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Plečnik in the mirror: the spirit of the great architect captured in pieces of unique jewellery

An exhibition of jewellery, photos and videos in the Glass Atrium of the Town Hall

In the Glass Atrium of the Ljubljana Town hall, young designer Martina Lončar presents the unique jewellery she has created inspired by the work of architect Jože Plečnik. A trace of Plečnik’s brilliant solutions can be found in each piece of jewellery, whether it be the larger architectures or the details he thoughtfully designed for his own home.

Transformer, for example, which can be worn as a necklace, a pendant or a ring, resembles the multi-purpose chair from the architect’s kitchen. Bunka captures the memory of the lights in the Devil’s Courtyard of the Križanke theatre in Ljubljana, while Hertz reflects the splendour and mystique of its sacral decorative elements. Like Plečnik, who often used unconventional materials, Martina Lončar also combines precious metals with unusual materials such as cement or electrical circuitry. In Plečnik’s spirit of recycling and re-using, the jewellery is exhibited atop pieces of old furniture, in an attempt to create the homey atmosphere the artist so appreciated.

Martina Lončar, Photo: Tjaša Gnezda

The “feeling” of mystery and holiness created with the use of light

In the jewellery-making process, Martina focused on researching and understanding the way Plečnik created a “feeling” of mystery and holiness using light and the colour of lamps, which is an integral part of both. She devoted special attention to her use of materials. Her jewellery is particularly contemporary and characterized by her experimenting with diverse materials that Plečnik particularly liked: gold-plated brass, copper, terrazzo, cement, and polished semi-circular stones like cabochon. She draws from the details that Plečnik designed for his own home. According to her understanding of Plečnik and his work, he was both a good and versatile designer.

He designed uncompromising pieces of furniture for his home and paid special attention to their functionality. As a result, the chair by the stove in his kitchen served not only as a chair, but as a table and a small closet as well. Another example is his placement of the sink in the kitchen – in the corner, which enabled him to make good use of all of the available space. And his closet in the bathroom, into which he installed two folding shelves, which could unfold as needed …

Most of the exhibits are unique, and all of them are decidedly suitable for wearing. Some can be worn every day, and others on special occasions. Certain pieces will surely speak to passers-by, while others will relate their story in silence. In addition to Plečnik’s town planning, which changed everyday life in the centre of Ljubljana, some of what he did and left behind is also intangible. Among other things, he conveyed the idea that you can make something powerful and everlasting with reusable, cheap and affordable materials. The exhibition Plečnik in the Mirror was on show until April 10th.

Transformer necklace, in silver, white gold, pearls, onyx, 2015 Photo: Personal archives

Text by Vesna Žarkovič