'I AM HERE', a Crafts Council Touring Exhibition of portable art, wearable objects and jewellery since the 1970s  - opened on Saturday 14 January at the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock and continued until Saturday 29 April.

I AM HERE featured 98 pieces of studio jewellery by the most significant European makers from the last five decades.

I AM HERE told the story of jewellery through the work held in the  collections of the Crafts Council, mima, Galerie Marzee, Gallery S O and Pangolin London - beginning with pieces from  the  most radical era of making in the  1970’s.


Credit: J78: Brian Glassar, Bracelet, 1975, Photo Todd White Art Photography


The New Jewellery movement of the 1970s saw jewellers using non-precious materials and experimental design to highlight contemporary social and political issues.  This shifted our idea of what jewellery could be and had a profound impact on future making both in the UK and beyond.

The exhibition included work by Susanna Heron, one of the first jewellers to use Perspex in the early 1970s, a film of an arm piece made of ice by Naomi Filmer and a bejewelled fur-coated emperor penguin brooch by Dutch jeweller Felieke van der Leest.


Cradit: Emperor Penguin Freddie with Polar Bear Claw Necklace, Felieke Van Der Leest, 2005. Image courtesy of mima.


Other jewellers included Gijs Bakker, Caroline Broadhead, Tatty Devine, Gerda Flöckinger, Karl Fritsch, Rudolf Kocea, Ted Noten, Dorothea Prühl, Mah Rana, Hans Stofer, Emmy van Leersum and David Watkins.

The exhibition’s title came from an essay by the anthropologist Ted Polhemus in which he said, ‘Lost in an increasingly undifferentiated, homogenised global universe we urgently need visual adjectives which proclaim ‘I am here’. The essay was commissioned for the catalogue of the 2007 Jerwood Applied Arts Prize.


 Main Image  Credit - J243: Dorothy Hogg, brooch, from the ‘Spirit Level’ Series, 1994, Photo Todd-White Art Photography


Engagement Projects

There were also two exciting engagement projects for young people running alongside the exhibition.

East Ayrshire Leisure Trust's Cultural Development team, working in partnership with National Museums Scotland offered an engagement and learning programme for children and young people.

In a two day project for P7 pupils, participants learned about contemporary jewellery design and had the opportunity to experiment with some of the processes and techniques used to create the 'wearable art' and 'portable objects' in the exhibition.

Pupils visited the new Art, Design and Fashion Galleries at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, National Museums Scotland Learning and Programmes Team and were introduced to their collection of Contemporary Jewellery, where they took part in handling session and hands-on activities to explore the design and making process.

The second part of the project took place at the Dick Institute where pupils visit ed the 'I Am Here' exhibition and worked with professional jewellery designers to experiment with some of the specialist techniques and materials on display. Each pupil created a finished, unique piece of wearable art which explored self-expression through design and making.


For S5&6 pupils and people age 16-25 years from East Ayrshire

The second engagement project was aimed at young people with a strong interest in design, craft and art and those in/or working towards further education in these fields, or portfolio building.

This group also visited the National Museum of Scotland’s new Art & Design galleries, attended workshops at the Dick Institute over a ten week period and worked with practising jewellery design collective O-Pin. They also experimented with some of the processes and techniques used to create the wearable art and portable objects in the exhibition.

Focusing on alternative materials such as plastics, wood and paper, participants were guided through the design process which resulted in a final piece of jewellery or sculpture personal to them. These finished works were showcased at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Visiting Information

The Dick Institute

Elmbank Avenue



Tues & Wed 10am – 6pm,

Thurs 1pm-8pm,

Fri & Sat 10am -4pm

FREE admission


About the Crafts Council Collection

The Crafts Council Collection was formed in 1972 and charts the history and development of contemporary craft in the UK, capturing significant moments in the work of a maker, and developments in practice. It currently includes over 400 jewellery pieces and represents many of the great and iconic names and works in the modern history of jewellery practice, such as Caroline Broadhead, David Watkins, Roger Morris, Gerda Flöckinger, Lina Peterson, Naomi Filmer, and Andrew Lamb.


About the Crafts Council

Founded in 1971 and incorporated by Royal Charter, the Crafts Council is Britain’s national agency for contemporary craft. Through exhibitions, publications, education programmes, and curating the national Collection, we champion the UK’s foremost makers and present contemporary craft in new ways, challenging perceptions of what craft is and can be. The Crafts Council is a charity.  Its work is made possible by the support of trusts and foundations, individual patrons, and corporate sponsors, and through public funding by Arts Council England. www.craftcouncil.org.uk


The Crafts Council is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. www.artscouncil.org.uk