Ann O'Donnell modernist jeweller

Norton, Frances and Broadhead, Samantha (2017) Ann O'Donnell modernist jeweller. [Show/Exhibition]

Abstract

The output is a curatorial project exhibiting the work of Ann O’Donnell (1933 – 2019), a jewellery artist-maker from the North of England. The project was a collaboration between Broadhead and Norton. Both contributors were equal originators of the work, taking joint responsibility for the project design, research findings and dissemination. Research Process: Interviews were undertaken with O’Donnell in her workshop and with her archive of jewellery-related materials. Additional interviews were undertaken with O’Donnell and her pieces of jewellery. A transcript was made from this material, which was the basis for constructing a film that captured O’Donnell’s significance to the jewellery-making world. This was developed into a rationale for selecting works for a jewellery exhibition. This showed O’Donnell’s working methods, research notebooks and jewellery illustrations. Work was arranged in themes that referred to O’Donnell’s interests rather than chronologically. Research Insights: O’Donnell was found to be an artist-maker of international significance through achieving international awards, establishing a retail and gallery for ‘the new jewellery’ and showcasing international artist-makers. Her own work came from her art school background and was about the materiality of gold, silver, stones, fossils and ancient artefacts. Both narrative and formalist concerns can be seen in her work. Her position as a woman artist-maker in the 1960s and 1970s often meant that she was positioned through women’s magazines within a domestic space, rather than a professional one. This exhibition revealed the breadth and depth of her creative outputs. It also drew attention to an artist-maker with an international profile who was not based in London. Dissemination: The curatorial project was exhibited at the Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University between 11 May and 27 July 2017. The show was also screened on Made in Leeds.

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