Materiality of place : an investigation into the makers approach to material and process as a reflection of place within Northern European contemporary jewellery practice
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This practice-led research project takes the form of a written thesis, a body of new work and a public exhibition, which are designed to be reciprocally illuminating. Collectively they articulate a response to the central question; „How do contemporary jewellery makers transfer the sensory experience of place into a tangible object?‟ Fundamental to this enquiry is „The Topophilia Project‟ - a creative participatory research method where the resulting artefacts serve both as data and represent data. This project involved a group of 16 contemporary makers creating new work to brief for an exhibition entitled „A Sense of Place; New Jewellery from Northern Lands‟. The exhibition was held in the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh from May to September 2012 and formed the primary vehicle with which to both present and explore research into the contemporary jewellery of Northern Europe. The new artifacts and first person accounts produced as a result of this research method enabled an investigation into the maker‟s approach to material and process. These highly valuable resources allowed for a reading and deciphering of the methods used by the artists when gathering information from their surrounding environments. Multifaceted methods of practice are distilled within the project outcomes allowing for a broadened terminology to unfold in reference to these practices. This Northern study, rooted in phenomenological understanding and investigated through the creative process, contributes knowledge to the field from an alternative perspective to the dominant position of Central European jewellery output. As a geographically focused inquiry it also adds a necessary alternative outlook to studies focusing on multi-cultural migration. The resulting body of research outlines an arena of practice and theory in which the work of these makers can be debated, analysed, and criticised within the broader field, contributing to the cross-disciplinary discourse on contemporary theories of place of benefit to those interested in the significance of environmental influence on the creative process.