Monday, November 5, 2012


Wrist Restriction (left): and Front and Back Views of
Cervical Collar made from Laminated Resin, Plastozote, Gold,
Plated Silver and Leather (left and right photos)
The town of Evora, located in the Portuguese province Alentejo, is a region filled with historical monuments.

Amidst the locale’s “wide plains” is the 2nd century landmark Temple of Diana as well as the Palace of Vasco da Gama.  Portugal is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Olga Noronha.

Contemporary art jewelers know how to get a rise out of someone.  Their vivid conceptualizations are arguably the most creatively intense.

They push the limits of their imaginations using any material to bring to life art pieces that stir the emotions and challenge perceptions of jewelry.

As I referenced in a prior post, I believe provocation is at the heart of contemporary art jewelry.  This jewelry niche interprets uncomfortable, hard-hitting topics in such a way that regardless of whether the design is a cuff bracelet or pendant necklace they will elicit an emotional response that corresponds with the severe visual; extreme begets extreme.

Twenty-two–year old Noronha—who developed headpieces for fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s Spring 2010 collection--gladly embraces this stylistically unpredictable design approach.  Her Conflict Rejection: Attraction Collection is the jeweler’s singular quest to make the undesirable desirable.

Antique and Disposable Syringe Needle
Earrings with Gold, Sterling Silver and Diamonds
The collection is populated with gold plated sterling silver paired with Plastozote and Orfit knee braces, cervical collars and diamond accented disposable syringe needles.  The combinations make for some of the most outlandish jewelry pieces I have seen.

“My Conflict collection is an exploration of a merger between anatomy, medicine and jewel-like objects.

I combine actual surgery tools with replicas and I transform them into jewelry pieces without dissociating them from their original function,” explains the graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin College of Art and Design.  “My intent is to turn the distasteful into the desirable; to switch the response from rejection to attraction.”

I think setting oneself apart is intrinsic to this dramatic design niche. Noronha’s jewelry is intimidating in its rather harsh, bleak depictions.  When someone decides to take a disposable syringe needle, gussy it up a bit with gold and diamonds to produce a pair of earrings that is an artistic vision firmly rooted outside the box.

“I relentlessly examine the relationship between bodies, attitudes and surroundings.  My creations are never mere ornaments but are art pieces that celebrate the marriage of sturdy mechanics and delicate anatomies.
Copper, Crystal and Enamel
Incarcerated Bodies  Piece

I do not want people to be apathetic towards my work whatever the reaction—good or bad.  I welcome doubts for they may lead to surprise.”
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