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Bishop’s enigmatic and memorable craft

Monday, December 16, 2013
Bishop also showed off candle holders made from teak and cinnamon and embellished with gold leaf. PHOTOS: BRIAN NG FATT

“Water, I love water. I am always coming back to water,” said Gillian Bishop at the viewing of her latest collection of jewellery at Hotel Normandie two Sundays ago.


Her one-of-a-kind designs in gold and silver with diamonds, opals, moonstones, quartzes and other semi-precious stones evoke waterfalls and streams, seas of green, and light dancing on raindrops.


Pearls and moonstones and green peridots become ripples of light on water or golden glittering streams, represented in brooches and earrings.


But the collection is also about light: the emerging light of dawn in onyx and peridot gold earrings; the illuminating of a pathway in a forest, created with jasper and garnet; and the glittering of stars in a gold and platinum ring with 19 diamonds.


She returns to certain shapes which define her work. The triangle is ever present, standing upwards and signifying strength, power. One outstanding ring is a wavy triangle of yellow gold and platinum with an arc of pave-set diamonds to one side. It was named The Crescent Giltters. I saw a mountain with a waterfall curling down to the valley.


Bishop herself wore a gold triangle with a diamond at the apex, and a magnificent bird of paradise pin, the glorious plumage like spurts of gold. 


Bishop names all her pieces, like people with their own voices and personalities. The Clouds And The Sun Shine Together is a ring of yellow gold with a brilliant blue opal and a twinkling diamond. Then Shall The Righteous Shine Forth As The Sun In The Kingdom Of The Father is a yellow gold and silver pin with a moonstone cabochon. Silver earrings with pink coral teardrops are called The Poui Shines Late This Year.


The names, the colours, the symbolism—they make Bishop’s work memorable, intriguing, enigmatic. Not unlike the lady herself, a woman who craves her privacy, her solitude but who loves deeply and loyally.


The collection (viewing continues until December 22) makes people slow down, to think, to wonder about the designer’s inspiration. There is an unhurried grace to it all. Each piece reads like a thanksgiving, a benediction. 


And Ms Bishop, dressed in royal purple shantung silk and with her lustrous silvery hair swept back, was the high priestess of the temple. “Her Serene Highness,” I called her on opening day. And she threw her head back and laughed.


Bishop’s creations have a mightiness but yet are delicate and almost ephemeral. Look at the opals and moonstones this way and they appear as clouds; take another look, and they become pools of water in the evening light. 


The earrings, pins and bracelets are more than mere decoration but rather stories and the best kind too—the kind where the readers get to interpret the lines to suit themselves and create their own endings. So the pieces are truly unique. None would look the same or mean the same to any two collectors.


My own story is waiting to be told. Perhaps I shall sing praises to the new blue dawn with an aquamarine and diamond ring or capture the red of a sunset in garnet and gold, or embrace the rapture of a silver and agate bracelet that shines, shines, shines as if the whole universe is giving applause.


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