I am not a contest freak. I only take part in competitions when they are not only challenging but also interesting to me and not far away from my artistic path. Designing something just to take part in one competition or another, then spending hours on making the piece, it all seems a huge waste of time to me. However, sometimes it happens that there is a competition with a theme so inspiring that I cannot help the urge to sit down and start working.
It seems I did fall for a competition theme a few weeks ago. When I saw the title “Our Polish Independence” I knew I had to come up with something. Actually, I knew I WOULD come up with something. And in fact, I have. I have come up with a necklace named “History Lesson”, the first piece in my life inspired by history. Making this piece was quite an experience, as my inspirations so far had been quite different.
Now I possibly should say how much effort and pain it has cost me to create the competition piece. The theme is kind of heavy, and translating it into the language of wearable (and very contemporary) jewelry doesn’t seem to be that easy. Well, the thing is, I am not going to say anything like that. The first stage of the project went by pretty much effortlessly, I was having great time looking for associations and connections. Later, when I got to thinking about the form, things became a little bit more complicated, but that part of the process didn’t hurt too much either. On the contrary, I was truly amusing myself designing graphical codes for certain historic events. And the fact that I had to dust the shelf with historic stuff in my head (I also threw a few new items there, by the way) has only added to the value of the project.
How has the “History Lesson” come about
On the content side is what I think ‘independence’ is. To me it is not about any particular events nor dates, it is not even about a process. In my eyes independence is an idea, so important and great that over the years it made so many people sacrifice so much, including their lives. Any efforts toward winning independence can possibly be judged in many different ways, especially if the judging takes place many years later, but the idea and the goal themselves should not be disputed at all. That’s my personal opinion, of course. Anyway, in my piece I decided to represent the idea by presenting some historic events that it had induced.
On the form side, I wanted to stick to my artistic code. My piece has to be clean, modern, as minimalistic as possible. Next to that, the piece’s message should be clear (more or less, that is. Depends on who is looking) but not intrusive. It should be symbolic but not too obvious. Elegant and sophisticated, so that it actually can be worn (and not only on the Independence Day). Not shocking, but then not too modest either. Stern, but a bit provoking at the same time. It should be possible to say more about the piece than just ‘It’s pretty’ (or that it’s not, actually). It should be making people want to touch it. It should look good not only around someone’s neck but also on a shelf (a nice stand required) or even on the wall (that means it has to be rather big).
When I got that far in my thinking the general idea of the necklace was ready. I started to work out the details of individual elements, and also to create the ones I had already designed. I had to change the concepts for a few beads while I was working but in general the character of the finished piece turned out exactly as I wanted it to be. I am really happy with this necklace, I must say. I think it’s one of my best pieces, actually. And I am especially happy with the fact that I managed to present quite a bit of the history of Poland in one piece of very modern and abstract jewelry.
so, what exactly does all that mean?
There are 14 embellished beads in the piece, each of them being a symbol of an event, or a period, in the history of Poland. All of them have to do with struggles on Poland’s way to independence between the years 1791 and 1989.
So, the ideology is now all clear but I can imagine that still not everybody will be able to understand the meaning of all the elements. One of the reasons is the fact that instead of using popular symbols I decided to create my own codes. Another reason is quite obvious, not many people (except for the Poles) learn about the history of Poland. You will find all the explanations below and I hope you will find them interesting.