The tradition of Amberif is to support non-commercial artistic activities. One of the main manifestations of such activities is the organization of the Amberif Design Award, the International Amber Jewellery Design Competition. 130 artists from 25 countries took part in this year's 24th edition. This is another impressive increase in interest in the competition. 169 works were sent to the Amberif Design Award, nearly 15% more than the year before. The awarded and distinguished artists come from Poland, Finland, Taiwan and Iran.
In contemporary art, including jewellery art, the definition of beauty is not of key importance, nor is it popular. An international jury composed of Tarja Tuupanen (Finland), Marta Hryc and Ewa Rachoń (Poland), chaired by Melanie Isverding (Germany), faced the difficult theme of Ultimate Beauty. ADA’s long-standing curator is the German art critic Barbara Schmidt.
From the very beginning of the Award, display boards or photos of models or completed pieces have been submitted as entries, produced not only by jewellery designers but also artists from related fields, sculpture or visual arts.
Barbara Schmidt, ADA’s curator about ADA’s theme: Ultimate Beauty. Beauty is also for the eyes, but first of all it creates and stabilises our identity. We perceive others as beautiful if they are charismatic, just as we welcome things as beautiful if they carry a story. Our striving for beauty is actually a striving for life. Therefore, we appreciate a kind of beauty that lasts longer than a moment and which seduces us to live. Amber radiates this special kind of beauty. With its wide spectrum of natural colours, it highlights the wearer’s beauty and identity. Its natural inclusions and small cracks speak of life beyond perfection. In Amberif Design Award, we seek jewellery with amber as a commentary on ultimate beauty.
The Jury awarded the following prizes and honourable mentions:
THE GRAND PRIZE sponsored by the Mayor of Gdańsk, PLN 10,000:
Marcin Tymiński, Poland,
The delicate handling shows a very sublime understanding of the concept of the competition. The dialogue between the natural and artificial material and their equal treatment gives the piece a timeless holistic value. Leaves something for the imagination.
The Amber Prize: Helena Lehtinen, Finland,
At first glance, it is super simple. Yet, it is like a document, it evokes questions about cultural backgrounds, refers to classic necklaces in a conceptual way. It is a diary of evolution. A narrative built out of many different individual stories and choices.
The Silver Prize: Meng-Ju Wu, Taiwan,
A combination of metal alloy with amber in a technically challenging way that required a knowledge of metallurgic processes and the physical properties of organic amber. The result is a talismanic piece that glows from the inside.
The Jury decided to award two honorary mentions:
The Jury qualified works by 15 further artists for display at the exhibition: Azam Ghahreman, Iran; Dovile Kondrasovaite, United Kingdom; Delphine Perrache, Belgium; Yi-Jia Huang, Taiwan; Kristýna Španihelová, Czech Republic; Mirta Congost Naulart, Germany; Angela Chienchia Hou, United Kingdom; Jelizaveta Suska, Sweden; Chiaki Miyauchi, Japan; Kairi Sirendi, Estonia; Sława Tchórzewska, Poland; Norbert Kotwicki, Poland; Dorota Paruznik, Austria; Monica Bobbi, Belgium; Michał Fatyga, Poland.
Ewa Rachoń, the previous Project Director of Amberif, recalled that being part of the Jury was a completely new and very moving experience for her because until then she had only acted as ADA’s organiser. She emphasized that the Jury paid a lot of attention to searching for the idea contained in the entries and for an original interpretation of the topic. An innovative approach to amber was also important and clearly visible in the winning pieces.
Marta Hryc: On one hand, the Jury had no easy task because the broad presentation of the theme resulted in a very large number of entries. On the other hand, paradoxically, the excessive generality of creative expression and the lack of references to the specific nature of amber allowed us to efficiently and quickly eliminate some of the pieces. The final selection of 20 entries, in my opinion, reflects the diversity of both the possible interpretations of the subject and the composition of the Jury itself. What we have are pieces situated in the area of art, classical handicraft, alongside references to serial production. The competition once again proves that amber inspires artists from around the world. It is a material that allows them to build various narratives around itself, while its inner beauty has the opportunity to resonate the most fully when it is the central plot of the story. It is impossible to overestimate the value that the Amberif Design Award has in building a broad, multi-contextual image of Baltic amber in contemporary designer jewellery.
Marcin Tymiński: Amberif Design Award is one of the most important competitions in Poland. I can say that for me it is the most important one! Every year I prepare for it, often neglecting other competitions, exhibitions and events, but I think it’s worth it! ADA is unique and requires such an approach from artists as well: what counts here is the WOW effect, colloquially speaking. Flash, dramatic effect, sparkle and visuals, but isn’t this what jewellery is all about? It is about a design that will stir an inspiration in the artist and that the public will desire to own.