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Contemporary jewellery in Portugal

In the upcoming month of September, a noteworthy group of collectors and devotees of contemporary jewellery will be visiting Lisbon for the release of the first book on the history of contemporary jewellery in Portugal, an effort that is the outcome of a mid-career scholarship established by Susan Beech and the Art Jewelry Forum (AJF).

Cristina Filipe (artist, teacher, curator and PhD in contemporary jewellery) won the first scholarship, with the book project and an exhibition, held at Gulbenkian, between July 19 and September 16, as part of the Summer Guests program, establishing a dialogue between jewellery items and works of the Gulbenkian Museum.

Portugal’s history in this field is quite substantial, whose artists have been creating and exhibiting since the end of the 50s, the result of the first artistic jewellery course at Ar.co in 1978 and two galleries that have kept, for more than twenty years, a permanent and pivotal activity to divulge national and foreign artists – Atelier Tereza Seabra and Galeria Reverso, by Paula Crespo, both in Lisbon.

The attribution of the Susan Beech scholarship to Cristina Filipe acknowledges the efforts conducted by this researcher, but also Portuguese jewellery as a whole, whose interest from abroad is now reemphasized, and the same is expected from the national audience, with the set of initiatives that are currently scheduled to take place in September.

Besides the exhibition and the presentation of Cristina Filipe’s book on September 13, Galeria Reverso displays a collective exhibition curated by Carolina Quintela; Atelier Tereza Seabra holds an exhibition by Catarina Silva and Manuela Sousa; and Padaria24 will host works by Nininha Guimarães dos Santos, Inês Nunes and Pedro Sequeira.

At Belo Campo, part of Galeria Francisco Fino, we must also underline the presentation of the Corner Piece project by the Portuguese-Swiss artist and curator Lígia Dias, which, in Lisbon, will have its own configuration, in comparison to previous editions, particularly the one at Art Basel-Miami in 2018. Valentim Quaresma will open an exhibition at Palácio da Ajuda, where he is currently an artist in residence. Several Porto-based contemporary jewellery spaces will temporarily take hold of Lisbon, presenting a pop-up shop that can also be visited by the public. In addition to these several initiatives, open to all, AJF will organize private visits to artists, studios, while also visiting the jewellery collections of the National Museum of Ancient Art and MUDE, which also supports Cristina Filipe’s book.

Established in 1997, the Art Jewelry Forum started as a group of North American collectors interested in promoting contemporary jewellery. From a small cluster of people mesmerized by this art form, the organization acquired international significance and intervention. Besides the Susan Beech scholarship for mid-career artists, intended to support a concrete project, the AJF also awards a prize for young talents. On the scholarship that shares her name and sponsorship, the collector Susan Beech emphasized that the high standards brought by Cristina Filipe’s works have increased the jury’s responsibility in the choice of subsequent winners.

The AJF organizes as well several events throughout the year, which include visits to fairs, colloquiums and talks with artists, gallerists, scholars and collectors, it issues publications and a newsletter and has a website with plenty of information, a source of precious material for those who have interest in this art. Nevertheless, the regular journeys are perhaps what differentiates the organization’s history, properly stressed by Susan Cummins (AJF’s founder and director) as the best and most popular way to divulge artists, schools, galleries, and collections in different parts of the globe. The group of visitors, like the one that is scheduled to arrive in Lisbon, is always relatively small (about 25 people), but is deeply enthusiastic and knowledgeable about contemporary jewellery and represents some of the present-day most important collections, with an unquestionable weight and relevance, in which Portuguese artists are expected to have a special place.

By Marta Costa Reis

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