March 5- 18, 2013
Y Art and Framing Gallery, Taylor Street, Woodbrook
Set in the white walled and glass windowed exhibition space, the glass encased baubles and their siblings hung from the stark walls could easily pass for exquisite ornaments strategically placed all around the gallery. On Sunday May 5 the Y Art and Framing Gallery hosted an exhibition entitled JewelBox which featured the work of local contemporary artist Ashraph and traditional jewellery designers Jasmine Thomas-Girvan, Rachel Ross, Jade Drakes, Sarah May Marshall Knight and Janice Derrick. With such a potent line up of creative dynamite it was no wonder the turnout was exceptional with a combination of art enthusiasts and artistic powerhouses like Peter Minshall, Meiling and Fitzroy Hoyte to name a few. Tameika Fletcher-Birmingham, the Creative Director of Eat Craft Play and an accomplished jewellery designer in her right was my companion for the afternoon. By the time we arrived the show room was already buzzing and quite a few red dots had made their way to displays, indicating purchase.
As we strutted in the door, a detailed necklace of small silver pipes caught Tameika’s attention. We did a double take and were not surprised that the delicate workmanship was that of Jamaican, Jasmine Thomas-Girvan who attended the Parsons School of Design in New York, where she received a BFA in Jewellery and Textile Design. Whilst at Parson’s Jasmine was awarded the Tiffany Honour Award for Excellence. Later she received a Prime Minister’s Certificate of Recognition for Excellence in Jamaica, and in 1996 she was the recipient of a Commonwealth Foundation Arts award. Jasmine has also made a number of public commissions, one of which was presented to the Queen of England. Jasmine’s handiwork work could also be seen adorning the walls as decorative show pieces. These decorative sculptures were classic Jasmine and constructed out of a combination of items found in nature and precious metals.
Janice Derrick’s prowess in bending and shaping metal also made her pieces quite distinct as they were crafted and moulded into beautifully delicate shapes of silver and gold chains and earrings. Ashraph’s collection of statement rings could not be ignored. White calabashes with wooden statue heads that were made by Ashraph to act as props for his display could easily hold their own in any sculpture exhibition. These quirky sculptures are signature Ashraph and they became a talking point to compliment his huge hammered aluminium rings reminiscent of steel pans. The large flat metal show stoppers sat sleekly on bases of ebony wood and silver. Another piece by the artist featured miniature blue horns that sprouted out of the base of the ring and instantly brought back memories of Jouvert with its ode to Jab Jab mas.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the work of Jade Drakes is just as quirky and intriguing as its maker. Jade was dressed in a crisp shirt with patterned bowtie, tucked into a resplendent gold skirt and topped off with a tailored blazer adorned with a large, roughly crafted gold brooch in the shape of a dog’s head. As an admirer of her personal style I attended the exhibition upon her invitation knowing that she would impress and impress she did. Her ability to tell a story through her work is unique as reflected in her exhibition largely made up of chunky crudely made silver rings accented with detailed miniature people on top, some with wings. The juxtaposition of rough and refined oddly works and is truly eye-catching. The collection is entitled ‘My People’ and the inspiration came while the artist was abroad in Germany. “I found myself struggling to find a way back home. Feeling trapped, and lacking all the comforts and tools I was accustomed to, I was looking around for any handle to artistically grab. I used the surroundings and predominate resources that were readily available to me and began to make this body of work. There was something romantic about wings, something that spoke to freedom and eventually reminded me of home,” says Jade.
Jade Drakes has a fondness for all things craft and animal, especially the dog and this is sometime reflected in her pieces. She was born in Venezuela of Trinidadian and Italian parentage and moved to Trinidad at a very young age. In her early 20’s, she set off to America to study Metalsmithing and Theatre at Slippery Rock University, where she learned to work with animal horn and bone under Professor Robert J. Bruya – ‘The Road Kill King’. She went on to study Bench Jewellery and Stone Setting at North Benet Street School. She then went off to her father’s homeland to improve on her stone setting skills but instead found herself charmed by Alchimia, a contemporary jewellery school in Florence. Jade draws her inspiration from nature, old shops that sell old things, old ladies, old men, museums, books – especially children books, female contemporary artists, insects and conversation. She has a shop in Port-of-Spain called Duck Girl, where she sells her works and continues to create labours of love.
‘My people’ by Jade Drakes, Photos courtesy www.jadedrakes.com