David Watkins: Encounters

11 November - 24 December 2003

This exhibition brings together more than sixty pieces of jewellery as well as drawings and photographs by David Watkins, one of the leading artists working in the field of jewellery design. Born in 1940, he trained as a sculptor and has been producing jewellery since the mid-1960s. He has been Professor and Head of Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery at the Royal College of Art since 1984, and his work has been exhibited internationally, worn by individuals and collected by museums for the last thirty years.

David Watkins draws upon a variety of influences ranging from travel to music and film. His own discipline as a sculptor pervades his thinking, and his time spent as a jazz musician provides a framework within which he improvises. His early experience as a model maker of exacting detail on science fiction films, primarily Stanley Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey', has become intertwined with his interest in ethnography and body adornment.

Although early examples of David Watkins' work are also on display, the exhibition concentrates on more recent work made between 1993 and 2003. Earlier pieces were created using silver and gold, plastic paper, steel and titanium, often coloured as well as being machined and hand finished. The coloured gold wheel pins of the mid-1990s are typical of Watkins' recent work, where and exact and formal structure appears scattered with unexpected detail, often gold leaves. The most recent work continues his concentration on steel and plastic worked with new and advanced technologies, where strong geometric shapes are modulated through colour to transform them into dramatic pieces of jewellery.

Watkins' work is the combination of a uniquely personal style and a progressive approach which challenges the concept of traditional jewellery. Many of his pieces have a double life: they can be enjoyed as independent objects but their function and form is that of jewellery to be worn. Such jewellery, being both theatrical and restrained, has the capacity to excite the audience and enhance the presence of the individual who wears it.

This exhibition contains 83 pieces, a combination of neckpieces, bracelets and pins. Many items are available for purchase.

Image - © David Watkins

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