Boyes Golden Values is an exhibition explores the relationship between sculpture and art jewellery, and the relationship between art and everyday objects.
In 1969, the sculptors Alfred Gruber and Jacqueline Stieger left their home in Switzerland and settled in East Yorkshire. Gruber had worked with Hans Arp and had exhibited his art jewellery alongside Calder and Picasso. When the couple arrived in Yorkshire, they established a studio and foundry and began creating art jewellery, using both traditional and innovative casting techniques.
Like many artists working in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Gruber and Stieger were inspired by everyday objects and modern materials. Using the transformational properties of casting, they began creating a vast range of sculptural objects in metal, which included a pair of bronze jeans. Plastic tablecloths, cotton dishcloths, textured fabric, chocolate wrapping paper and even fishing line were all transformed into bronze, silver or gold. They found inspiration and materials at their local Boyes store – a veritable Aladdin’s Cave on Hessle Road in Hull.
Sadly, Gruber died in 1972 but thankfully Stieger continued to work and went from strength-to-strength. She attracted the attention of Graham Hughes, Art Director at Goldsmiths, and went on to establish an international reputation for her highly distinctive work. Amongst her numerous accolades, she was made Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in 1985, and at the age of 84yrs, she remains an active sculptor and art jeweller.
Our ‘Boyes Golden Values’ project was motivated by a desire to share those skills with two younger jewellers working in the region - Nicola Fidell Chapman and Victoria Prince, founders of the Oresome Gallery, Hull. Through a series of creative workshops, Nicola and Victoria were given the opportunity to work with Stieger and explore creative sculptural processes that have broaden their artistic range.
The creative journey of all three artists has been documented by the freelance art historian and curator, Dr Gerardine Mulcahy-Parker (founder of The Exhibitours) and the ‘story-telling’ photographer, Nigel Walker.