Gussie van der Merwe’s artworks

Wednesday evening I attended my friend Gussie van der Merwe’s exhbition for the completion of her MA in Visual Art. The exhition was held at the US Gallery – a small historical church converted into an exhibition space dedicated to Stellebosch University.

Gussie’s work investigates the manner in which the function of jewellery (in both the wearing and owning of it) is complementary to the value, meaning and definition of jewellery.

Here is an extract of Gussie’s artists statement:

The function of jewellery can be regarded as two-fold, consisting of both a physical and social function. The physical function of a jewellery piece entails the way in which it is worn and the manner in which the piece is utilized. The social function of jewellery is not only the status or identity that the jewellery represents, but also how jewellery can symbolise and stimulate relationships.

An investigation of the physical function of jewellery is undertaken by deconstructing archetypical jewellery pieces. This illustrates what characteristics define an object as a jewellery piece and show how some archetypical jewellery pieces may appear to be seemingly universal, timeless and natural.

The social function of jewellery is investigated by considering the relational aesthetics of jewellery and thus showing how jewellery can testify and give rise to relationships. This study also sheds light on the way in which contemporary jewellery can question value systems.

A jewellery box becomes a brooch and a pair of earrings. And it houses a ring (which can be removed and worn).

Another jewellery box becomes a necklace, and it houses a pair of earrings which can be removed and worn.

Deconstructing jewellery objects - experiments with form and function.

Gussie also experimented with the social function of jewellery by creating an interactive project. She created a series of brooches that state I’ll trade this brooch for a kiss. It is up to the people around her (both familiar and unfamiliar) to respond to this request. Every kiss traded for a brooch is documented with a photograph and loaded onto a Facebook group dedicated to the project. You can view it here:

All photographs my own

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