Bliss alludes to the "three wise monkeys" in the well-known maxim, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". Despite the title, it doesn't take long to note that the mood is anything but ecstatic; a degree of unease exists beyond the obvious playfulness apparent in the first glance. The monkeys' aping gestures and blank smiles signal the artist's interest in the psychological state of the human condition - its propensity to opt for superficiality and disinterest.
The juxtaposition of small and large is significant in Bliss, as is the use of contrasting materials such as wool and silver. Our relationship to the small, "cute" primates is different to the "friendly", life-sized companions - perfectly sized to mirror human fallibility. Similarly, our response to the soft toys contrasts with our reading of the jewellery. In these "serious" objects, mimicry has also been employed - so, although imitative at first glance, their functionality has been subverted by the artist. The artist wants us to look closely and question the hard truth of what we see. Each monkey is paired with a recognisable object made from sterling silver: a non-functional hearing aid, a pacifier, and a monocle. Although these items can be worn on the body - for some of us they demand a rethinking about the criteria used to define jewellery.
The selection and arrangement of the soft and hard objects engages the viewer in play; we are encouraged to "monkey around". Ultimately, the recognition of these objects as jewellery, signals a level of acceptance - possibly even a readiness for action.
Stella Chrysostomou is a conceptual jeweller based in Nelson.