Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A World First - Platinum wire Mandela sculpture revealed

Created from platinum wire using an intricate laser-welding technique, a state-of-the-art sculpture of the former South African leader has been revealed by renowned jewellery artist Tom Rucker to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.

On a trip to South Africa in 2009, jewellery designer Tom Rucker was inspired by children in Khayelitsha Township to create a bust of Nelson Mandela. Rucker had been searching for a subject who had significantly influenced world history. The idea came to him in South Africa when he asked a group of children who their hero was. Expecting the children to respond with names of footballers, Rucker was deeply moved when the group shouted out one name, ‘Nelson Mandela’.
Rucker comments that ‘Nelson Mandela has inspired millions of people in the world to live together in peace and freedom. He has dedicated his entire life through his active involvement in resolving conflicts, promoting human rights and in addressing racial issues’.
Rucker’s idea of creating a life-sized, three-dimensional sculpture of a head and face came earlier in the year when he came across a Time magazine cover featuring the visionary architect Buckminster Fuller’s head in a geodesic structure.
The unique structure of the piece is inspired by visionary architect Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome in Montreal. Rucker has worked for a number of years perfecting an intricate laser-welding technique to create similarly hollow and light but very strong jewellery pieces using platinum wire, because of the metal’s strength and durability.
Rucker uses a laser beam to fuse segments with intense heat. Working under a microscope Rucker was able to work without any computer programme to create the face of Mandela. An amazing 1.9 million laser spots were used to create the piece.
The back of the head is made from white biscuit porcelain and the sculpture features eyes set with black diamonds. The artist explains his choice of black and white as symbolising the absence of any one colour, ‘Mandela stands not just for one colour so I have deliberately used black and white which sit outside of the colour spectrum to represent Mandela’s vision of unity’.
The sculpture is due to be revealed by Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape at the International Conference Centre at the Waterfront in Cape Town on 18th July. Tom will give talks on his work and the piece in colleges and universities within the week.
About Tom Rucker
Tom was born in 1970 in Munich, Germany, the 4th generation of a well-established Goldsmiths’ family. Following in the footsteps of his Master Goldsmith father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he started an apprenticeship at the School of Jewellery at Munich’s Luisenschule, graduating as a goldsmith in 1991.
After a series of special advanced courses at several international institutes, he received additional qualifications as a gemologist and diamond expert. In 1995 he was awarded a masters degree from the renowned HBZ in Muenster.
Following his interest in state of the art jewellery manufacturing techniques, in 1995 Tom invested in one of the first laser welding machines on the market specially designed for the jewellery trade. Soon he earned international recognition on his field which brought him to the UK in the late 90s.
In 1997 Tom set up a course in Creative Laser Welding Techniques for Birmingham’s City University, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, the first of its kind, and was the pioneer in the UK to introduce this technique to the jewellery trade. For nearly 10 years he has taught his specialized skills to many students and established jewellery designers.
Since 2006 Tom has based his business in the UK. He mainly works in platinum, alongside 18 carat yellow gold, combined with rare coloured precious stones and diamonds. Tom has received many awards in the last few years for his unique designs and innovative ideas.

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