Monday, 27 April 2009

Candescent on Flickr

In March of this year I travelled to Colombia for a month to research for The Candescent Project's forthcoming exhibition called Green Gold.

My trip had a 'thread of gold' running through it, from Cartagena, the former treasury of Colonial Spain, to Bogotá with its magnificent Gold Museum, Villa de Leiva & surrounds, home to the legend of 'El Dorado' and the Muisca Indians, and Medellin, where the offices of Oro Verde are based. Finally to Chocó, to visit the Oro Verde gold mines.

I have posted images of my trip on Flickr, and whilst writing this blog, I will highlight some of the images and the story behind them. I will also write about the creation of the piece of jewellery that is being made for the exhibition and update on the progress of the painting. It will be a tale of Colombia and my search for a beautiful, ethical piece of jewellery..

Here is a link to my images of Colombia on Flickr. © Tanya Bowd

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Cordaid & CAFOD

The Green Gold exhibition has been made possible by the kind support of Cordaid and CAFOD.

Cordaid is a Dutch international development organisation structured around four programmes: Participation, Emergency Aid and Reconstruction, Health and Well-being and Entreprenuership.

CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, working with communities in over 50 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, supporting people to find their own solutions to poverty. The agency works with all people regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality, acting on principles of compassion, solidarity, stewardship and hope.

In 2008 CAFOD toured a photographic exhibition called 'Pure Gold?' which revealed a less than glamorous side to gold. It highlighted mining activities in three continents that have contibuted to a cycle of poverty and violence, where water supplies have been poisoned, and the environment and culture of people have been destroyed.

The exhibition Green Gold concentrates on the positive aspects of responsible, small-scale mining. By profiling the Oro Verde programme in Colombia, the exhibition serves to highlight the social and environmental benefits that responsible mining brings, and its application as a model for other small-scale mines around the world to adopt.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Respond! An RSA Arts & Ecology Initiative

The RSA Arts and Ecology Centre is an organisation whose role is to catalyse, publicise, challenge and support artists who are responding to the environmental challenges of our time. Respond! is an RSA Arts & Ecology Initiative held for the duration of June 09 to highlight nationwide events, exhibitions, talks and projects in the UK that demonstrate the arts’ engagement with environmental issues.

In London, The Candescent Project exhibition Green Gold is featured alongside events and exhibitions at various venues including the Barbican Centre, Natural History Museum and Cape Farewell.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Coutts London Jewellery Week

The Candescent Project exhibition is part of Coutts London Jewellery Week 8th- 14th June 09. Now in its second year, the week highlights the work of jewellers, both established and new, at various venues in London. This year there is a museum trail with the V&A, British Museum, Museum of London and Fashion & Textile Museum showcasing jewellery collections. The Green Gold exhibition will be on for the week's duration at the Art Workers Guild in Queens Square, Bloomsbury, London.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Art Workers Guild

The exhibition Green Gold is to be held at the Art Workers Guild, in Bloomsbury, London, which was established in 1884 by a group of young architects associated with the ideas of William Morrris and the Arts and Crafts Movement. The Guild is a society of artists, craftspeople and designers, with many of its current members upholding long-established traditions of workmanship and a desire to contribute to the community. The Guild's members range from animators to architects and mosaic artists to printmakers. There is a reference library and a large number of events are held, from lectures to exhibitions.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Ronald de Hommel

Ronald de Hommel is a freelance photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Paris, France. Recently he has worked mainly in Latin America and the Middle East. He is currently working on several worldwide projects, as well as on assignments for Dutch and international magazines and NGO's. Part of his work is represented by photo agency ANP Photo.

The Candescent Project 'Green Gold' will feature some of Ronald's photographs of the Oro Verde programme.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Kike Arnal

Photographic portraits of Oro Verde miners by Kike Arnal will accompany the Green Gold exhibition. Kike is a still photographer and videographer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and Life magazine. Originally from Venezuela and now based in the San Francisco Bay area, Kike has covered stories in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Francis Martin

Francis works as a fine and applied artist on private commissions and feature film productions, and his work includes portraiture and still life. For the exhibition Francis is creating a painting inspired by trompe l’oeil featuring elements of Colombia and Oro Verde, based on my visit to Colombia in March.

A Trompe l'oeil painting by Francis for Chelsea Farmers Market

Trompe l'oeil is an art technique involving extremely realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects appear in three-dimensions, instead of actually being a two-dimensional painting.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Stacey Whale

The Candescent Project has commissioned jeweller Stacey Whale to create pieces for the Green Gold exhibition, using gold sourced from Oro Verde and fair trade gems from Columbia Gem House. Stacey's award winning, innovative and original jewellery uses a variety of precious stones and lenses and is handcrafted using gold and silver.

With funding from Cordaid and CAFOD, The Candescent Project sponsored jeweller Stacey Whale to visit Colombia in March to assist with the development and research process of the jewellery for the exhibition. Together we visited the Gold Museum in Bogotá and the artistic community of Villa de Leiva.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Candescent Project

With an interest in sustainability and the environment, Candescent creates objects that are not only beautiful to look at but have a story to tell. Candescent seeks to educate and inform through interesting and thought-provoking subjects, empowering people with knowledge to enable change.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Oro Verde ® (Green Gold)

Oro Verde ® (Green Gold) is the first initiative to certify responsibly mined artisanal metals. Based in the verdant, rainforest region of Chocó in Colombia, Oro Verde ® comprises of mining families in the municipalities of Tado and Condoto. Ensuring that working practices are fair and environmentally friendly, miners receive a premium for the ‘green’ gold, which is re-invested back into the community, and employ a method of extracting the gold that does not involve the use of mercury and cyanide.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

The People of El Chocó

In the Department of Chocó , 85% of the population are Afro-Colombian, descendents of Africans brought to the region by the Spanish to work the mines in the first decade of the sixteenth century. The Afro-Colombian community has a rich social and cultural heritage, which finds expression through music, language and dance.

In 1991 the Colombia Constitution gave Afro-Colombians the right to collective ownership of traditional Pacific coastal lands and to special cultural considerations. Despite the wealth of natural resources and preservation of ancestral traditions and culture, 82% of the population live with unsatisfied basic needs. Large companies have reaped the wealth of the mining and forestry resources, leaving the people with extremely poor living conditions, the poorest in the country, whilst the armed conflict in Colombia has served to displace a large percentage of the population.

A part of the population in Chocó are comprised of the Indigenous Native Indians called the Embera. The Embera are Colombia's third largest indigenous group with an estimated population of around 71,000. Mainly hunters and gatherers, they are a nomadic people found in different regions of the country although half of the population resides in Chocó. The Embera are also being displaced by the armed conflict.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Chocó Biodiversity Hotspot

Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena is one of 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Identified by British Ecologist Norman Myers, hotspots are the richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth.

There are an estimated 11,000 plant species found in this hotspot, about 2,750 (25 percent) of which are endemic. Of these 5,000 are found in the Colombian Chocó. Endemic birds comprise more than 100 species. The hotspot includes a wide variety of habitats, ranging from mangroves, beaches, rocky shorelines, and coastal wilderness to some of the world's wettest rain forests.

The major threat to this region is deforestation, with the industrial production of African palm oil, uncontrolled gold mining and illegal growing of coca adding to the list of causes of deforestation.

Aerial view of Chocó as seen from my Satena flight to Quibdo

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Department of Chocó, Colombia

My search for green gold, that is gold that has been mined without the use of mercury and cyanide, took me to the Department of Chocó in Colombia, South America.

The Chocó biogeographic region, which has been recognized internationally as one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet, stretches along the Northwestern edge of South America from Southern Panama to Northwestern Ecuador.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Green Gold Exhibition

A Candescent Project exhibition 'Green Gold' is part of Coutts London Jewellery Week 8-14th June 09 and Respond! An RSA Arts & Ecology Initiative. Funded by Cordaid & CAFOD.