Marijke De Cock lives and works in Antwerp, where she previously studied Fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. She has been working for years as a designer within the team of Dries Van Noten, where she specialises, among other things, in the conception and creation of exceptional ornaments and jewellery. An engagement that in a sense inspired her personal practice, by adopting an established craft that is usually related to the garment it is meant to serve, yet which she allows to function autonomously and in full. It is an ancient and traditional, time-consuming technique – involving working with glass beads and passed from generation to generation – which she sensibly juxtaposes with her fascination for the hand that, as it were, moves by itself, seems to make its own decisions, and transcends thought. It all together manifests itself in distinctive series of abstracted, intuitive wall sculptures which, adorned with beads, above all celebrate the desire to create, using a material that goes back thousands of years, motivating us from childhood onwards to invent ornaments with it, to embellish a person or a place.

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I. In the works of Marijke De Cock, the act resonates.

A resonance which implies that it is the involvement of hands that shapes and determines them.

Starting with the individual hand that holds the pencil and draws the lines, moves free from thinking, from any need to mirror a reality in which the drawing is made. A hand that generates an intuitive, almost automatic vocabulary of form, that doodles in accordance with the nature of a moment.

It makes the drawings that in the end, appear as autonomous, substantial bodies, in essence a record of a journey. Beginning when the pencil tip touches the paper, to then continue as if by itself, creating loops and patterns, defining a universe of its own. Drawings that mark an ephemeral presence in time and space, that foster a dedicated meditation excused from efficiency or utility, instead exploring its own quality and range. Drawings that are vital, springing from the human need to create, to be in motion and, as such, to exist.

II. An intimate act which is then shared and made collective.

Through a mutually caring collaboration with a group of people who, in their native India, continue a traditional craft that has been practised for centuries. They study the provided drawing, explore it like a map to an imaginative destination. Then, guided by Marijke’s directions, they turn it into a tangible object that, laced with an abundance of glass beads, becomes something new entirely, proves to be a piece of jewellery: an adornment.

A process the group carries out manually. Their respective hands attuned to each other, their movements following the rhythms and routines of generations. They are experienced in working with artists and designers, in striving together for excellence in perfection. Even if that perfection, as in this case, lies in the imperfection. In the preservation of an odd, irregular line that says more than it does when smoothed out. They bring something to life, transform a swift, nearly instinctively developed blueprint into a physical piece with its own weight and size. They build a single structure delicately composed of innumerable tiny stiches and beads.

III. To finally return to being a personal act again.

A concluding phase carried out by two pairs of hands that understand each other through and through, belonging to a duo who share a life and an ambition. Four committed hands that take care of the materialised drawing and provide it with a tailor-made, wooden backing, different each time. Until a bas-relief emerges that subtly rises from the even surface of a wall, comes to the fore, requests attention.

Albeit a humble request: an open invitation to observe attentively, to witness that what was made with devotion, awakens devotion. With the gaze that first appreciates the work as a whole, following its curves and twists, the vividness of its colour and scale. Then to become absorbed in it, to surrender to the countless glass beads that, depending on their position and direction, catch and reflect the light both simultaneously and separately. How they enrich a room with an elegant, magnetizing display, with an entrancing landscape composed of an infinity of physical pixel-like dots.  

© 2024. marijkedecock