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Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Isabel Distassi

B. Brazil | 1995 | Based in London


Royal College of Art | MA Jewellery and Metal | 2018 - 20
The University of Edinburgh | BA (First Class Honours) Jewellery and Silversmithing | 2014 - 17
City and Guilds of London | Art Foundation | 2013 - 14


Matter- morphosis | Dyson Gallery | London | 2019
One Man Band | Horniman Museum | London | 2019
Elements | ECA Alumni | Lyon & Turnbull | Edinburgh | 2018
Open 2018 | The Royal Scottish Academy | Edinburgh | 2018 




Degree Details

School of Arts & Humanities

Jewellery & Metal (MA)

Isabel’s practice looks at the complexities of the body and its relationship with jewellery. By examining how delicate lines and bold mass can merge, her work interrogates the directionality of influence: does the jewellery influence the body or the body influence the jewellery? Isabel explains that ‘the subtle yet constant shifts in balance between the two demonstrates that the chain needs the body as much as the body needs the chain; they work in unison to create something enigmatic, tactile and unique.’ 

Another facet of her exploration concerns the shifting concept of a tool. Isabel uses drawing as a tool for seeing, jewellery as a tool for delineating the body and even uses jewellery itself as a tool for making jewellery. Perhaps most importantly, Isabel uses jewellery as a way of understanding herself. Despite being the subject of her own exploration, she hopes for her body to be rendered unspecific and unimportant, and to inspire the feeling of curiosity and intimacy in others.

Recently, Isabel has moved towards photographic explorations, for which she has created physical pieces emphasising the human touch. Her desire to explore physicality has been only intensified by the recent COVID-19 lockdown, where our bodies were discouraged from and deprived of human contact, leaving them isolated and craving. This has inspired a project for after her MA, to create a collection of bespoke items physicalising the connections different people have with jewellery. By examining a variety of body types, which offer both a diverse range of forms and tell a spectrum of stories, she hopes to create pieces that are authentic to the wearer. Thus, the relationship between the body and jewellery continuous beyond herself. 



The 'Line' photograph is a three-dimensional drawing. Isabel instinctively linked the model's body with metal wire and elastic to reference the controlled spontaneity of her line drawings. As the model moved the shapes shifted and warped to accommodate her body but stayed within certain limitations. This experiment sparked a curiosity about herself and led her to explore her own body, first through drawing and later through jewellery.
Link makes chain; chain makes link




Follow and Force


Hold II

During her MA, Isabel was influenced by the concept of eroticism and particularly looked at works by Audre Lorde. In Lorde's essay 'Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power' she explains that the erotic is 'a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognised feeling.' By using photography to both distort and reveal, Isabel depicts the ambiguous and erotic relationship between the body and jewellery.



From the body on the body

This series explores the intimate relationship between the body and jewellery. By looking at where the chain naturally traces and falls it alludes to the concept of using jewellery to make jewellery. The crevices act both as pools for holding jewellery and create shapes in which to make jewellery from. This idea will be developed further to create a variety of pieces modelled on herself and others.
22 July 2020
14:00 (GMT + 0)

Jewellery & Metal Event Panel Discussion: The Body Alive

Panel discussion on jewellery and object concepts inspired by the living body.
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