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Craft Curators’ Day at St Andrews in Fife

Professor Dorothy Hogg MBE in conversation with Marie-Josè van den Hout, Director of Galerie Marzee, Nijmegen.

Marie-Josè van den Hout;photo by broad daylight
© broad daylight
(Tricia Malley & Ross Gillespie)

The event
The gallery
The collection
The comments

The event

Dallas Mechan & George Dalgleish; photo by broad daylight
© broad daylight
(Tricia Malley & Ross Gillespie)

To celebrate 30 years of Nijmegen's Galerie Marzee, Fife Contemporary Art and Craft are currently exhibiting a selection of its contemporary jewellery collection. Located in St Andrew's Museum, the exhibits are imaginatively arranged according to the table settings of a lunch held at the House of Falkland.

At the event a selection of Fifers were invited to dine while wearing a piece of jewellery chosen by Galerie Marzee's Founder and Director, Marie-Josè van den Hout. The lunch table was then recreated for the exhibition. Photographs of the diners wearing the exhibits frame the space, and appear as though they were beautiful oil paintings.

As part of this exhibition, Professor Dorothy Hogg - herself a distinguished jeweller - and van den Hout, were invited to discuss the latter's approach to jewellery. Being old friends, it was a less an interview, and more a conversation.

Jennifer di Folco + Wendy Rattray; photo by broad daylight
© broad daylight
(Tricia Malley & Ross Gillespie)

The gallery

Professor Hogg began by recalling their first encounter, admitting that she had been terrified of van den Hout but amazed by the space she found herself in. Situated in a former grain warehouse, Galerie Marzee is spread over four floors of brick, concrete and steel. Primarily a selling gallery, but with over 1000 pieces in its collection, Galerie Marzee is, in fact, the largest gallery of contemporary jewellery in the world. 

Yet despite it's 30-year existence, van den Hout admitted she never expected Galerie Marzee to survive this long. The gallery's fortunes have certainly fluctuated, and the current economic climate offers little respite.

However, coming from a long line of gold- and silversmiths, to a certain extent it's arguable that van den Hout's career path was somewhat predetermined. While her brothers initially resisted the family's trade - but were bound by tradition to accept it - their sister gravitated towards it of her own accord.

Eoin Cox & Belen de la Llana - Photo by broad daylight
© broad daylight
(Tricia Malley & Ross Gillespie)

The collection

Remarkably, for a time van den Hout exchanged jewellery for painting and sculpture, and her approach to jewellery remains profoundly influenced by this experience. Indeed, at one point during the conversation, van den Hout removed the necklace she had been wearing and laid it upon the nearby display cabinet. At once, what had been three-dimensional on the body became a line drawing on a flat surface. 

Keiko Mukaide + Simon Ward; photo by broad daylight
© broad daylight
(Tricia Malley & Ross Gillespie)

This ability to transform materials is partly what makes van den Hout's approach to jewellery so unusual; that and her love of ideas, and the fact that jewellery for her is a family concern. But like many people involved in craft, she is passionate about the human hand. Her priorities, she admits, have and continue to be: head, hand and heart.

Words by Ellie Herring

The comments

Jennifer di Folco;photo by broad daylight


"Isn’t it such a strong statement?  It’s just so beautifully austere, minimalist, but beautifully designed and very clever that it sits so perfectly.  It’s just absolutely me. I love it."
Jennifer di Folco

Wendy Rattray; photo by broad daylight

"Mine’s quite a statement!  Probably wouldn’t miss me if I was wearing this.  I kind of felt a little bit Mary Queen of Scots or Elizabeth I when I first had it on.  But somebody more appropriately referred to it as kind of Egyptian.  I think it’s quite fantastic."
Wendy Rattray

Keiko Mukaide; photo by broad daylight

"Actually, if you’re wearing it, you cannot see [it].  Just seeing people’s reaction is very interesting.  It seems like she [Marie-José van den Hout] chose this necklace specially for me – the size and this design has worked very well on me."
Keiko Mukaide

Simon Ward ; photo by broad daylight

"… Ordinarily I wouldn’t even wear a wedding ring, or any kind of ring, but it’s [the ring] got a kind of worry bead aspect to it – I keep taking it off and I wear it so it’s in the palm of my hand.  I find that quite interesting.  I’m trying to kind of forget that these [the brooches] are here somehow.  It think it’s quite an interesting group of objects."
Simon Ward

Margaret Watson ; photo by broad daylight

"I love this.  It’s made out of paper.  It’s absolutely fantastic.  I don’t know how it’s done, but the colours in it are just beautiful.  I’m dying actually to take it off because I’m sort of squinting down at it, but it’s really beautiful and really unusual.  Yes, I love it."
Margaret Watson

Fiona Watson ; photo by broad daylight

"Oh, it’s [the brooch] just beautiful.  It’s just the way it reflects just anything that it picks up and it just sits there beautifully.  You think it looks really heavy, but it’s not.  The ring – I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uncut diamond before.  It’s just amazing to have the idea, the concept of doing something like this, and to create a thing of beauty from just your imagination."
Fiona Watson

Belen de la Llana; photo by broad daylight

 "It’s [necklace] very sculptural.  I like the way it’s using jade.  The rings – the colour combination is very interesting, but they are like tiny sculptures.  They are really nice to play with."
Belen de la Llana

Eoin Cox; photo by broad daylight

"This one on the top here [brooch], the plasterboard work, is very sort of Paolozzi;  it’s very Ben Nicholson.  This one [the bracelet] is just like so full on – the saltires, everything.  There’s quite a few guys I do boatbuilding with in Govan that would give their left arm for it, let alone their right arm!  Fantastic piece!"
Eoin Cox

George Dalgleish; photo by broad daylight

"I don’t normally wear much jewellery … but I do like this.  I like the patination of the zinc and I like the way they’ve made what is a very static, brittle material flow.  I also like the use of the early patterned prints that they’ve got … Dutch 17th century textile.  That appeals to me as well from the historic background."
George Dalgleish

Dallas Mechan; photo by broad daylight

"I think it’s been a great choice … I love the fact that this is very plain,  very structured and symmetrical, but it’s got very nice details – the way the links are all put together.  It’s fantastic!"
Dallas Mechan

See also
* Galerie Marzee
* Fife Contemporary Art and Craft
* St Andrew's Museum
* House of Falkland
* broad daylight (photographers)
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