Creative Forms -
SHAPE MAGAZINE 1/06
And you thought only gold and silver were used to make jewellery. Well, think again. One of the hottest materials in designer circles is – aluminium.
Louise Nippierd is one of Norway’s, and perhaps Europe’s, most interesting jewellery artists today. Artistic expression is part of the explanation, and choosing aluminium as the material is another. “When I understood what could be accomplished with aluminium, the possibilities literally flowed over me. I saw all possible colours and shapes before my eyes. Aluminium is also an environmentally friendly material, 100 percent recyclable, and that also appealed to me,” says Nippierd. Her highly imaginative jewellery, created in a special process with sulphuric acid and dye baths, is like nothing you will find in a conventional jewellery shop. Instead of traditional jewellery designs, Nippierd creates body sculpture with names like “Delightful Deliverance” and “Hungry Heart”. They look like gigantic, shiny metal rings connected to each other from the neck to the navel. And when she creates finger rings, they are designed as exploding aluminium darts that look more like a Ninja throwing star than something you might want to give on Valentine’s Day.
Nippierd’s body sculpture may be regarded as a statement in the public debate on body fixation and the image of ideal beauty projected by fashion magazines. The jewellery covers the female body like armour or shields – with spikes pointing inward, as if in protest against anorexia, or outward, as if to protect. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman who hasn’t dieted,” she says.
IN THE EARLY 1990'S, when Nippierd attended the National College of Art and Design in Oslo, her intention was born to work with large, almost turgid jewellery. But the choice of a more traditional metal never occurred to her. “I think gold and silver are dreadful. The only metal I came in contact with was aluminium, it appealed to my heart. It’s a fascinating material that I can bend with my fingers. And it smells great.” What attracted Nippierd most, however, and many other artists who work in aluminium today, was the possibility to colour the metal through anodising.
The method also attracted Bess Kristoffersen, one of Denmark’s most successful designers. “Given my a background in textile art, it’s fantastic to discover that you can actually make paint stick to aluminium. The process requires a great deal of patience, but the rewards are tremendous,” she says. Kristoffersen recently designed a telephone for Bang & Olufsen, BeoCom 2, by engraving aluminium in different directions, creating a glimmering pattern that changes character depending on the light. The telephone is available in a limited quantity and sold exclusively in the United States.
And if you thought large sculptures were cast only in stone, bronze and iron, take a closer look at the aluminium sculptures cast in sand moulds by Norwegian artist Geir Hjetland. “I want to work on the edge of what is possible in purely technical terms,” says Hjetland, about his several meter-high sculptures. In his private life, Hjetland also has a history in the material. “My entire family worked at the aluminium plant in Høyanger, so I literally have aluminium in my blood.”
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