Sunday 24th December, 2006


Barbara Jardine... a master jeweller

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“Barbara Jardine has chosen to live and work in Trinidad, where appreciation of her work is very limited and the market for art jewellery is small. Jardine is a master jeweller who produces all her work by hand, crafting every stage of it herself. Sometimes she uses ancient skills, such as drawing wire through a plate, as jewellers have done since the days of the Pharaohs, or granulation, perfected by the Etruscans. Working in isolation, and with limited resources, she has also developed her own techniques, exploring and exploiting the qualities of organic indigenous materials, such as turtle shell. She has brought to bear on them the craft she was taught by experts in London. To classical styles and motifs she has added her own quirky and potent imagination, intrepid use of colour and instinctive, polished style.

“Many of her major creations too are fascinating not only for their rich palette and fine craftsmanship, but also because of the stories they hint at, and the profound and sometimes shocking passions that inspire them.

“Most of Jardine’s finest work has not been jewellery in the sense of personal adornment. She still makes wearable jewels that are beautiful, and will tailor a commission to suit the personality of the intended wearer. But her best work is not merely decorative; it is invested with enormous significance and, despite its small scale, carries the same emotional charge as fine art in any other medium.

“Motherhood, sexual fulfilment, the friendship of women, all of which have also been important in Jardine’s life, are not represented in her jewellery. But loneliness, grief, desire, and unrequited love are pictured there again and again.

“When she returned from England, Jardine had no concept of what a life in art in Trinidad might be. She simply made her work, heedless of what most people might think. Unwittingly, she has influenced younger artists by being an example of what can be achieved, given talent, dedication, and discipline. But Jardine didn’t set out to blaze a trail. Her aims are what they have always been: to make beautiful things, and to remain true to her calling.”

Text by Judy Raymond
Barbara Jardine photographed by Abigail Hadeed
Work photographed by Michele Jorsling
All text and images used with the permission of Robert
and Christopher Publishers.

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