I have been asked what is the relationship between Edmund de Waal’s work and Romilly’s. The answer is in the way that the forms of the past influence and inform the material present, so that both have a preoccupation with the archaeology of forms. Romilly specifically requested that some of Edmund’s work should be displayed not behind glass, so should share in the aesthetic of the found object:
I was faintly reprimanded for writing about Romilly’s exhibition before seeing it. But now I can write about it having experienced it so beautifully displayed in grand empty studio space designed by Deborah Saunt and David Hills. The work itself is on long shelves, the individual pieces held upright by lead fishing weights, or buried under the floor or in a chapel-like annexe, with minuscule inscriptions and dots like the legion d’honneur for work which had sold. What everyone said, and was obviously true, is that it’s extremely rare to see jewellery displayed as works of art, isolated in white space so that one is compelled to engage with the detailed character of each individual work, with magnifying glasses provided, its ornament and encrustation, a modernist version of a cabinet of curiosities, echoed by cases of Edmund’s pots.
The work is very hard to photograph, especially the quality of natural daylight, and I’m not sure I’ve succeeded:
A golden rule of my blog is that I am never ever allowed to mention my close family, only dead relations. But I have been allowed to breach this rule today in celebration of the fact that my wife Romilly is holding an exhibition of her jewellery entitled Newfoundland jointly with work by Edmund de Waal in Edmund’s studio. She discovered several years ago that it is possible to buy fragments of Roman and medieval metalwork found by metal detectors and sold on ebay and has gradually acquired a small collection of buckles and thimbles and buttons and rings which she has adapted into modern palimpsests, evocative of their history, but enriched and embellished and ornamented as well.