Irthi-Bulgari exhibition brings rare Talli and heritage jewellery in unique cultural dialogue between Sharjah and Rome
Over 50 years of treasures from Bulgari Heritage Collection and 35-year-old Emirati ‘Talli’ creations pay tribute to artistic heritage of respective cultures
Sharjah, 17 November 2022
Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Chairperson of Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, Irthi has inaugurated for the first time in the UAE and the MENA region, a unique exhibition showcasing the vibrant creativity of Bulgari’s exceptional heritage jewellery from the late 1950s until today, alongside contemporary and 35-year-old Emirati ‘Talli’ artefacts, rooted in the culture and heritage of the UAE and hand-made by Emirati artisans at Irthi’s Bidwa centre.
The event marks the beginning of a series of exhibitions that Bulgari inaugurated from Sharjah, in line with its firm belief in the emirate’s pivotal role in protecting heritage and the handcraft legacy as well as its efforts to preserve heritage crafts in the UAE and all around the world . The Italian brand is showcasing its ‘Heritage Collection’ in collaboration with Irthi which also supports the cultural heritage through Emirati ‘Talli’ artefacts. The decision to inaugurate Bulgari’s series of global exhibitions in Sharjah is the culmination of the close relationship and collaboration with Irthi for the past few years.
Through this partnership with the Italian luxury brand, Irthi opens doors for a renewed Emirati-Italian cultural dialogue based on the aesthetics and timeless appeal of traditional craftsmanship and inspired by the heritage and creativity of the artisans in Sharjah and Rome.
The initiative featured 41 creations of historical jewellery from Bulgari, encapsulating the most celebrated hallmarks of the Brand’s style – such as the mastery with coloured gemstones, the exquisitely balanced volumes and the motifs inspired by the Eternal City – which were displayed alongside a curated collection of contemporary Talli crafts fused with an inspiring choice of new materials and weaving techniques such as Sayr Yaay’, ‘Al Leed’ and ‘Talli Netted Macrame’ that takes the Emirati craft to new levels of complexity.
The exhibition, inaugurated at The Chedi Al Bait in the historic Heart of Sharjah, marks a new step forward in Irthi’s exceptional journey of preserving traditional crafts and recontextualising them with a contemporary spirit. The mastery over the craft and design language by Emirati artisans at Irthi’s Bidwa centre is evident in the complex and bold creative weaves, crafted with a meticulous eye for detail.
The pieces on display incorporate unique techniques such as ‘Talli Pearled Macrame’, which is a weave hybrid and takes 99 hours to weave just a metre of fabric. Another technique, Janah, which refers to the winged fringes created by leather strips, fashions Baroque pearl within the design to create a handwoven hybrid that ensures the craft’s continuity in the contemporary fashion and textile markets.
Bulgari’s section showcased the Brand’s most emblematic designs: from vibrant, coloured gems artfully shaped to revisit themes from Nature to creations that quote Rome’s architectural magnificence; the timeless elegance of gold and diamonds in rounded contours to modern and eye-catching geometries. Last but not least, the flexuous sinuosity of Serpenti and Tubogas, seamlessly matching wearability with artisanal mastery. These emblems of Italian excellence were favoured by Dolce Vita glamorous icons like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Anita Ekberg, Claudia Cardinale, Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor and many others.
The 1-day exhibition was inaugurated in the presence of n the presence of Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation, and His Excellency Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Department of Government Relations (DGR) in Sharjah, and HE Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement; Lucia Bosciani, Brand and heritage curator for Bulgari, and an elite group of fashion and jewellery designers in the UAE and the region, in addition to government officials and local and international media representatives.
HE Reem binKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “Today’s exhibition, which marks our second collaboration with Bulgari, is an outcome of our efforts to push the boundaries of the diversity of our crafts in the region and open doors for international collaborations to expand the universe of our crafts heritage and its vocabulary. It is an honour to host an exhibition that firmly casts the UAE’s cultural imprint alongside a global brand known for the excellence of its exquisite craftsmanship.”
The NAMA Director added: “Talli has been chosen for its pivotal position in the cultural history of the UAE and due to its historical importance of supporting female Emirati artisans and communities. The contemporary interpretations of Talli developed by Irthi’s Bidwa artisans are ensuring the craft’s continuity into the contemporary markets. Both Bulgari’s jewellery collections and Irthi’s Talli craft pay tribute to the artistic heritage of our distinctive cultures.”
Lucia Bosciani, Brand and heritage curator for Bulgari,said: “This exhibition celebrates the cooperation between Bulgari and Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council. Bulgari is a brand created in 1884 in Italy and our artisanal jewels express Italian creativity and the mastery of our artisans in the medium.”
She added: “As a brand invested in protecting our Italian heritage to secure our future growth, we are happy to cooperate with Irthi, a brand that protects and supports the artisans in creating crafts in line with local heritage, and in the process, gives new life to traditional crafts. This is very much in tune with what Bulgari does. We share common values such as the love for tradition but are always moving forward, always looking at the future.”
Quintessence of Bulgari’s heritage creations
The exhibition showcased 41 timeless jewels from Bulgari’s Heritage Collection which were presented under four broad themes: Master of Colours, Timeless Sparkling, Roman Heritage, and Inspired by Nature.
Notable items in the ‘Master of Colours’ section include a 1959 ‘Giardinetto’ brooch in gold and platinum with sapphires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds, in addition to an ensemble of a necklace and pendant in gold with rubies, sapphires and diamonds, alongside. A selection of 1973 ‘CARRE’ brooches in gold with tourmalines, topazes, rubellites, amethysts, sapphires and diamonds are also part of this segment.
The star attraction in the ‘Timeless Sparkling’ section is the iconic oval fluted Melone Evening Bag of the 1970s with a silk cord and a gem-set thumbpiece that opens to reveal a velvet interior and mirrored lid. Other creations in this part include a bracelet and brooch in gold and diamonds dating to 1967 and a 1965 powder compact case in gold with diamonds. Two brooches set in platinum and diamonds are also featured alongside a Millennia Diadem Millennium Renaissance in white gold with citrizine quartz and diamonds created to mark the turn of the millennium in 2000.
The ‘Roman Heritage’ section pays homage to the eternal city of Rome and some of the iconic jewels in this collection are inspired by the Obelisk in Piazza del Popolo and the pentagonal design of the monumental Castel Sant’Angelo. A convertible sautoir-brooch in gold with cornelian, turquoise and diamonds in the collection dates to 1970 and also features accessories from the Tubogas collection including a choker in three-colour gold from 1983 characterised by rounded seamless contours and flexible sidebands.
For the first time ever on display in the Bulgari Heritage Collection are a Naturalia necklace and bracelet in gold.
Bulgari shapes nature’s perfection with a collection of flora and fauna-inspired brooches in gold with onyx, ruby, sapphires and diamonds from the 1970s under its ‘Inspired by Nature’ theme. The Bulgari icon, Serpenti, which boasts prestigious patrons like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Vreeland are represented with a belt in gold with black enamel and diamonds and a bracelet watch in gold.