Jewelry with an Olympic spirit

Besides upgrading Attica’s infrastructure and generating the appropriate global and local hype, the upcoming Olympic Games are also providing some food for creative thought. «Medals, Decorations and Coats of Arms – Miniature Confessions,» a jewelry exhibition which opened Wednesday at the Eleni Marneri Creative Gallery is a reflection on how landmark moments and a glorious past affect the creative process. The show’s concept belongs to artistic jewelry lover Eleni Marneri, a gallery owner who established her own space situated between Patission Street and Fokionos Negri Square two years ago. Since then, Marneri has invited artists and designers to work on specific themes – including «Creative Weddings» and «Ruby Red.» This time round, however, her idea was to urge Greek artists – though she frequently collaborates with foreign designers, this time around she only addressed local talent – to explore their sense and sensibilities through tradition, history and sport. It proved to be thought-provoking for the artists, who promptly embarked on a journey of bridging periods and conceptions: Some went on to search for Greek and foreign vintage medals and decorations, while others created their own. All the artists, however, stretched their imagination developing their own tributes to bravery and excellence using a variety of tools: from fancy feathers to beautiful gems and from precious metals to delicate fabrics. Zacharias Galanis focused on beautifully crafted cameos for rings, ring-necklaces and rosaries, using delicate, as if embroidered chains, while Olga Mergou came up with a vivacious collection of gadget-bags as well as necklaces and charm bracelets featuring marathon runners and other athletes. For his bold collection of jewelry pieces, Marios Voutsinas used both new and old coins for decorations – including 100- and 500-drachma commemorative pieces – adding fluid silver to imitate the ribbon. Silver was also a favorite with Margarita Myroyianni, who created a series of fairy-like tiaras. The pieces were inspired by a project already in progress – Myroyianni is in her final year at the School of Fine Arts in Athens – focusing on children’s tales adapted for the stage. For the artist – who enjoys wearing tiaras herself – the collection represents «a romantic view of a world which is being lost.» In a bout of creative mix and match, Katerina Kotsaki combined old medals with a variety of objects, including an old Russian spoon and a jade Buddha. An avid animal lover, the designer also came up with the idea of a cat medal. Katerina Psoma’s signature use of colorful semi-precious gems (including quartz and pearls) and vintage pieces resulted in a playful series of bracelets and necklaces featuring bows and flags. Equally vivid was a jewelry collection of necklaces featuring a variety of beads and cameos by Christina Darra. Dimitris Dassios’s inspired couture-jewelry included striking cuff bracelets combining metal and silk, resulting in a sense of pleated architecture. For his cuff bracelets, Dassios used vintage English brooches, replacing the existing stones with his own choice of dramatic Swarovski crystal. «A woman is worth a thousand medals» is designer Stella Vassiliadou’s mantra. Originally a bag designer, Vassiliadou took on the challenge launched by Marneri and sought out vintage medals. Her efforts resulted in a collection of copper jewelry and accessories. Inspired by Greek master Nikolaos Gyzis – specifically by a medal designed by the celebrated Greek artist during the postwar period – Vassiliadou focused on two ideas, the element of Greekness and the importance of the woman. Elsa’s work with titanium was intriguing – using a special technique she offers the «difficult» material a palette of colors and shades. The artist’s offerings at the gallery included innovative ideas for medals – in canoeing and diving, for instance – as well as a series of daring rings, featuring «slices» of titanium. Also working with titanium is Vassilis Vassiliou, who created eye-catching rings in combination with gold. There have been many leaders and rulers throughout the history of mankind. For Pia Adrianou, however, there is only one king – soul master Barry White. At the gallery, Adrianou’s three caricature White portraits greet visitors in inimitable posture. A textile designer who enjoys painting on fabric, Adrianou’s humorous art points to a healthy attitude toward life. Eleni Marneri Creative Gallery, 3 Agathoupoleos, tel 210.866.8195. «Medals, Decorations and Coats of Arms – Miniature Confessions,» runs to September 30.