The Elephant Necklace

Necklace for Womba.
Maker David Poston

In 2013 David Poston had an exhibition in Middlesex University in the UK – called: Necklace for an Elephant and other Stories.  Reading about it reminded me of the Elephant Necklace.

The necklace is wonderful, and I love it. I was lucky to see both the piece and this image years ago. Though it looks as if the necklace was made for the elephant, it wasn’t.

This is the story of how the Elephant Necklace came about.

In 1974 when author and curator Ralph Turner was leaving his job, in Electrum Gallery, David Poston presented him with a silver necklace of heavy fused beads-ingratitude for his support.

In return Turner invited him to exhibit something BIG for the group show:  Jewellery in Europe, held in the mid-1970s.

So Poston decided to make a very big copy of the necklace. The result: this Portland limestone bead necklace, that weighed 160 kg.

To create it, the beads were first carried 300 ft up a cliff path.  They were next prepared with steel and textile dividers, drilled, and finally threaded on thick hemp rope.

The problem now was- how to display the necklace in order to get a good image. Turner’s solution was Womba the elephant, then wintering with Chipperfield’s Circus in the East Midlands safari park.

The late David Cripps was the photographer.

The resulting image was earmarked for the Jewellery in  Europe exhibition poster. However, it was only deemed acceptable for the Edinburgh venue, as Ralph Turner considered it unsuitable for such an august institution as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The image and poster have rightly lived on.  In recent years a signed copy was auctioned off at the Electrum Gallery’s 40th anniversary exhibition, in aid of the Japanese tsunami.

What of the necklace? Thankfully it found a home with a private collector, long ago.

Poston studied at Hornsey College of Art – later Middlesex University. He was a participant, in the famous student protests, whose actions were a conduit for major changes in Visual Arts education.

Poston’s jewellery is in the collections of both the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Melbourne.

He describes himself as an interdisciplinary designer, inventor and 3D designer.

The Elephant Necklace reflects the originality, fun and inventive creativity that characterised jewellery design of 1970s Britain.

It brings a smile…

With thanks to David Poston for information, by E-mail 2013

Further Information:

David Poston website: David Poston

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