Barbara Paganin is what you might call a complete jewellery artist. For more than 25 years, she has been imagining, creating and recycling in the form of jewellery elements that echo loss and her own life memories. Her latest exhibition, organised at the La Joaillerie gallery by Mazlo in collaboration with the Arketip association, is a pure visual and emotional marvel. Provided, of course, that one accepts to look intimately at oneself and one’s own life path.
Barbara Paganin wearing the pins from the Memoria Aperta series. Photo: Barbara Paganin
Before creating jewellery pieces, Barbara Paganin first studied metal art and jewellery design in Venice, her city of birth and residence, at theIstituto Stalale d’Arte and then took up sculpture at theAcademia Di Belle Arti. Following her studies, she became a teacher of technical drawing and design in Padua and then joined theIstituto d’Arte Pietro Selvatico. Since 1988 she has held the chair of professional design at theIstituto Stalale d’Arte, which has since become the Michelangelo Guggenheim School of Art.
MEMORIA APERTA N.11. Brooch, 2011-13. Oxidised silver, antique miniature portrait, glass, tourmaline cabochon, gold. Photo credit: Alice Pavesi Fiori.
25 years of creation, that’s a lot of jewellery. Since 1997, she has been showing and exhibiting them all over the world: France, the United States, Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal and England. Barbara’s jewellery is powerful and different. Drawing from the depths of her memory, she translates loss, mourning, pain and transformation into jewellery… She studies the metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood, searches deep in her memory for the sensations and feelings of the child she once was. A careful study of her pieces reveals the methodical and recurrent use of small shoes evoking those of dolls. This element, a signature of her latest creations, can be explained by a memory of Barbara Paganin. As a child, she was given a doll and, like many granddaughters, developed a strong love for the little shoes, which she kept preciously with her, in her pocket. Then she lost them in Venice with no hope of finding them. She explains that even today “when I walk down this street (of Venice)i look at the ground, hoping to find them“. It is therefore no coincidence that the little Marie Janes (also known as Babies or Charles IX shoes, editor’s note) can be found almost permanently on her jewellery and more particularly on the Memoria Aperta (Open Memory, editor’s note) series imagined and made between 2011 and 2013, which is being exhibited today in Paris.
MEMORIA APERTA N.7. Brooch, 2011-13. Silver, photography, porcelain, yellow sapphire, gold. Photo credit: Alice Pavesi Fiori.
Her pieces also reveal photographs, miniature portraits, fragments of porcelain from her garden and various objects that she finds during her wanderings through second-hand shops and antique dealers in Venice and elsewhere. Collecting many elements, she then reuses them in her pieces to give them a new life and a new meaning. Finally, we must mention the plant theme, which is present on many occasions in very different forms. For several years, the motif of Romanesco cabbage has been recurring. At the beginning, the designer worked on the primordial leaf, the one that inaugurates the birth of a plant and is repeated endlessly until its death. As a way of transfiguring the repetition? Perhaps. Hence the work on the natural fractal object par excellence that is the Romanesco. She works with Murano glass and acrylic resin, giving it magical colours and integrating it here as part of a brooch and there as the main motif of an unforgettable necklace.
MEMORIA APERTA N.3. Brooch, 2011-13. Patinated silver, glass, porcelain, antique watch face, rhodochrosite, gold. Photo credit: Alice Pavesi Fiori.
There are still a few days left to discover the exhibition at la Joaillerie par Mazlo. I can only encourage you to go and see it because it is really worth the diversions. The pieces are between jewellery and jewellery and are very current and modern. They tell stories of life, stories of loss and show how life goes on. I was very touched by several pieces on display and I hope you will be too!
See you soon!