Wendy’s World | A Tribute to Wendy Ramshaw | Part Two

22 April 2020

Picasso's Ladies Series

This May The Scottish Gallery hosts an online tribute to Wendy Ramshaw CBE, RDI (1939-2018) – Wendy’s World where you can view available works including Ramshaw’s signature ringsets.

We have also produced a series of blogs that take you through Wendy’s illustrious career in her own words. Please enjoy part two that focuses on the Picasso’s Ladies Series.

Wendy Ramshaw in her studio, c.1981

Wendy Ramshaw worked for ten years from 1989 to 1998 on a large collection titled Picasso’s Ladies. This collection was then exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1998-1999. The pieces that made up the collection were designed as personal responses to 66 paintings, drawings and prints by Picasso which portrayed or were inspired by the women in his life.

A Jeweller's words

‘For some years I have been thinking of the possibility of working with a series of portraits of women. Picasso immediately occupied my mind and began to spark my imagination. I had many of his pictures in my vast collection of postcards bought in museums all over the world and I began to buy more of them, especially the portraits, wherever I saw them. From these I selected images of women which expressed their beauty and their individuality. They seemed content and self-possessed, relaxed and at ease with themselves and the world.’

Set of Rings for Portrait of Dora Maar, Picasso's Ladies Series (14 part), 1990, 18ct yellow gold, fire opal, cornelian garnet, citrine, ruby, enamel, inlaid brass stand
Ringset for Woman Sitting in an Armchair, Picasso's Ladies Series, 1990-1991, silver 18ct yellow gold, 9ct red gold; nickel alloy stand

Amongst these painted ladies were Picasso’s favourite models and women with whom he had emotional relationships. I looked for the images which would inspire a piece of jewellery. It might be the sense of rhythm and form and flow of lines, the dispersion or choice of colour or just the sheer presence of a woman on the canvas.

Woman Ironing Chain of Stones Neckpiece, Picasso's Ladies Series, 1991, silver gilt and cubic zirconium, L58 cm
Glittering Hearts Earrings & Ring for Woman with Yellow Hair, Picasso's Ladies Series, 1991, cubic zirconia, 18ct yellow gold

‘I began to see how showing both eyes in a profile made for a wider distance between the bridge of the nose and the hairline above the ear. I saw how this wider area affected the back of the head and neck until the distortion was assimilated and rebalanced within the image. It was like magic. I was given new proportions to work with, this combined with the emotional power within each image worked to spark pieces of jewellery. Each was inspired by a portrait. Some enabled me to redevelop a form like the ‘ring set’ and expand upon its theme.’

Collection of Jewellery for Time Spent on the Beach, Picasso's Ladies Series, 1998, silver, gold, sand jasper, agate; painted wooden cones

Chain of Glass Tears for ‘Weeping Woman’ by Pablo Picasso (1937)

‘The inspiration for the shape of the tears came from a segment of mauve glass with a droplet-like shape which was once part of a Victorian chandelier. This water-shaped form was recreated in luminous glass in shades of blue and green. The double-stranded necklace is strung to appear like a cascade of water droplets. Over 100 of these glass droplets are hung on the steel of the necklace, achieving an apparently random effect. The necklace expresses my feelings for the beautiful Dora Maar, who, according to the visual records of Picasso, wept many tears. The beauty of the colours may detract from the sadness of her crying. Dora Maar’s tears are lifted into another realm, as one might find in a fairy tale, which might not necessarily be a happy ending.’

– Wendy Ramshaw, p168, Picasso’s Ladies Jewellery by Wendy Ramshaw, published Arnoldsche, 1998

Chain of Glass Tears for 'Weeping Woman' Picasso's Ladies Series, 1998, glass steel

Explore Wendy's world

Below we bring you an audio and visual podcast exploring the life and work of Wendy Ramshaw, CBE, RDI (1939-2018), narrated by Christina Jansen.

The Gallery has exhibited some of Wendy’s most ambitious ideas through exhibitions such as Picasso’s Ladies (1989), Rooms of Dreams (2002), Prospero’s Table (2004) and a Journey Through Glass (2007). Rooms of Dreams was designed and created as a theatrical stage set for the jewellery.

Rooms have many different functions and are furnished to answer these. Room of Dreams like all rooms, has furniture; it has pictures and objects. A table, a chair; a cabinet of curiosities, a light fitting. These most basic of elements are imagined anew, in glass, wood and steel. Each are objects in their own right yet all offer a perspective on Room of Dreams and its many functions.

‘The idea of taking part of a dream or fairytale as an inspiration… I worked on my exhibition Picasso’s Ladies for a ten-year period and saw that Picasso chose to do what he wished on any given day, changing his ways of working both technically and aesthetically throughout his life. He was free. When I conceived the idea of the Room of Dreams I was free. I had no idea what the response of others might be. I simply went ahead for myself alone, and for The Scottish Gallery of course.’

– Wendy Ramshaw in conversation with Beatriz Chadour Sampson, p131, Rooms of Dreams, published 2012, The Harley Gallery & Ruthin Craft Centre

publications available

For further reading you may wish to explore three publications that are available to purchase on our website. A Life’s Partnership (below left) presents a beautifully illustrated career with archive images and quotes from Wendy Ramshaw herself. Wendy Ramshaw The Scottish Gallery Collection (below right) allows you to explore works available to purchase at The Scottish Gallery and for the duration of this exhibition it is at the special price of £10. Rooms of Dreams (lower right) is a fully illustrated book with contributions from writers, curators and poets, originally published to coincide with the exhibition Rooms of Dreams in 2002.

For further details discover our online tribute to Wendy Ramshaw – Wendy’s World where you can view available works including Ramshaw’s signature ringsets.

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