To put to body is not insignificant… The Tila collection as seen by two art historians, jewelry specialists…

Small Kingfisher necklace, silver, oxidized silver, vermeil, old Venetian pearl called "Fancy"

Carrying what you put on the wall, on a pedestal, changes the paradigms.

In her admiration for African culture, Valérie Bui shares myths and materials on totem jewelry.  She gives them back their meaning, brings them the mystery of the material. Authentic beads, selected for their history, link the past to the present and fertilize the jewel thus created. She activates the object by this transfer which is rooted in a true knowledge beyond the aesthetic appeal. The intention is to anchor her talisman, her lucky charm, on a tradition made alive. The jewel is perceived in the aura of the culture that surrounds it.  This perception is all the more vivid as it is staged and presented during exhibitions in resonance with ancient fetishes. There is no more innocence to wear, the object and the body are activated.

Collected for twenty years, the ancient beads have become a signature. Valérie Bui adds to them the symbols of metaphysical transhumance: the parakeet is an intercessor through its gift of speech, the kingfisher is a navigator between two worlds, between the air and the water. Reduced to their skulls alone, the quality of workmanship and intention transcend the jewel. And in this given power, the ring is entrusted with your secrets; Valerie Bui follows a ritual, closes the beak with a lock, forces the bird to keep the wish until it is fulfilled and the magic happens. In the African tradition, the sculpture locked by padlocks is named with a command: “shut your mouth”.

To be in body puts you in echo, in “penetrance” and gives strength in this lightness of the habit, of the everydayness of the carried. The body becomes a partner in this projection. Carrying in the reference to the past object its imaginary and the meaning that each one places there, it activates the memory of it: of reported, it becomes personal. The power of Valérie Bui’s jewels is to incorporate this timelessness, to put in connection with ourselves, our anxieties, our fears and our hopes, in what is vital: energy.

Michèle Heuzé
Historian of jewelry

Small Kingfisher cuff, silver, glass bead from Nepal

Jewelry and voodoo: a fascinating inspiration

Evocation of a memory, a dream, a journey, wearing a jewel is never insignificant. Thanks to their ornaments, the peoples of the world tell us about their culture and their beliefs. In Valérie Bui’s collection, it is the voodoo universe that is highlighted, through visual quotations and symbols to discover or rediscover. The skull of a kingfisher or that of a parakeet becomes precious by the work of silver, one of the metals whose value has been recognized by history for thousands of years. Their beaks are sometimes maintained by a chain or closed by a padlock… a way to keep for oneself a wish or a secret that the jewel would contain, as do the fetishists of the voodoo world. Added here and there is an ancient glass bead, fashioned by the famous Venetian glass masters, artisans who have been working in the lagoon for hundreds of years, on the island of Murano, and whose colored glass pieces traveled as far as Africa during past centuries.

All these elements, carrying meaning, are mounted on pure and simple lines: fine silver chains support the almost magical charge of what Valerie Bui calls her “fetish jewelry”. If the skull of the kingfisher is delicately placed on a cuff of geometric structure, it is as if to better highlight the value of the message it supports.

Presented in conjunction with an African art gallery, these jewels remind us that an ornament is part of a story, that of the culture that created or inspired it, but also that of the person who will wear it and perhaps give it a different meaning. A confrontation between ancient voodoo art and contemporary jewels that happily forces us to redefine what jewelry is, full of complex and fascinating symbols, even keeping a part of mystery.

Gislain Aucremanne
Professor at the School of Jewelry Arts (with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels) Art Historian, Specialist in Ancient Jewels