This contemporary version of chatelaine jewellery takes on the form of an imaginary artefact to tell stories of people from history who are hidden or under-appreciated. Jewellery would have been retained as such an artefact throughout history for its material value, Gillam-Hull looks past this traditional sense of worth and focuses on revealing the precious personal histories of the women who wore such pieces.
They render the classic shapes of chatelaine jewellery in to crisp and blocky silver sheet, but then layers it with traditional methods like chasing and an oxidised and aged finish. This gives a confusing element to the work leaving the viewer questioning if they are looking at something contemporary or antique, drawing them to look closer to learn more about the piece and who it tells the story of.
This item was made for Henrietta Howard Countess of Suffolk (1680-1767). A woman who overcame many personal troubles throughout her life as a mistress to George II and servant to Queen Caroline, to become an extraordinary figure in court and member of a famous group of writers, poets and politicians.
The main long locket is a writing case, with compartments for both paper and pencil. The chased design shows the façade of Marble Hill House that Henrietta built as a refuge from her restricted life at court. The plans were made through many letters to her friends who aided her, and Henrietta is know for her many letters to influential artists and politicians of the time.
The smaller locket is a thimble case, chased with her title as countess of Suffolk. The title was passed to her later in life and mean that she gained a promotion within the Queen’s household to mistress of the robes. So this thimble case is added to the chatelaine to accommodate her new daily role.
For more information on Henrietta Howard see the English Heritage site or read Tracy Borman’s book ‘Kings mistress, Queens servant’.