Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Prince Charming and the Palace of Happiness

Prince Charming and the Palace of's a name that sounds perfectly suited to a newly released Disney film involving a princess, some kind of evil witchy-poo and an overly buff blond guy who carries a sword. But I assure you, the Melbourne jewellery exhibition, held at Pieces of Eight Gallery, that goes by this title resembles no fairy tales.

Pieces of Eight Gallery, located in Russell Place, houses contemporary jewellery and small art objects from both Australian and international designers. Events and opening nights are held at this little gallery space and on Tuesday night, I found myself at Pieces of Eight, frequenting the opening night of Prince Charming and the Palace of Happiness. This exhibition, running until March 24, showcases jewellery works from three friends, Tabea Reulecke, Maarja Niinemagi and Teresa Lane, which brings together the varying experiences of three different women, to convey reflections, representations and imaginings of romantic love through jewellery and objects. Now, this doesn't mean some kind of idealistic and unrealistic kind of love, so don't expect to find love heart-shaped lockets with little photos of kissing couples or rings inscribed with 'Joe and Sarah 4evs'. Instead, these three artists have explored the nitty gritty aspects of love through their pieces, delving into the darker and less examined forms, as well as drawing from their own personal experiences. There was something about each of the pieces featured in the exhibition that made them different to any other jewellery objects I had seen before. Each piece had a raw emotional aspect accompanying it, and each piece, much like each relationship or personal romantic experience, was telling a story, whether it was about sexual desire, possession, lost love or femininity. 

Pieces in Prince Charming and the Palace of Happiness

The crowd, like sardines in this rather small space, seemed to be loving the exhibition pieces (as well as the free flowing chardonnay) as they admired jewellery with titles like 'Bird of Submission', 'Dream Horse White' and, my personal favourite, 'Three Horny Rabbits'. As you do. The space itself at Pieces of Eight is quite small and has a simple fit out that's not dissimilar to that of an art gallery. It's quite clear that this sparse space was created to highlight the jewellery on display and make it the focal point of the gallery. There are cabinets displaying the glistening permanent collection, which is also for purchase if you should so desire (and if your monetary funds permit it) to pick up one of the beautiful handcrafted pieces.

Permanent Collection

Perhaps one of my favourite things about the works on display at Prince Charming and the Palace of Happiness, was the honesty behind each piece. There were no apologies made by the artists for the emotions and experiences they were sharing with the audience. They were simply saying, 'hey, this is how it's been for me. Love's not always easy and sometimes it's shit...but it can be nice too.' Through their work, they use their own experiences to explore foreplay, femininity, fetish, sweat and sweet, tugging out the viewers own memories of those who have touched us. And on that note, happy Valentines Day, dear Readers.

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