Spanish designer Chus Bures creates jewels that capture the essence of famous artists in miniature form

In collaboration with acclaimed artist Miguel Barceló, Chus Burés has created a series of jewels inspired by the abundance of marine motifs in Barceló's work.

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By Rebecca Doulton

As a young student of Fine Arts in Barcelona, Chus Burés was drawn to the anarchic energy of the Punk movement in the UK and experimented with recycled materials and edgy concepts that clashed with Spain's conservative dictatorship. An active member of  'La Movida' - the countercultural movement that paved the way for a new Spanish identity following Franco's death in 1975 - Burés sparked up friendships with the emerging artists of the day. After his design for a silver hairpin was selected by director Pedro Almodóvar as the murder weapon for the 1985 film 'Matador', Burés' lucky star began to rise.    

Burés has cultivated many close friendships with artists over the years and, inspired by their work, creates collections that capture the essence of their spirit in miniature jewellery form. He is very clear about drawing a line between the two professions. "Choosing elements from an artist's world is not just about random selection," explains Burés. "There has to be a 'dialogue' between the artist and the designer and very clear lines established about our roles: he's an artist, I'm a designer, but we're both creators."

One of the most fruitful dialogues has been with Miquel Barceló, Spain's most acclaimed and valued contemporary abstract artist, renowned for his colossal installation of colourful dripping stalactites on the domed ceiling of room XX in the United Nations in Geneva. While Barceló was working on his famous altarpiece for the Gothic Cathedral of Palma, Mallorca - an astounding ceramic altar representing the miracle of Jesus multiplying bread and fish for his followers - Burés decided a 'dialogue' between the two creators should be on the cards.

The cathedral, situated on the water's edge, and the abundance of marine motifs in Barceló's work at the time convinced Burés that his friend was immersed in a world that drew life from the sea and plants. When they met again, Barceló turned up with a handful of pieces he had modelled in aluminium foil, cardboard and little pieces of wax, which recorded traces of his "fingerprints that are reproduced in some of the jewels". Out of these initial donations by Barceló and constant dialogue between the two men, Les Algues de Mer (Seaweed) and a series of jewels (earrings, necklaces and pendants) entitled Boucles de Mer (Sea Curls) were born.

Dominated by the Seaweed necklace and bracelet, both crafted in yellow gold with a satin finish, the collection writhes and swirls with the movement of the sea. Fishhooks with tiny pieces of bait hang from the ear while poly-faceted gold pods carefully shield their diamond prey. The contours of the Sea Curls, primordial in their irregularity, invite us to enjoy Barcelo's majestic art in mini sculptural jewellery form thanks to Burés. The pieces, each a limited edition of 20 signed and numbered jewels, only 10 of which are for sale, are currently on display in the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York from 10 October-20 December 2013.

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