/ Round Table Group Conversations:
How to Present Contemporary Art Jewellery to Engage and Broaden Audiences
/ Round Table #1: Screens for Jewellery, 26.01.2017, galerie beyond, Antwerp (BE)
Round Table #2: Platforms for Jewellery, 23.04.2017, galerie beyond, Antwerp (BE)
Round Table #3: Jewellery Interactions, 18.11.2017, San Serriffe, Amsterdam (NL)
/ Spring 2018, 2018 interview in findings magazine
The ‘Round Table’ events are organised by galerie beyond (Karin De Buysere and René Darmont, Antwerp, BE) and Anneleen Swillen (artist, currently working on a PhD at the University of Hasselt and PXL-MAD, School of Arts, Hasselt, BE). Through the following conversation, Karin and Anneleen reflect on previous and upcoming ‘Round Table’ discussions
The idea to organise these group discussions originated within the context of a project that I was working on for Beyond Fashion 3m2 Project Room (located at the previous address of galerie beyond) in the Winter of 2016. Rather than having an opening reception, which would have taken place outside on the street since the Project Room is located in a show window, we found a different format, one through which we could have a more in-depth conversation about my project’s content. Only a few weeks after we discussed this idea, our first ‘Round
Table’, entitled Screens for Jewellery, took place. During this event we discussed various screens for jewellery
presentations, from window displays to online media.
A few months later we organised two more discussions. One was about platforms, the other one had interactions
as its central theme.
For each conversation we have focused on a theme linked to ‘presentation’. This is relevant for my current PhD research in the arts, and also for you, galerie beyond, as your role includes supporting the field and spreading awareness.
Through these ‘Round Tables’ I aim to create an opportunity, both a physical and mental space, to get together with a mixed group of people and reflect on art jewellery and objects related various topics.
Karin, what are your aims for the ‘Round Tables’? Why do you, as a contemporary art jewellery and objects gallery, find it important to co-organise and host these talks?
The ‘Round Tables’ give us an opportunity to introduce people to contemporary art jewellery and to take on an educational role in the field. For the gallery it provides a more focused discussion about contemporary art jewellery which helps to spread awareness of what we do and what art jewellery is at its core. It’s important
for a gallery to provide an opportunity for its customers to become more familiar with the methods and concepts
behind the work. Such discussions are rarely organised by other institutions, so running them ourselves provides the opportunity for makers and art jewellery lovers to interact with each other. It breaks down the hierarchical division of maker/consumer and creates a more even playing field where ideas can be shared and roles are equal.
Anneleen: Furthermore, our collaboration provides practical as well as conceptual contributions to the ‘Round
Tables’ as a project. From having a physical place for our get-togethers, starting from a certain customer base and related communication strategies, to providing ideas, giving different perspectives and reflecting on content
Karin: Yes, the format of the ‘Round Tables’ is interesting because of the immediate contact between artist and art lover. The feedback and discussions from the events act as triggers for the participating artists to further develop their ideas and work. And afterwards you, as seen from your perspective as an artist, collect the most interesting quotes and questions in a report. This report, which is a form of documentation as well as an artistic interpretation, is then shared online through our Facebook page1 and website2, as well as shown in the Project Room.
Anneleen: The thoughts and concerns that are expressed during these discussions are definitely valuable to anyone who is currently active in the field of contemporary jewellery, and beyond. I think it is important to make them accessible in order to trigger more reflection and bring together more views on the discussed topics.
What did you learn from past ‘Round Table’ events?
Have you used something that was discussed during the talks in your approach to running galerie beyond?
Karin: It was interesting to see that the majority of participants were makers themselves. It became apparent
that the field in which we work is understood vaguely by outsiders, and that even within the field, many artists
have different goals. I learned that it is up to us as a gallery to make this connection with art, and explicitly
show the work we represent as art, for the public to understand.
The art jewellery field needs more awareness of its many sub-divisions, and this form of presentation can be seen as a form of branding; how we want to present ourselves and how we want to relate ourselves to the field
of contemporary art.
Anneleen: One of our initial aims was, and still is, to reach a broad audience in order to have various, and unexpected, perspectives on the discussed themes. However, our previous ‘Round Table’ discussions mainly attracted Belgian and Dutch jewellers (which we are grateful for of course!). Our communication strategies might be too in-crowd and consequently influencing the public’s expectations. Our most recent ‘Round Table’, entitled
Jewellery Interactions, took place in bookshop San Serriffe in Amsterdam, as part of Obsessed! Jewellery in
the Netherlands, an event initiated by Current Obsession Magazine. Jewellery makers, curators, wearers, collectors and educators, as well as a few graphic designers and fine artists that did not yet know the contemporary jewellery field, took part in this conversation. This gave some interesting insights and I would like to continue in this direction. What are your aims with our future ‘Round Table’ discussions? What would you like to achieve?
Karin: The main goal for me and for the gallery is to continue to provide these horizontal opportunities to bring makers and wearers together in a discussion or encounter, connecting everyone involved in a collaborative experience and allowing space for inspiration. I believe this allows more introspectionand reflection on and for the individual, as well as for the art jewellery field in general.
Anneleen: Yes! Thank you.