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The Sting of Passion

Lynda Moyo views the power of the femme through new gems at Manchester Art Gallery

Written by . Published on August 14th 2009.

The Sting of Passion

Throughout history women have played both the queens and casualties when it comes to matters of the heart. Whether a temptress, seductress, femme fatale or beauty icon, the various guises of women have a knack for making the strongest of men, the weakest in love. From Eve, Cleopatra and Aphrodite to Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo and even J-Lo: we've been at it for centuries. And no other artistic movement represents the supposed power of a woman like that of the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

The Sting of Passion exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery, merges art and jewellery, through Pre-Raphaelite fleshlines; powerful bodies and strikingly feminine features.

The Sting of Passion exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery is a new take on the theme, merging art and jewellery, through Pre-Raphaelite fleshlines; powerful bodies and strikingly feminine features. Curator Jo Bloxham has created a contemporary take on the era and says: “I have always felt a natural empathy with the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In them I can see a potent and enigmatic quality that – despite the superficial appearance of warmth, serenity and beauty – hides profane and often sinister meanings.”

Just as the paintings were a response to literature and poems written at the time, the jewellery in 'The Sting' depicts elements of the paintings and profound representations of the artists' creation – this time through the jeweller's work.

Highlights include 'Eve Tempted' by Arek Wolski. As the first femme fatale to many, the striking image of a naked, angelic-looking Eve with Satan at her side inspired the artist to create a brooch.

Shaped as a simple white t-shirt, inscribed with 'last forever' crossed out to become 'lust forever'. The result is a sad yet frivolous take on the Bible's first lady. Eve may be naked, but will forever bear the mark of her sin.

Another is a heavy duty necklace for a heavily troubled woman by Kepa Karmona. It tells the story of the scorned Ophelia. The jeweller has likened the tale of the girl driven to suicide over Hamlet's madness, to real events. In both stories, the Ophelia character drowns. The concrete and glass necklace poignantly displays the aggression and oppression she faced before her untimely end.

For those in-love with this period, each of the 12 jewellery artworks is a fresh take and an exploration of deeper meanings. For those with no knowledge, it's an opportunity to be able to view beautifully crafted, modern jewellery- learning the meaning behind Pre-Raphaelite art along the way.

The exhibition features new work by international artists: Jivan Astfalck (UK), Cristina Filipe (PT), Peter Hoogeboom (NL), Sarah O’Hana (UK), Benjamin Lignel (FR), Jorge Manilla (BEL), Nanna Melland (NOR), Kepa Karmona (SP), Anya Kivarkis (USA), Marianne Schliwinski (GER), Bettina Speckner (GER) and Arek Wolski (POL).

The Sting of Passion is a free exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery until October 25.

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EAugust 14th 2009.

Looks fantastic, can't wait to check it out on Sunday. Manchester Art Gallery always manages to put on a good exhibition.

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