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'Wing-Wave 2'

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1983 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Watkins, David (designer and maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Neoprene-coated steel and wood

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Contemporary Art Society

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 40, shelf B, box 2

David Watkins began his career as a sculptor and jazz pianist. In the sixties he made his first attempts in jewellery and in the seventies he pioneered the use of computers as a design tool. Music and sculpture feed into his work, which is all about form, rhythm and colour, recently developing into abstract symbols and metaphors. Watkins' oeuvre developed from early miniature sculptures into large-scale wearable objects intended to interact with the body. The concept of art for the body is deeply embedded in his work. Watkins remains firmly committed to modernity.

Watkins explores a wide range of materials, from paper and gold to industrial materials such as steel, aluminium and titanium. He stretches them to their aesthetic and technical limits. For him machine technologies bestow beauty, thus traditional craft and modern technologies can coexist without loss to one another.

'Wing Wave 2' Combination neckpiece (Edition of 2) shows the transition from the purely linear structures of Watkins' work of the previous decade to the neckpieces of the mid-Eighties with planar surfaces of neoprene coated steel and wood. The influence of jazz can be felt throughout his work, especially here where Watkins introduces a dynamic relationship between line and surface, similar to counterpoint in music - two voices within a single entity. Decoration is applied, as never before in his work. Ornaments are turned into codes with symbolic or even metaphorical content. Sun, Sand, Sea and the Cargo cults of the Pacific Islands are the main themes, yet the narrative remains abstract, both in word and image. The scale is reminiscent of male tribal jewellery. When Watkins was interviewed on the pieces of this period being reminiscent of ancient and primitive ritual objects, he replied: 'One reason for this connection must be that I use a very restricted formal vocabulary. When manipulating very simple abstract forms, one accidentally strikes certain historical chords'.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1983 (made)


Watkins, David (designer and maker)

Materials and Techniques

Neoprene-coated steel and wood


Height: 39 cm, Width: 26.5 cm, Depth: 0.5 cm

Descriptive line

'Wing-Wave 2' Combination Neckpiece, neoprene-coated steel and wood neckpiece designed and made by David Watkins, London 1983


Steel; Wood; Neoprene


Jewellery; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project


Metalwork Collection

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