Suzy Dunford-Gent’s practice is concerned with the relationship between architecture and textiles, from their primal function of protecting the body, to their cultural significance as expressions of human ideals and drives.
As a contemporary jeweller, the traditional definition of jewellery can often seem inadequate, describing jewellery as an ‘ornament’ made from precious materials excludes functions and limits form. This classification of jewellery assigns jewellery to a purely aesthetic function, however jewellery has always been of both strong social and individual significance as well as practical function, for example, throughout the centuries personal seals, in the form of rings and pendants, have served the vital function of authenticating important documents. It is this functional aspect of jewellery, be it practical, social or spiritual, that has always fascinated me.
Two other defining obsessions in both my life and my creative practice are architecture and nature, and in particular, the relationship between the two. There is a strong historical precedent of jewellery as architecture, both in stylistic influences, as well the function of a container. Jewellery items, such as amulets, lockets, reliquaries, and poison rings, act as the containers of both the tangible (and corporeal: human hair, ash, bone, handwriting, clothing, blood, teeth, poison) and the intangible (love, protection, god, power of a saint). Many such objects are modelled on architectural motifs, perhaps in an attempt to take on some of the authoritative power of the house as a symbol of protection.
Because we use architecture to contain and define space, architecture itself becomes a symbol of contained space and therefore why we project these images back onto the containers we create. The architectural symbol of the container transcends time, however, through capturing the specificities of a time and place in the architectural imagery used, these objects also act as temporal anchor points. It is partially this materiality of time and place that I hope to capture in my work.’