Since June 8, and until November 4, 2018, the atypical and astonishing Musée le Secq des Tournelles presents an exhibition that is a must-see as the technique of the jewellery artist Sara Bran is so particular and remarkable. Shortly before the fashion week, I had the opportunity to discover the place, Sara’s work and the refinement of her technique. After a beautiful half-day in Rouen, I was certain that I would have to return to explore this beautiful city.
Yellow gold, diamond and Tahitian pearl pendant. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
1- Sara Bran
Before becoming a leading specialist in beading, Sara Bran practised her artistic talent in stone carving by cutting directly into the material. Following a happy accident – a piece of stone that came loose from a sculpture in progress – she decided to turn to jewellery. From this piece of stone was born her first piece of jewellery, a pendant, then she decided to start a training with a master jeweller. At the same time, she started to design her first collection.
Very quickly, she set her sights on the repercé technique, which is less and less practised today, to bring her mastery of the bocfil and her gesture to a level of excellence rarely reached. With the help of this very fine saw, she drills, saws, trims, and lets the light seep through metal plates that are opaque and massive at first, transforming them into lace after hours of work.
Two rose gold bracelets by Sara Bran. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
Moreover, she collects lace, amassing samples from all over Europe, even going to meet lacemakers in Portugal where the Portuguese Museum of Decorative Arts FRESS welcomed her in residence for two years. She also presented her research work at the Cité de la Dentelle et de la Mode in Calais and at the Musée des Beaux-Arts et de la Dentelle in Alençon. The result is an incredible, almost unreal necklace: the Col Point d’Alençon, made in 750 gold and diamonds during 2014. It is presented in the Rouen exhibition.
Gold and diamond bracelet. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
Of course, such know-how could not fail to interest the great luxury houses. In 2013, she collaborated with Guerlain and designed and created a silver lace trim to adorn some twenty antique bottles for a limited edition of La Petite Robe Noire. In 2017, Piaget asked her to work on a high jewellery cuff and a series of Altiplano Double Jeu watches. His work will seduce visitors and collectors at SIHH 2017.
Necklace “Au coeur de la dentelle Guipure”, 2010. Gold, collection of the artist. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
This exploration, which began in 1998, now finds a fitting setting in this magnificent exhibition. It is the conclusion of the artist’s last residency, whose creations find a perfect echo with the astonishing works kept at the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles.
Gold pendant with Tahitian pearl. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
2- Le Secq des Tournelles Museum
Founded in 1921, the museum – dedicated to the iron arts – brings together the remarkable collection started by Jean-Louis Le Secq des Tournelle (1818-1882) and continued by his son Henri (1854-1925). Jean-Louis is known for having been Prosper Merimée’s photographer. In this capacity he photographed the historic monuments of France, of which Merimée had just created the famous service which, even today, watches over the protection and conservation of the testimonies of our real estate heritage. In 1917, Henri bequeathed the entire collection to Rouen.
Necklace “Col Point d’Alençon” in gold and diamonds. Collection of the artist. Photo : ©MarieChabrol
The city then decided to gather this vast and atypical collection in the old Saint-Laurent church (saved from ruin in 1893, then restored in 1911) and to make a museum of it which opened to the public in 1921. The public flocked to discover a collection that has since grown to 14,000 pieces.
It seemed only natural that Sara Bran’s work should be brought into dialogue with the museum’s collections. Her creations have a particular resonance here, as her ironwork can be fine, light and almost ethereal. By choosing to reinterpret one of the museum’s most spectacular pieces – The Lantern Crib – in the form of a pendant, she shows that anything can become a piece of jewellery and that technique and handiwork are still necessary in the creation of exceptional pieces.
Gold, diamond and opal pendant. Photo: ©MarieChabrol
I can only encourage you to discover her work, her finesse and her poetry. The mastery of her technique is truly remarkable. Like a manifesto so that the gesture is never lost.
Enjoy your visit and see you soon!
Sara Bran “The Gold of Secrets
Musée le Secq des Tournelles, Rouen
Until 4 November 2018. Closed on Tuesdays, from 2 to 6 pm. Price: €4