Louisa Guinness and the Artist as Jeweler
For the last decade, Louisa Guinness Gallery has served as a vibrant site for artistic experimentation, tackling the expansive subject of creativity through works of jewelry made by top modern and contemporary artists such as Sophia Vari, Pablo Picasso, Lucio Fontana, Ron Arad, Anish Kapoor, Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and Mariko Mori. As the only gallery in London working with sculptors and painters to commission custom made jewelry pieces, the gallery—which opened a brand new location in Mayfair earlier this year—triumphs concept over materiality.
“Though I was a stockbroker for 12 years, art was always in my blood,” explains owner Louisa Guinness. “I grew up surrounded by art and design, my father built and runs a Steam Engine museum in Ireland.” Guinness, who cut her teeth dealing artist-made furniture before eventually turning to jewelry, had already started collecting jewels by 20th century artists in 2003 when she first opened her gallery. “At the time I noticed that few, if any, contemporary artists were making jewelry,” she adds. Reception to Guinness’s first show was resoundingly positive, and she “never looked back,” as she remembers it.
Her upcoming exhibition at this year’s Design Miami/—the gallery’s first time at the fair—will showcase a new project by Ross Lovegrove, who has designed six rings. “The series is called ‘Foliates’ and is inspired by nature but has been digitally designed and manufactured using the very latest in 3D printing technology.” Works like this are indicative of the unusual approach the gallery fosters. “We will also be taking a selection of pieces from our gallery show ‘The Artist as Jeweller: Interpreting Stone’,” a collection of works that challenged artists to use common-place stone rather than more traditional, precious materials such as gems or marble. “We want the jewelry to be judged for its artistic merit and not its material content,” notes the dealer.
Strengthened by an original point of view, the future of the gallery is sure to continue to offer lessons in looking. “All collaborations are different, just like people,” Guinness expresses. “I love the artistic challenge these projects present and expect to run a series of exhibitions over the years presenting new projects and other curated exhibitions.”