Makers at Dundee’s Double Door Studios have launched their first-ever exhibition, 100 Jewels by 100 Women, more than a year after opening their doors.
100 Jewels by 100 Women showcases the work and the stories of female designers, each with a direct personal connection to the city.
Initially intended to coincide with Dundee Women’s Festival last year, the exhibition was put on hold due to lockdown. But now, the designers at Double Door are ready to welcome visitors.
And with everything from precious stones and silversmithing to crystal knuckledusters and 3D-printed necklaces on show, jewellery-lovers will be in their element.
“I love exhibiting jewellery in this type of setting because people look at it a bit differently,” explains Islay Spalding, owner of the Ward Road studios.
“Rather than it being always an adornment that works with the body, it’s sitting on the wall, on its own, as a piece of art.”
100 Jewels was put together by Islay and the three other jewellers at Double Door Studios – Ieva Jankovska, Christina Vernon and Holly McAfee. And each of the 100 pieces on display has a connection to the area.
Christina, 29, whose enamelled silver ‘Harbour Flotsam’ necklace is inspired by her hometown of Arbroath, says: “This has been really exciting.
“It’s been great seeing so many different jewellers and how everyone has worked together. It’s good that we all have this common link of Dundee as well.”
Meanwhile kilt pin maker Islay’s piece literally came from the ground under her feet.
“The stone that’s in it is a piece of moss agate found in the Ardownie Quarry at the back of Monifieth,” she explains.
“I know the guy that finds and cuts these, and I just find that so interesting. It’s so much more unique than a diamond or any of the traditional precious stones.”
And Islay, 37, reckons Dundee is the place to be for up and coming independent jewellers.
She says: “I think the art school (DJCAD) is renowned. The jewellery department there continually win prizes nationwide. It’s well-known for its jewellery – its design, especially.
“And I think Dundee being on the up as a city of design keeps people here, or is starting to keep people here more. They see it as a platform now to be able to start from.”
Stories behind the sparkle
As well as a variety of designs, the exhibition showcases the stories of the women behind the jewels.
Islay explains: “Part of the exhibition was to show that making jewellery isn’t always just making jewellery. And that you could study jewellery and then go on to do something completely unique.”
One person who did exactly that is Dr Maria MacLennan, who is the world’s first “forensic jeweller”.
“She basically carved her own niche of career there ,” says Islay. “She goes to the sites of earthquakes, natural disaster zones, and she’ll identify the bodies of victims by their jewellery. And she’s building up a database of all these things so people can use it in the future.
“So she studied jewellery, and now works with big organisations like Police Scotland.”
Between vegan jewellery, artists’ medical scans, lava and found objects, the exhibition is a testament to the wealth of stories in the city.
“One of the pieces even resembles a bum!” project co-ordinator Ieva Jankovska jokes, referring to her handmade brooch, ‘Exobum’.
“It’s just trying to be quite playful about the jewellery because a lot of the time people can find it serious and quite boring,” she says.
“But it doesn’t have to be that way, because when jewellery is worn to express our own personalities, why shouldn’t it also be a little bit more fun?”
The 100 Jewels by 100 Women exhibition at Double Door Studios will run Wednesday to Sunday each week until June 27 2021.