sculpture for the body

Humans have made and worn jewellery since time immemorial. The desire to express oneself with jewellery is thus deep-rooted and shared by all cultures. A piece of jewellery may even act as a form of signalling among people all over the world. Each piece has its own narrative, can be seen as a status symbol, a mark of character or sign of individuality.

The exhibition reflects the varied approaches, techniques and topics of modern jewellery-making in Iceland, presenting pieces made by a diverse group of goldsmiths, jewellers and artists focused on personal adornment.

The participating artists are Anna María Pitt, Arna Gná Gunnarsdóttir, Ágústa ArnardóttirHelga Mogensen, Hildur Ýr JónsdóttirJames MerryKatla KarlsdóttirMarta Staworowska and Orr (Kjartan Örn Kjartansson).

Curated by Brynhildur Pálsdóttir.

The exhibition is part of DesignMarch 2024.

About the Participants

Anna María Pitt (b. 1972) graduated from New Bucks University in the United Kingdom with a BA (Hons) in silversmithing and jewellery design. Anna María has participated in numerous international jewellery exhibitions, such as Artistar in Milano where she received a Design Award in 2017. Anna María is continuously inspired by natural aesthetic patterns that she seeks to formulate and readdress in her work. Clashing elements – such as those of the organic and logical, warm and cold, entropy and order – are also factors that influence her in creating jewellery that is both wearable and stand-alone art.

Arna Gná Gunnarsdóttir (b. 1974) graduated from the Iceland University of the Arts with a BA in visual arts in 2006 and a diploma in art teaching in 2007. She also pursued studies at the Bergen Arts Academy and the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm. She lives and works in France and Iceland. Arna Gná blurs the lines between mysticism and the natural world to create works that can be seen as enigmatic and strange but at the same time they are closely connected to the human body and its imperfections. Interested in the deconstruction and reconstruction of found materials, Arna Gná mixes colours and fabrics to create a new reality inspired by the body’s connection to the magic of nature.

Ágústa Arnardóttir (b. 1987) is the designer behind Studio Vikur. Her passion is to work with materials and enhancing their unique properties. Studio Vikur works with pumice from the volcano Hekla. White pumice from Hekla is unique, but it is lightweight and breaks easily with little pressure. When the stone is burned at low heat, it shrinks and takes on a vastly differing appearance. The stone transforms from a loose and delicate form to a solid, bronze-coloured stone. The transformation of the material is fascinating and lends itself well to minimalist jewellery.

Helga Mogensen (b. 1980) graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, in 2007. Since then she has participated in exhibitions both in Iceland and abroad. Helga works with a wide range of materials such as silver, copper and driftwood to create her one-off jewellery pieces. The pieces are inspired by a place in the north of Iceland that she visits every summer with her family. Helga lives and works in Reykjavík.

Hildur Ýr Jónsdóttir (b. 1976) graduated with a BA degree from the jewellery department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, in 2006. In her work, she looks into the possibilities of specific materials and textures, showing great consideration for each unique process that is marked by immediacy and an element of surprise. For instance, a layer of copper grows on the pieces through a process that allows for an organic result that bears semblance to nature itself. The pieces can be worn on the body, but comfort is not Hildur Ýr’s main concern, as she prioritises the unity of the object, with regard to things like the clasps or hooks for example.

James Merry (b. 1982) is a visual artist from the United Kingdom, now living in Iceland where he has worked with Björk since 2009 as a frequent collaborator and co-creative director on her visual output. He is primarily known for his hand embroidery and mask-making and he has collaborated with institutions such as the V&A, The Royal School of Needlework and Gucci, as well as artists like Tim Walker, Tilda Swinton and Iris van Herpen.

Katla Karlsdóttir (b. 1996) studied art at Paris College of Art before going on to study goldsmithing and modern jewellery-making at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. Since 2020 she has been making jewellery under the brand name KATLA STUDIO. She works with noble metals and natural stones which show very clearly how Icelandic nature influences her craft. She also uses recycled materials such as old smartphone screens that she repurposes so that they resemble natural materials like shells, pearls and fine stones. Her work then questions modern consumerism – calling upon people to take a moment to consider their personal consumption and reassess the important things in life.

Kjartan Örn Kjartansson (b. 1967) is the owner of jewellery workshop and store Orr, located in downtown Reykjavík, but the store is a popular stop among tourists visiting Iceland, in particular. On that note, Orr was designated the Tourist Shop of the Year in 2016 for having a positive effect on the tourism industry in Iceland. Kjartan himself is well known for his original designs, working in an interesting and playful way with scale, movement and colour, for example.

Marta Staworowska (b. 1985) is a trained landscape architect, art historian and goldsmith. Before moving to Iceland six years ago, she worked for the Polish army, being stationed in Afghanistan. She graduated earlier this year as a goldsmith from the Technical College Reykjavík and currently works at Aurum as a goldsmith. Dóra Jónsdóttir, a filigree master, introduced Marta to the craft and encouraged her to pursue studies in goldsmithing. Filigree is the common thread in Marta’s works. This technique can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. To this day, designers like Marta continue to explore this delicate craftsmanship in contemporary jewellery.