In 2013 when I read about jeweller David Poston’s exhibition : Necklace for an Elephant and other Stories held in Middlesex University in the UK it brought back memories of his iconic piece The Elephant Necklace.
It was wonderful to experience it. I was lucky to see both this piece and the image above many years ago in London. I loved both. It may look as though the necklace was made especially for the elephant, however it wasn’t.
According to David Poston the story of how this Necklace came about is as follows:
In 1974 his colleague the author and curator Ralph Turner left his job in Electrum Gallery, London. In gratitude for his support jeweller David Poston presented him with a silver necklace composed of heavy fused beads.
In return Turner invited him to exhibit something very BIG for the upcoming group show: Jewellery in Europe, to be held in the mid-1970s.
Poston decided to make a very large copy of his necklace. This Portland limestone beaded piece, weight 160 kg, was the result.
To create this complex piece the beads were initially carried 300 ft up a cliff path. Next they were prepped with steel and textile dividers, drilled, and finally threaded onto a thick hemp rope.
The problem now was how to display the necklace to get a really good image. Womba the elephant was Ralph Turner’s suggestion. She was then wintering with Chipperfield’s Circus in the East Midlands safari park-close by.
The late photographer David Cripps took the image.
It had been earmarked for the Jewellery in Europe exhibition poster. However, it was only deemed suitable for the Edinburgh venue as Ralph Turner considered it unsuitable for the Victoria & Albert Museum- a place of importance.
However both the image and poster have rightly lived on. For instance in recent times a signed copy was auctioned during the 40th anniversary exhibition in Electrum Gallery, in aid of the Japanese tsunami.
Thankfully the necklace has found a home long ago with a private collector.
Poston completed his studies at Hornsey College of Art – later Middlesex University. He, as one of many, participated in the famous student protests, whose actions were a conduit for major changes in Visual Arts education in the UK.
His jewellery is held the collections of 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
David Poston website: David Poston