Sunday, 7 September 2014

Confessions of a Jewelry Junky: Pamela Ritchie has got the goods

Yesterday was a big day at the Craft Council Gallery.  Not only did we open The Spirit of the Caribou but Pamela Ritchie's solo show From Time and Matter.   I have followed with great interest, the work of this jewelry maestro (a?) since the mid-eighties.  I think her work in a variety of jewelry media has real authority.  She knows how to pare down without losing an ounce of content.  In fact, it ramps up the impact.  I have a weakness for high-impact art.

The show is really worth a lingering visit.  So many ideas, beautifully stated and you can wear them too!

Pam Ritchie was a pioneer when it came to using non-gems in jewelry.

I was asked to write the essay for her show both here and in Halifax where an expanded version of it will appear at the Mary Black Gallery.  Kudos go to Sharon LeRiche for bringing Pam Ritchie's work and wizardry here -right now Pam is teaching a design workshop.  Susan Lee Stephen and I had the luxury of a long evening's chat with her to feed our fetish of Canadian contemporary art jewelry.

One of the things I felt necessary to state in the brief essay was that Pamela Ritchie works in series but that those series can go on for decades.  It is the kind of thing that is obvious to me because I watch how artists work but I have become aware that there is a misconception in many people's minds about the practice of working in series.  Folks seem to think they have distinct beginnings and endings and they rarely do.  I recall saying to some one recently that there were some things that only exist in art history books.  You know the "fill-in-the-blank  period" began here and ended there.

In my limited experience, creativity rarely travels in straight lines.   History is largely a construct that serves an agenda of one kind or another.  Making sense out of art, that is writing art history, isn't any different.  But that's just my opinion.

Energy by Pamela Ritchie conveys to me her love of science.

Here's my conclusion from the exhibition essay:

Pam Ritchie feels that "communication is so important to jewelry, whether it is that of politics, romance, status or visual expression."  That communication can be direct or indirect. But regardless of that direct or indirectness Ritchie strives to tell a story and thereby "facilitate a conversation through the media of wearable objects that could amuse, provoke or empower."  Pay attention to her choice of materials, be it a postage stamp or a gem stone; think about her choice of colours with its language of emotions and reverberation.  Then you will have entered into Ritchie's thematic world of myth and science, juxtaposition and static harmony. It is a whole world you can wear on a finger or on a lapel.

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