Jewellery brand of the month: Miss J Designs

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The jewellery brand for June isn’t one I’ve been aware of for very long, but they’ve caught my eye with some stunning designs recently. Let’s give it up for:

MISS J DESIGNS

Miss J Designs is a brand based in Norfolk, founded by London Metropolitan University design gradauates Olga Jaszewska and Anthony Taylor. The inspiration for their designs is “urban simplicity and a focus on our immediate surroundings”.

The piece that’s really wowed me recently is this Harlequin mask necklace, available on Etsy for a limited time. Isn’t it stunning?

Harlequin Mask Necklace

Harlequin Mask Necklace

I also adore this Salvador Dali-inspired Telephone Lobster necklace, also available with a glitter red lobster!

Dali Telephone Lobster Necklace

The Koons-inspired Balloon Dog Brooch comes in a variety of colours.

Balloon Dog Brooch

Balloon Dog Brooch

Continuing the art theme, this Banksy-inspired Panda with Guns necklace is pretty cool.

Panda with Guns Necklace

Panda with Guns Necklace

The Geometric Elephant necklace is available in a variety of materials, and you can choose from other animals too, including a lion and an owl.

Geometric Elephant Necklace

Geometric Elephant Necklace

Miss J Designs also make 3D printed jewellery, which I think is pretty cool. Check out this Rhino brooch.

3D Printed Rhino Brooch

3D Printed Rhino Brooch

Follow the brand via the links below.

Website: missj.eu

Etsy: etsy.com/uk/shop/missJdesigns

Facebook: facebook.com/missjdesigns

Twitter: twitter.com/missjdesigns

Instagram: instagram.com/missjdesigns

Magnum Photos Now: New Approaches to the Archive

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I went to this New Approaches to the Archive talk, part of Magnum Photos Now, a series of lectures about Magnum Photos in this year of their 70th anniversary, because I work in the field of libraries and archives and was interested to learn more about a photographic archive. I expected the talk to be more about the archives themselves, but actually the evening was fascinating even though it wasn’t really what I had expected.

The evening was made up of two talks. The first was delivered by Diane Dufour, director of Le Bal, Paris, who recounted her experiences with exploring the Magnum Photo archives and exploring the concepts behind the photos taken, as well as looking at the differences in opinions of the photographers involved. One section was particularly telling, with pictures of Jewish people settling in Israel, while another photographer’s work showing displaced Palestinians was not published anywhere.

Dr Mark Sealy, curator and cultural historian, then talked about the Eurocentric gaze of typical photography archives and made the important point that the first photographs appeared at the same time as slavery was just coming to an end in the UK – as part of a wider point that a photo shows just one aspect of the world at a particular time. He showed us photographs by and of black people during the twentieth century and emphasised the importance of having diversity among the people who are able to search the archives in the first place.

As someone who works in the field of libraries and archives, the talk was an interesting look at the varied uses which can be made of those archives, and their importance in terms of culture and history.

Imagine Moscow – Design Museum

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Design Museum

I’ve always had an interest in Russia, so when I visited the Design Museum recently I made sure to check out their exhibition Imagine Moscow. The exhibition, like so many this year, marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution, and explores Moscow as it was imagined by a new generation of architects and designers in the 1920s and early 1930s. The projects envisaged by them never materialised, but they remain testaments to the ambition and vision of the new regime.

Imagine Moscow exhibition

The projects explored include aviation, communication and industrialisation, using artwork, propaganda and architectural drawings. I was particularly struck by the vision of communal living, with its strict timetables laid out for each worker of the Soviet state. I was torn between admiration for the desire to ensure every person had ample time for recreation and exercise, and horror at the tightly regulated nature of every minute of the day.

One of the most fascinating projects, for me, is the Palace of the Soviets. This, the proposed centre of Soviet administration in Moscow, was imagined as a colossal edifice in the centre of the city, with a gigantic statue of Lenin on top. The nineteenth-century Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on the proposed site was demolished in preparation for work to begin, but the building never got off the ground (literally). Eventually the site became a public swimming pool before a replacement cathedral in the original design was built.

I found the exhibition to be an interesting exploration of what might have been, and a positive introduction to the Design Museum’s new site.

Mat Collishaw: Thresholds – New Wing, Somerset House

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When I read about this exhibition, I knew I wanted to check it out. Mat Collishaw: Thresholds is a unique recreation of William Henry Fox Talbot’s first exhibition of photographs in Birmingham in 1839. But instead of plonking down the original photos and inviting audiences to view them again, the exhibition is more daring: it uses virtual reality technology to take you back to the original exhibition.

The actual room you enter, in a corner of the New Wing at Somerset House, is stark white and filled with plain white cases. When you put on the special backpack, with glasses and headphones, however, the space is transformed. Around you is a recreation of the original exhibition space. In front of you, cases showcase the impressive photographs that were originally displayed, and you can pick them up to take a closer look. Mice run along the floor, spiders creep over the paintings, and a fire burns in the corner. Outside, you can see guards policing the streets, and towards the end of the experience you can even see and hear the Chartist protesters who rioted in 1839 on the streets of Birmingham.

The actual experience lasts six minutes, though you need to allow time for the introduction and to get your equipment set up. Though short, it’s unforgettable, and its use of very modern technology reminds you of how cutting-edge the science of photography would have seemed to exhibition attendees in the mid-nineteenth century. The exhibition isn’t on for very long, but I’d urge you to catch it before 11 June.

Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths – British Library

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These days I always seem to go to exhibitions towards the end of their run, but I ended up seeing Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths at the British Library fairly early, owing to the fact that some friends wanted to go too. We booked for Saturday afternoon and were surprised to find the exhibition so quiet. Marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, it uses documents, books, letters, photographs and film footage to explore how the revolution began and developed and the impact it made.

I’m vaguely familiar with what happened, as I am very interested in Russian history anyway, but the exhibition helped to clarify events for me, and I think I left with a greater understanding of what was going on. The exhibition followed a largely chronological path, which I personally found very helpful. It looked at the structure of Russian society at the time of the Tsars before examining how and why the revolution was sparked.

My favourite section was actually the final one, ‘Writing the Revolution’, as it looked at some books which are my favourites, including Boris Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago. I also enjoyed the look at film at the end, including clips from famous Soviet films.

The exhibition runs until 29 August and it’s definitely worth taking some time out to see it this summer.