Monday, January 25, 2010

BEVERLEY PRICE

When we enter South Africa's Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden, we are met with the spectacular Witpoortjie Falls. It is a lovely area with over 600 species of flora, and different habitats. South Africa is also the home of featured jewelry designer Beverley Price.

According to historians, intricate jewelry items fashioned from a variety of materials have been a fixture within African culture for thousands of years, predating jewelry on other continents.

Items made from egg shells, stone, glass, bronze and gold reflect the superlative skills of artisans of the Yoruba, Tuareg and Dogon groups.

Price's jewelry celebrates the complex artistry of African jewelry through items consisting of both traditional and unconventional materials including gold, safety pins, and aluminum foil.

In doing this, Price's jewelry also acts as a gentle provocation that addresses the question of what makes jewelry precious, the materials, or the designer's creative use of them.

"Some years ago I set a goal for my work: I wanted to make a form of jewelry that conveys value without using precious minerals like diamonds," she says. "My particular interest is to stimulate the development of a hybrid of jewelry fusing indigenous South African adornment with conventional Western jewelry."

Highly accomplished, Price trained and practiced as a speech therapist in her homeland, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Price's interest in creating jewelry began after she attended a lecture at Israel's Bezalel Art School.

From there her eagerness to learn more led to studies at the Jerusalem Technical Institute, London's Guildhall University, and Johannesburg's University of Witwatersrand. She earned an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts, a Master-Class in Silversmithing, and a Master-Class in Enameling.

With such a diverse artistic background, Price's jewelry pieces range from a chainmail-like collar necklace, a bulky, gold tubular necklace and a bracelet cuff made of brightly colored feathers and aluminum.

Paying homage to post-apartheid South Africa and Mexican culture, Price links frames of 1950s Pop Art and Frida Kahlo's self-portrait, framed in aluminum, creating bracelets and necklaces.

"I began developing the idea of using foil to frame images due to my interest in creating jewelry that conveys value without precious materials. My intention was to make a story around the neck like a silent movie."

In addition to awards and exhibitions, Price is helping to empower other South African women by training and working alongside them in her workshop.

Her unique work has been featured in such publications as Craft South Africa, and Contemporary Jewelry Design in South Africa.
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Photo 1 (top right): Mixed Media Bracelet Including Feathers and Aluminum
Photo 2 (bottom left): Mixed Media Collar Necklace
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