Bharti Parmar, "Fidelle et Secret", 2004, cyanotype, courtesy and on loan from the Light Work Collection

Bharti Parmar, “Fidelle et Secret”, 2004, cyanotype, courtesy and on loan from the Light Work Collection

Bharti Parmar

A piece of amatory sentimental jewellery of the eighteenth or nineteenth century started its cultural  as a signpost in the unfolding and destiny of an affair or close friendship. It encoded desires and articulated affinities. It prized open, connected, and conjugated the inner lives of couples. It eased the diplomacy of a courtship that often unfolded in the margins of social or ethical acceptability but where flowered a variety of love feelings from the narcissistic to mutualism, from the noble to the decadent, often within the same relationship. Although the various families of sentimental jewellery shared design elements and messages, each amatory piece became individualized instantly as it began to exalt the being of the recipient and to release his or her imagination from the confines of reasonableness. Virtuous dignity bowed before the allure of pleasurable risks and the promises of illicit passion. These objects became as precious as the delicious expectations that they conveyed, reciprocated, or stole.
– Jacques Rangasamy, 2005, from Light Work’s Contact Sheet #132

This work comprises a suite of 5 cyanotype photographs of 19th century amatory lockets in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in England. The original objects are strikingly blue and white as they are made from white mother of pearl motifs set upon deep blue vitreous enamel.
I was fascinated by these objects predominately due to their size, shape, color and materials. They also contain text, usually amatory endearments, often in French. A micro drama is enacted within each locket spelled out by neo-classical symbols – fountains, doves, and plinths. I was prompted to research their significance further and reflect upon the visual literacy of time and to think about them today and whether they hold their value, and what might be contemporary equivalents. The cyanotype method provided the sensitivity appropriate to reflect the object’s historical meaning.
These are cultural objects of the past about human expression of love. This work is about words, pictures, and meaning. These prints explore the difficulty of expressing emotional states through words. The text captioning each locket, does not function as a descriptive illustration or translation, but meant to highlight the metaphorical potential of the locket.
[above text excerpted from full text by Bharti Parmar ]

Bharti Parmar (Birmingham, UK) is a visual artist and researcher at the University of Wolverhampton living in Birmingham, UK. A graduate of the Royal College of Art London, she is currently pursuing her PhD. Parmar has exhibited for the last fifteen years both nationally and internationally work ranging from large-scale photographic installations, artists books, digital photography, to embroidery. She was recently appointed as the Autograph (ABP) Artist in Residence at Light Work. Recent exhibitions include those at Midlands Arts Center in Birmingham, Leeds City Art gallery, the Waterhall Gallery of Modern Art in Birmingham, the New art Gallery in Walsall, and Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Universidade de Sao Paulo. Her work is in many collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.

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