Re_Thinking Granulation: The Metamorphic Ornament_PhD-thesis_2010

- Huycke, D., 2010, Re-Thinking Granulation: The Metamorphic Ornament. Doctoraat in de Beeldende Kunst, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Universiteit Hasselt, 2005-2010 (verdediging Z33 Hasselt, 24/09/2010)




The doctoral practice-based research project in the arts The Metamorphic Ornament: Re_Thinking Granulation questions granulation, considered one of the most magical ornamental techniques in the history of goldsmithing, from an artistic point of view. Rather than the actual technique of granulation itself, which is the starting point and source of inspiration, the main contentof research is the process of transformation, whereby techniques and concepts from one discipline, the art of goldsmithing are implemented in another discipline, sculptural silversmithing.

Since the moment of its conception granulation has been found in jewelry as a surface application and has rarely been used for structural purposes. From this knowledge the first point of departure emerged, which explores the possibilities of structural granulation in sculptural silverwork. From this perspective the granule - the original ornament - loses its primary, decorative function of pure visual pleasure and shifts into the essential building material of the object. Granulation becomes the texture, the structure as well as the architectural support of the work.

Alongside this rather technical inquiry, a second, more conceptual starting point arose in which the expressive potential of granulation was explored. In this context granulation evolves from a decorative or constructive technique into subject matter and concept, reaching beyond the technical applications of the process towards a more poetic dimension.

Parallel to these questions the whole research and artistic output was divided into two groups. The first group concentrated on objects that were really build up with granules and the second group on objects where the ‘world’ of granulation with its technical, formal and conceptual constructs is more used as an idea in the subject matter than it is actually present in the object itself.

The outcome of this research is twofold: one is an exhibition body of work resulting in 40 objects, and the second, a written doctoral thesis, developed in interaction with the artistic practice, wherein the intellectual, artistic and practical processes, imperative to the artistic work, were substantiated.