Journal: Anna Davern – Structurationism
Some thoughts on:
TILL DEATH DO US PART: A STRUCTURATIONIST APPROACH TO JEWELLERY
(Published in Craft In Society ed. Noris Ioannou 1992 Fremantle Arts Centre Press)
I have to admit that having read this paper a number of times over the years, I am still no closer to having any real understanding of structurationism. It is a social theory. I’m not a social theorist. But, it was great to read it again in preparation for this blog post because it makes me re-think how and why I make things.
When I first read it in 1992, I remember being impressed by the idea that jewellery wears people rather than the other way around. Murray describes structuration as “a doctrine which deprives individuals of their position at the centre of meaning”. It gives objects the same status as people. As people wear jewellery, so too does jewellery wear people. At the time that I first read it, I was also studying Lacan’s theories of the Gaze and how as a person observes a work of art, that work of art in turn observes the viewer. (Very simplistic I know, but as I said, I’m not a social theorist!) It made me think that as we touch jewellery, jewellery in turn touches us, and it is the physicality of jewellery that can make us aware of our own physicality.
As a result of all of this, I started to accentuate the physical aspects of my work. I made heavy jewellery, I made soft jewellery and I made prickly jewellery.
On reading this article again this week, I am more intrigued by the idea of “the life of the object” Murray describes jewellery as “attaching itself to people and disengaging itself from people”. The jewellery object has a trajectory and a journey to travel in its life. In this way, jewellers can be seen as tutors of objects. We prepare the jewellery objects for the journeys they must travel.
I realised that this is what I had been thinking about when I made a ring for myself last year. It is made from a gold coin that was given to me by my grandmother on my 21st birthday. It is hollow. The marks and dents on its surface are the footprints of its journey through life.
Thank you for reading over the last four weeks, I hope that I’ve been interesting and entertaining and perhaps a little bit educational!