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Ringing in the changes

Things of beauty THE Skeletons of dreams by Carine Terreblanche

Carine Terreblanche's avant-garde rings remind one of weapons used in some intergalactic battle between disparate future forces.

Yet there is also something quite primitive about them. The handmade quality increases the mystery of their personalities, and it would take a special type of person to carry them off as wearable entities.

Terreblanche is one of the country's most talented jewellery designers whose craft has been elevated to a fine art through daring, yet tasteful design.

She completed her postgraduate degree in fine arts at the University of Stellenbosch in 1998. In 2007 she was appointed the university's co-ordinator of the creative jewellery design and metal technique division.

But previously she also studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, for a year. So it may not be mere coincidence that there is something of Rietveld in her designs: flat sections of colour, jagged edges and a challenging functionality.

"I love jewellery that pokes fun at all the traditional ideas of jewellery associated with status, power, precious materials and elitist bling," Terreblanche says about her somewhat satirical approach.

She cites Berlin-based designer Karin Seufert as an influence. "In her series Modern Fetishes she references well-known logotypes of iconic brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma in a playful satire of consumerism."

She also admires the work of Danish jeweller Kim Buck whose "delicate pieces reflect on the fundamental assumptions about jewellery – that it has to be wearable and communicate symbolically." 

Locally, Terreblanche is inspired by lighting designer Heath Nash, the fashion design of Amanda Laird Cherry and the graphic style of Bitterkomix.

Her new show, running in Stellenbosch from November 12, is titled The Skeletons of Dreams. In it she draws on what she calls "a meditative, partially subconscious working process to guide my two-dimensional investigation of forms. My wooden and metal forms derive from drawings in my design book.

"It is almost as though my subconscious has its own set of signs, a kind of metaphorical alphabet, which can be read or seen as the skeletons of my daydreams."

Terreblanche's "doodles" are then converted into three-dimensional wood-carved and wax-formed designs.

On the downside the designer says that she is becoming "very tired of the obsessive search for a distinctive South African identity in different design fields".

"In a country as diverse as ours, proclaiming a new identity is bound to be an over-simplification. On the other hand, I am just as fed up with lame reproductions."

Early next year Terreblanche will participate in the European jewellery exhibition Elemento Radical, which will focus on the contemporary use of silver.


The Skeletons of Dreams runs at Slee Gallery, Dorp Street, Stellenbosch from November 12 to 18. Visit


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Matthew Krouse
Guest Author

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