Sieraad is a Dutch word commonly used for “jewelry”. Though it literally means “ornament” or “adornment”. SIERAAD: International Jewelry Art Fair’s goal is to adorn, but also to educate. This year SIERAAD is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The show began in 2001 with twenty-two artists showing on an indoor tennis court in Enschede. In 2011 there were 100 participants from 10 plus countries. The show has grown significantly in a decade, but the idea has stayed the same; create a marketplace platform for contemporary jewelry where participating independent professional artists will present and sell their work to the public themselves. The model is similar to the American Craft Council or Smithsonian Shows, or even DIY craft shows like Renegade. The public can buy direct from the artist, make a connection to the maker and thus the work. Also like those shows the public pays to enter, as do the artists for their spaces. The main difference is that SIERRAAD is specifically for jewelry. Co-founder and organizer of SIERAAD Astrid Berens believes in the power of the personal touch. “At SIERAAD you connect with the artist. You listen to the story of the maker and, as the wearer, you can add your own story. It is in this respect that SIERAAD Art Fair stands out among the usual fairs with gallery presentations.” The aim is to start a conversation between artist and patron, helping the viewer understand that the word jewelry or sieraad encompasses an incredible range of work. The show brings the finely crafted works of aesthetically minimalist goldsmiths together with materially experimental – wildly conceptual student projects, and everything in between – all under one roof. Held in the historic WesterGasfabriek, a late 19th century coal gas works, the fair attracts about 6000 visitors over four days. Since 2008, SIERAAD has been held in the Gashouder which boasts a stunning pillar-less round interior with cast-iron beams. The Gashouder was once the largest structure of its kind in Europe and is certainly the most interesting building on WesterGasfabriek’s Amsterdam campus.
Also since 2006, two international art academies have been invited each year to give special presentations of their best student work. SIERAAD 2011 featured work from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp (Artesis) and École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg, France (ESADS).
Long planar pedestals of various heights form a disconnected X with plenty of room to move around and view the work. And the work ondisplay? A selection of provocative works from heavy hitters, guest curated by Marjan Unger, PhD, art historian and former head of Applied Arts at the Sandberg Institute. Inspirations and Visions, showing a wide range of material and tactility, included work from Ralph Bakker, Peter Hoogeboom, Jasmin Matzakow, Chequita Nahar, Terhi Tolvanen, Tarja Tuupanen, Eelco Veenman and Jantje Fleischhut.
For SIERAAD’s tenth anniversary the organizers have been working with Premsla, Netherlands Institute for Design and Fashion, and AVRO, an independent public broadcaster focused on Dutch cultural programming, to produce Makers and Wearers (Makers & Dragers). Broadcast on national Dutch TV and the web, the program features makers who reveal their history, process, and inspiration, and collectors who offer what the work means to them. The last episode which aired October 29, 2011 features SIERAAD participants, studio-jeweler (and a personal favorite) Uli Rapp, and Chequita Nahar, a Dutch/Surinamese jeweler and Department Coordinator of Jewellery & Product Design at the Academy ‘Beeldende Kunsten, Maastricht’.
View the latest episode of Makers and Wearers here.
In SIERAAD’s mission statement, the first objective is to generate enthusiasm about contemporary art jewellery with a greater public. Co-founders Berens and Bodt believe that offering personal contact with the artist is the magic ingredient the potion needs.
“SIERAAD Art Fair does not focus on mass-produced design, but on jewellery that is either unique or made in small quantities. It is slow-art in fast moving times. Artists relate their ideas and sometimes demonstrate the effect a piece of jewellery can have, and this appeals to people. At SIERAAD you hear the story of the maker.”
More information at: