When I was in design college my class was given an assignment to make a piece of jewellery in a presentation box that could be given from a representative from one country to another. We were all asked to pull a country’s name from a hat. I got Poland.
The assignment required that we all some research about the country we were given.
I knew nothing about Poland before I did my assignment and I was really amazed at how bloody and troubled Poland’s history had been. Being between Germany, Sweden, France and Russia has been a curse for the Polish people and it’s amazing that Poland has lasted over the centuries.
The jewellery is made up of various symbols from Polish history. I made the brooch in a rough manner so it would like something made by the common person. I wanted it to communicate that it was a heartfelt gift from one people to another people and not some meaningless bauble from one dignitary to another.
The background cross comes from a medieval knight’s belt and is made from titanium representing the strength of the Christian faith in Poland. The silver wings are from 17th century cavalry armour when Poland had the best cavalry in Europe and they represent the Polish fighting spirit. The amber in the middle has been fashioned to look like an electrical resistor and represents the Polish resistance to the Soviet Union.
The box is covered with red shellac to represent all the blood that has been spilt and the names around the opening are the names of battles where the Poles have been triumphant. I tried to give the whole thing a medieval look, as though it is the reliquiae of the Polish spirit that has been kept safe through all that Poland has gone through and suffered.
We also had to produce a background poster to go behind the jewellery when it was displayed at the end of the year.