A new exhibition showcasing the power of wearable art is coming to the Cotswolds

Meanings and Messages from the Association for Contemporary Jewellery comes to the Cotswolds this spring 2023, showing visitors how a humble brooch can mean so much more than meets the eye.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
The latest exhibition at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester explores how contemporary brooches can be used to send powerful messages.

Meanings and Messages – the new exhibition from the Association for Contemporary Jewellery – is coming to New Brewery Arts in Cirencester this spring 2023, showing visitors how wearable art like brooches can carry powerful messages.

Brooches are having a bit of a moment, with the likes of Brendan Fraser, Ke Huy Quan and Michael B. Jordan all wearing bejewelled brooches to the Oscars, cementing their position as one of 2023's hottest accessories.

But they're not just a fashion statement; there's a long tradition of brooches being worn to send silent messages and signals, with prominent female politicians leading the way – from Lady Hale's iconic spider brooch worn during the Brexit Supreme Court hearings in 2019; the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 'dissenting collar'; to former UN ambassador and first female secretary of state Madeleine Albright's collection of political pins.

Designed to show how a seemingly simple brooch can be a powerful symbol of self expression, subversion or even protest, the intriguing new exhibition features brooches from 60 different designers curated under six themes, spanning climate change, pollution, the pandemic, social justice, conflict and personal tributes – with pieces made using everything from precious metals to spent bullet cartridges.

Each piece invites the viewer to think about their own interpretation of what the meanings and messages behind it might be, as well as looking for links and connections between different pieces exhibited under the same theme, encouraging conversation and participation.

Beth Alden, CEO of New Brewery Arts, said: 'I'm not much of a brooch wearer myself, I go through phases of earrings and necklaces. But I was intrigued to see how contemporary jewellers responded to the brief of a brooch and I wondered if I could be persuaded. And on just a basic level, some of these brooches are really beautiful and stunning and yes, I'd love to wear them. 

'But the brief wasn't to just make something beautiful and wearable, it was to convey a message or carry a meaning through each brooch. And the makers have responded in amazing ways with passionate calls to arms about the environment or heartfelt stories of the pandemic. It's amazing that something as simple and overlooked as a brooch can subtly pack a big punch.'

Meanings and Messages takes place at New Brewery Arts from Saturday 15 April until Saturday 17 June 2023 and is free to attend. 

For more information, see Meanings and Messages at New Brewery Arts

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