Adornment of Unity

#Jezwecan the adornment of unity by Sarah Corbett

Jewellery has been used as a tool of communication throughout history.

Jewellery has the ability to convey a message to others.

During certain points in history jewellery became a clear and definite statement of a political movement.

In the Uk in 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union, she developed a new style of militant campaigning. Three years on, and the WSPU was making an impact. By taking their actions to what at the time were considered extremes their message and their demands for equality in voting rights for women were heard.

Inspired by a concept of Pethick Lawrence, a language communicated via adornment was created for this group of women. Using the colours purple, white and green, symbolising dignity, purity and hope.

On March 21st 1908 there was a huge demonstration in Hyde park in London; thirty thousand women attended, they had adopted the colours as a symbol of their cause. The symbolism of those colours was eventually less signifigant than the choice to wear them and by doing so declare solidarity with the cause they represented.

Thousands of jewellery items were created between 1908 and 1914 some simple, some mass produced and others one of a kind pieces with precious or semi precious stones, all of them with an unmistakable message of political unity.

Jump in time to 2015.

A different group of society are feeling oppressed by the government of their nation and the policies of austerity which they feel are eroding their quality of life and security.

The number of eligible voters choosing to use their right to do so has declined over the last 65 years, with just 61.1% choosing to turn out to vote in the latest general election.

Confidence in politicians as moral individuals is low, people are disillusioned by incidents such as expenses claimed fraudulently and self serving behaviour of many politicians.

At the end of the general election some party leaders resigned and political parties looked for candidates to take their place.

A man with a clear and authentic message came from the backbenches of the Labour party. A rank outsider with the pundits, yet his honest approach and his refusal to join the mudslinging of the mainstream of politicians, has caught the imagination and the support of many who have been disengaged from politics for some time.

The social media websites became filled with posts of support for this man which were categorised by #Jezwecan

The leadership election for the Labour party was a landslide victory for Jeremy Corbyn.

A designer from London created a necklace to represent the support for Jeremy using the concept of this hashtag as a symbol of political unity. Venice Allan in doing so made a parallel to the concept of Pethick Lawrence: a piece of adornment which is socially and politically of its time and a widely understood symbol of unity. The contemporary styling captures the essence of the youths engagement with Corbyn, and his fresh approach to politics.

If the current political climate can effect long lasting shifts of understanding and policy as did the suffragette movement, I hope that in 100 years from now someone, somewhere will be writing an article making connections to a pivotal event, which will be commemorated in a choice of adornment which goes hand in hand with social and political evolution.

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