The Dialogue project was started by Helen Carnac and Mikala Djorup in 1999 to allow verbal and practical exchanges between jewellery and silversmithing students and lecturers from The Cass, London and the Alchimia Jewellery School in Florence. The subsequent ‘conversations’ culminated in a number of exhibitions at both institutes and external events, e.g. the Inhorgenta jewellery fair in Munich and on a London Routemaster bus (‘Dialogue 5: Travel’) during the Association of Contemporary Jewellery’s ‘Carry the Can’ conference of 2006.
When Carnac left in 2006 The Dialogue project became the Dialogue Collective, it retained its remit; to discuss, explore and develop new approaches to design, fabricating, curating and showing jewellery and silversmithing as a collaborative process. The relationship with and the experience of, the viewer/buyer remains uppermost in minds of the Collective. Their use of games and activities alongside exhibitions is becoming a stalwart of the Collective and works well to engage people and open up dialogues.
With 13 themed events under its belt in total and 8 separate exhibitions in the last two and a half years the Dialogue Collective is gathering a momentum. They regularly curate an exhibition during Schmuck in Munich and this year debuted to great acclaim at the Legnica Jewellery Festival, Poland. Their show at the Manoir D’Ango, France completed the ‘Dialogue 12: Renaissance’ trilogy of exhibitions early this year. Future shows in Belgium, Munich and MADE London make it look like another busy period for the Collective.
The London based collective has 20 current members, all bar one, who is an invited artist, have a connection to The Cass, and mirrors the diverse make up of the capital with makers originally from Australia, Finland, Estonia, France, Poland, Italy, Portugal, Bahrain as well as Britain. The energy within the Collective and at the events they create is partly due to the Collective’s balance of undergraduates with their fearlessness and positive naivety alongside established makers who bring their experience and knowledge. As the Dialogue Collective grows, the interests and focus of its members also advances and diversifies leading to splinter projects focusing on commercialism, craft, art and drawing.
£20 ProjectIn 2010 the Dialogue Collective opened a Pop up Shop for one week on Columbia Road in London. It sold Contemporary Jewellery and Silvermithing pieces, designed and made by members of the Collective plus invited guest practitioners. Everything for sale was priced at £20. It was the first time the Collective had presented work to an audience who had little or no experience of contemporary jewellery and silversmithing and it was a great success.
The range of work was breathtaking - approximately 300 pieces, reflecting the varied approaches of 27 makers. The challenge to produce work for £20 led some to focus on their choices of materials, some on manufacturing processes and some on the perception of value. The motivation wasn’t necessarily in producing something that sold at £20 but in producing something that was innovative, retained the integrity of more expensive contemporary work and that could successfully retail at a low price. Some pieces worked really well and some not so, it was left to the audience and their wallets to decide but what was clearly apparent was that the myriad of solutions produced an exciting and energetic show.
The Dialogue Collective has again taken up the challenge for MADE London. Each maker is designing and making a limited edition piece that will retail at £20. Presenting the visitors to MADE London with a wall of (approximately) 150 pieces of jewellery and silversmithing. Offering a fantastic opportunity to pick up something unique from either an emerging young talent or a more established maker at a very reasonable price.