ART CLASS : Once upon a time,
thousands of years ago...
Found in 1937, though dated more recently, the two beads discovered at the Skhul Cave in Israel, are considered the oldest pieces of jewelry created by humans. They date from at least 100,000 years ago. According to archaeologists studying the shells, the snails that produced them are from the sea, three miles away from where the beads were found. They hold an important cultural significance — the people who made them had to travel a long distance to collect them. The discovery of the beads suggests that modern human behavior (personal ornamentation, art, music, etc.) developed much earlier in human history than originally thought.
The simple act of making and stringing beads has been part of every culture in the world and continues to this day. Many contemporary artists employ this universality as conceptual inspiration for their work.
Manon van Kouswijk, a Dutch artist living and working in Australia, has always been interested in this universal quality of jewelry and personal objects, the value and meaning they represent, and the different roles they have in exchanges between people as gifts, souvenirs, and heirlooms.
Much of her recent work uses the bead for both form and conceptual inspiration. Porcelain is carefully sliced and sometimes molded by the artist’s fingers, then strung together. The outside of most beads she makes remain the traditional white we expect from porcelain. Some, like these above, have secret hints of colors inside, only seen as the wearer moves or when they are reflected on clothing.
See more of Manon van Kouswijk’s avaliable pieces including the one of a kind REVERSE NECKLACES in this art class.