Deceptively Black and White - Jennifer Cowan

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London View Inspiration Details

Artist Statement

Jennifer Cowan

For the “inspired by” competition, I was immediately drawn to the 1930’s fire basket. I am a fan of Art Deco across the board; I love the architecture, fashion, artwork, furniture etc, even though it is vintage it appeals to me as timeless statements. I am learning Jewellery and silver smithing as part of SCOLA evening classes, and I was able to see straight away how the fire basket could be translated into a pendant. What I wanted to achieve with this piece was to be in keeping with the artist’s original concept. Their design was to mock societies’ ability to focus on other people’s life, to be two faced, catty and spread gossip. The original commission was for a couple who were perceived on the outside of societies’ sense of normal as they were famously in a ménage a trois.

With similar sentiment, I constructed a piece that was essentially black and white, but have them reversed so that the black panthers are silver and the silver moon is black. This depicts that there will always be a type of contradiction within any constraints - even if society removes the grey areas, the world is still not as one would expect given just binary options.

The male and female panthers were carved out of wax and cast in silver. Originally I considered press forming the panthers but realised that the look I wanted was better achieved with wax. The bezel of the onyx cabochon was a nod to the basket whilst adding detail to the reverse side of the pendant, should the pendant rotate while being worn, one can see there is more to it than originally meets the eye.

Deceptively Black and White - Jennifer Cowan

©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Inspiration details:

The Melchett Fire Basket

Fire basket



Charles Sargeant Jagger

Cast Iron

V&A collection reference number(s):

Exhibition Guide

Please wait