Contemporary Camouflage

The human body is an unavoidable topic in conversations about jewellery. As a wearable art form, considerations have to be made for jewellery to hang correctly from a neck, for clasps to be manageable by hands and rings to sit comfortably on fingers. But for many contemporary jewellers the pieces they make are just as much at home on a gallery wall as they are on a wrist or dangling from an earlobe. This is certainly the case in Rebecca Hannon's Contemporary Camouflage, on until month's end at the Mary E. Black Gallery.

The display is as bold and colourful as the jewellery itself: Standard white gallery plinths and glass cases are abandoned in favour of a brightly patterned wall wrap that encircles the gallery. The patterns on the wall reference dazzle camouflage, a technique used in WWI where warships were painted in zigzag patterns to confuse perceptions of depth and distance.



These black-and-white dazzle stripes are present on the gallery wall, as are natural forms of pattern and camouflage: The red, black and yellow of the coral snake; spots from big cats.

The jewellery mirrors these designs and colours. Hung directly onto the wall, the pieces visually weave in and out of their surroundings, sometimes melting into the gallery walls and other times bursting out of them. Hannon specializes in an unorthodox material: Laser-cut laminate, like would be found on a kitchen floor, only far more exciting. The flat pieces of laminate are intricately arranged into complex 3D structures, fitted together in a puzzle-like manner bringing to mind layers of feathers or rows of scales. At times the flatness of Hannon's material is accentuated with colourful laminate circles, teardrops and other shapes laying flush to the wall.

In many ways Contemporary Camouflage is sensory overload. Our perceptions of shape, dimension and material are blown to bits, but the order in the chaos—the astute applications of pattern, the richness of the colours and the satisfying intricacy of the designs—is extremely satisfying. —Mollie Cronin

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