The exhibition Breathe presents the first collaborative line of jewellery designed by goldsmiths Erling and Helga Ósk, although the two have operated a shared workshop and retail space together since 2016. They explain that after sitting across from each other for almost two years, freely sharing ideas and design solutions, a closer collaborative venture came about quite naturally. While their respective approaches to their subject matter might seem divergent to the casual observer, they both agree on a certain shared attitude toward jewellery design, with plenty of room for overlap between the two.
It was clear to both of them from an early age that their paths lay toward craftsmanship, and goldsmithing in particular. While Helga Ósk has immersed herself in traditional Icelandic design, creating works with aesthetic roots deep in Iceland’s past, Erling has experimented with the creation of forms hitherto unseen. They both, however, make a habit of venturing outside their comfort zones, breaking from their own aesthetic sensibilities whilst building on the well-established bedrock of their years of professional experience in the field.
When asked what attracts them to jewellery, Erling is quick to remark on the sense of mystery it exudes, with Helga Ósk adding that jewellery is by nature deeply personal; we come by it during times of great import in our lives, or inherit it from loved ones. This connects it inextricably to memory, and when we wear jewellery, we are conscious of the story behind each item. “Jewellery is so meaningless when it sits alone in the window,” Erling says. “Without story, a jewel alone is nothing.”
Erling and Helga Ósk not only have a penchant for intricate handiwork, but also subscribe to an organic design process that stresses total freedom of design. They admit that while contemporary culture does interest them to some degree, they avoid forcing out preconceived ideas; the best works emerge unguided and piece themselves together naturally. They are otherwise tight-lipped on the subject of their new line, but all signs point to an exciting outcome; feather-light gold ornaments whose shape is determined by the material’s inner tension.
Text Ragnheiður Pálsdóttir / Photo Rafael Pinho