tenure there, through 2002 and beyond, she took part in solo exhibitions in Iceland, England, Germany, Japan, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Ilias Lalaounis' magnificent jewelry museum in Athens, Greece.

She implements all types of material into her creations including thick twine, porcelain, oxidized silver, and other unnamed items. There is an unmistakable whimsy and humor to her creations such as her Protect Me From Good Advice arm pieces from her Midlife Report Collection, which resemble arm pieces made during medieval times.

Her 20 Very Important Things to Remember, from the same collection, appears to be a humorous take on tying a string on the finger for memory lapses. Wallström created ankle pieces made with thick, red twine and multiple, clover-like structures linked along the length of the rope.

The unusual brooches from her Evidence Collection explore the mystery of forgotten and unidentifiable items placed in pockets. She explains the concept, "Evidence can be marks from a substance unknown or objects taken from a totally different environment and dropped somewhere else," she says, "In my pockets I have evidence of something that has happened. These strange objects were taken out of their context and found--by me--in another place."

The porcelain items that compose her Ode to F. Collection (paying homage to her grandmother) are equally whimsical and non-specific, made with undisclosed yet familiar objects that interweave her grandmother's practical tendencies.

Wallström's Plywood Palace Collection, however, displays her fascination with the material's capacity to add visual interest to a piece due to its "crossing fibers."

"The stripes on the edges in the material affect the visual expression. Stripes are a wonderful possibility and the easiest way to make a pattern."

Again, as with Eichenberg, I like Wallström's boldness to go against convention. Without a doubt, she truly makes jewelry her own.
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Photo 1 (top right): Porcelain Democracy Necklace with Oxidized Silver Chains from Ode to F. Collection
Photo 2 (center): The Lid Brooch from the Evidence Collection

Photo 3 (bottom right): Good Luck Plywood and Silk Necklace from Plywood Palace Collection
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