Once upon a time, charms and jewellery acted as amulets to protect against evil.
Joyaviva, an exhibition of "live jewellery" which opens at RMIT Gallery on Friday, 10 February, will recapture the magic as artists from around the Pacific present beautiful objects that recover the power of jewellery and its role in helping people navigate through their lives.
Using innovative concepts, jewellers from Australia, New Zealand and Chile have designed charms that respond to our hopes and fears, ranging from the threat of earthquakes to a child's school exam.
RMIT Gallery Director Suzanne Davies said the exhibition of modern charms would provide a new space for contemporary jewellery as a form of social design.
"The global ubiquity of good luck charms reaches from East to West and is both contemporaneous and historical," Ms Davies said.
"Charms that have warded off evil and marshalled the forces proliferate and are as compelling now as in the past; we hope that all who come to view this show will be empowered by the experience."
Ms Davies said many of the artists in Joyaviva came from areas affected in recent years by earthquakes: the Chile earthquake and tsunami of 2010 and the devastation wrought on Christchurch in 2011.
"The artists have responded directly to the needs of survivors of disasters to reconstruct their confidence in the land on which they live," she said.
Visitors to this exhibition not only have the chance to enjoy the intricate objects, they can also learn intriguing stories about their effect on people's lives. As a "live" exhibition, Joyaviva also welcomes visitors to contribute stories from either their own experience or by using the charms themselves.
Joyaviva curator Kevin Murray said that the exhibition would help rediscover the lost power of jewellery to change people's lives.
"The exhibition features not only the intriguing modern variations on the traditional charm, but also the touching stories of those who have worn them," he said.
Joyaviva begins its two-year journey in Melbourne at RMIT Gallery (10 February - 24 March), before travelling east to New Zealand, Chile, Bolivia and Mexico in 2013. Many international jewellers will be visiting RMIT Gallery for the exhibition opening (Thursday, 9 February, 6pm - 8pm).
For interviews and images: RMIT Gallery Media Coordinator, Evelyn Tsitas, (03) 9925 1716 or 0418 139 015.