Art Dubai 2011: Van Cleef & Arpels Reveals ‘Les Voyages Extraordinaires’

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Art Dubai: Heaven on earth for creative types who can binge on the 82 galleries from 34 countries, more than 500 artists and the 50 museum groups who have come together to celebrate an industry that has been tested to the limit in the past two years.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, celebrated luxury jeweller Van Cleef and Arpels used the platform to debut Les Voyages Extraordinaires, a collection inspired by the works of the 19th century novelist Jules Verne. Based on four of Verne’s most famous works: Five Months in a Balloon, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and From Earth to the Moon.

The exhibition is a stroll through the whimsical landscape of Verne’s imagination. Well before the industrial evolution of present day, Verne’s tales of travelling under the sea and to the moon were ground breaking concepts, so the Van Cleef & Arpels interpretation are the characters and settings realised.

Some of the pieces are adorned with precious stones depicting a tropical jungle alive with Birds of Paradise, Lemurs and Elephants all painstakingly created into a high jewellery piece. The ‘Stromboli’ necklace is another vision captured. Depicting a volcano in eruption, the river flowing lava is represented by a broad ribbon of yellow and white diamonds, while the neck loop in in purple sapphires and diamonds depicts the volcanic rock, the cold lava.

In the heart of the exhibition, visitors are shown around L’Atelier, a reproduction of the Paris workshop where the high jewellery collection is produced. The painstaking and rigorous production of each piece becomes clear. Each piece goes through a process of initial design, wax sculpture, selection and setting of the stones and right through the final polishing – a process that can take years to complete. In hushed enclaves, much like an undersea fantasy, those who are looking to buy have the option to view each piece and see the exquisite craftsmanship up close.

Reiterating their commitment to all art forms and the support of worthwhile philanthropy, Van Cleef & Arpels have partnered with START, a non-profit organisation established by Art Dubai and the Al Madad Foundation which applies the universal language of art to heal, educate and enrich the skills and opportunities of children in the poorest areas of the Middle East. Two pieces are on sale in aid of the foundation: Lacquered butterfly clips, one golden brown in colour, the other a bold black, a day and a night butterfly. A symbol of lightness, the butterfly is the perfect mascot for this truly exceptional exhibition.

The Van Cleef & Arpels ‘Les Voyages Extraordinaires’ can be viewed at the Madinat Arena until 19 March.

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