Jivan Astfalck

Course Director, MA Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Products

School of Jewellery

Jivan Astfalck is Course Director for our MA Jewellery, Silversmithing and Related Projects course. She combines teaching with studio practice, which she exhibits internationally.

A visual artist, jewellery and academic, Jivan was born in Berlin, where she trained and qualified as a goldsmith. She has lived in the UK for more than twenty years, obtaining an MA in the history and theory of modern art at Chelsea College of Art and Design, and a PhD in fine art at the University of the Arts, London.

Her main focus and research interest is in using hermeneutic philosophy, literary theory and other appropriate thought models as tools to investigate narrative structures embedded in body-related crafts objects. In her view, the convergence of crafts, design and fine art practices is conducive to extending the theoretical vocabulary and map out new territories, where crafts practices contribute to cultural production and dissemination.

Current Activity

Jivan’s artistic research activities focus on wearable and decorative objects which exist out of the margins of a recognised design culture. These objects resonate with intimacy and passionate investment, a ‘folk art’ of our own culture than does not follow a functional design agenda.

Jivan is also interested in jewellery pieces that map out the demarcation lines – where body meets world, a place or idea of a place, and where narratives are invested in objects with the aim to negotiate that gap.

Her research supervision includes contemporary studio crafts, hermeneutic philosophy, gender studies, psychoanalyses, cross-cultural creative practice, and teaching and learning methodologies in creative subjects.

Current projects

Solo exhibition

"A work of jewellery is not only a valuable object in terms of its craft, beauty and materially quantifiable worth, all of which might be translated as 'proper' values – proper in the sense of belonging to the object itself, ie objectively as its own properties. Within narrative jewellery the jewellery object is acknowledged and, in fact, embraced, as an object of non-proper values - of values which find their source in emotional and psychological investments. And with these kinds of investments, value and meaning become slippery and unquantifiable” (Bernice Donzselmann for Jivan Astfalck)

Contemporary Jewellery Exhibition at Central Academy of Fine Arts, CAFA Museum (designed by Arata Isozki), Beijing, China

Fifteen internationally leading jewellers showing alongside Chinese artist jewellers in the first exhibition of contemporary studio jewellery in Beijing, China.

International seminar will be hosted with a series of keynotes presentations, group talks and panel discussions: Jewellery, not only decorative but also spiritual, acts as a bridge and medium of human communication, providing a platform for an international exchange on pioneering topics about jewellery practice and its education. It invites international innovative voices as well as introduces Chinese experience to the world. It will significantly contribute to the further development of Chinese jewellery practice and education.

Recent projects

Lifelines: Myth and Meaning - Learning and Teaching, in ‘Schmuck Denken - unterwegs zu einer Theorie des Schmucks’ / Thinking Jewellery - Towards a Theory of Jewellery, W. Lindeman (ed.), Arnoldsche Art Publishers, Stuttgart & New York, 2011

The book chapter was one of the outcomes of an extensive research process since 2004. At first initiated by recognising the need to explore already established research concerns in a wider application than the researcher’s own studio practice and to subsequently facilitate a recognised need of jewellery students to engage with their design practice in a narrative and self-reflective context that introduced critical practice in a non-threatening manner.

The installation concept was based on ideas formulated by Claude Levi-Strauss that regard myths as a system that codifies knowledge based on an understanding of reality, that links fundamental cosmology with everyday experience; a structured system of signifiers. In that respect narrative exploration provided the motivation for the designing and making of artefacts and provided a strategy to engage students with social and relational aspects of artistic production and to enhance their ability to position their work with reference to diverse social, cultural and interpretative issues that exist between a subjective artistic position, a wider cultural context and the production of contemporary decorative objects.

Beneath the Skin: revealing the research that underpins the object
Exhibition at SIA, Sheffield Hallam University, UK, 2011 and Marzee Gallery, Netherlands, 2012 and CAA, London, 2013
Catalogue Beneath the Skin, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield UK, 2011

The exhibition, curated by Maria Hanson, Sheffield Hallam University, brought together a number of key academic researchers working within the field of contemporary metalwork and jewellery in order to systematically reveal the research that underpins the object(s).

The aim of the exhibition was to visualise and articulate the complex, multi-faceted and often non-linear creative journey that individual researchers make to get to the final object. By presenting a range of tangible textual and non-textual material, Beneath the Skin aimed to elicit and reveal the knowledge embodied by the object and proposed that there are intangible aspects within creative research that are not possible to quantify.


Bradshaw-Heap, L., Darbourne, R., Astfalck, J. (2016). JUNK – Rubbish to Gold, ISBN number 978-1-904839-86-6

Lifelines, in ‘SchmuckDenken’, W. Lindemann (Hg.) & FH Trier | Idar-Oberstein, Arnoldsche Arts Publishers, Germany, ISBN: 978-3-89790-326-5

TableManners, in collaboration with Nedda El-Asmar, TR11/01, Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, ISBN 9789490521097

Astfalk, J. (2009) 'Traditional craft: manufactured nostalgia or grass-root resistance?', The Journal of Modern Crafts (online).

Astfalk, J. (2009) The Jeweller’s Compendium, Darling Publication, Cologne, Germany, ISBN 978-3-939130-95-6.

Astfalk, J. (2008) 'Lifelines', The International Journal of the Arts in Society, vol. 3, no. 1, ISSN: 1833-1866.

Astfalk, J. (2008) 'Gravity', Gravity, Gustavsbergs Konsthall, Gustavsbergs Hamn, Sweden.

Catalogue publications (selected)

Astfalk, J. (2012), Transplantation, touring UK and Australia

Astfalk, J. (2011), The Ring, Hnoss Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden and touring Scandinavia

Astfalk, J. (2011), Beneath the Skin, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK

Astfalk, J. (2011), Sexy, Galeria Sztuki, Legnica, Poland

Astfalk, J. (2010), Paradigma 2, UK Innovations, Shanghai and Fei Liu Gallery Beijing,

Astfalk, J. (2009), Paradigma 1, Atrium Gallery; Escola Massana, Barcelona

Astfalk, J. (2009), The Sting of Passion, Manchester Arts Galleries

Astfalk, J. (2009), The Jeweller’s Compendium, Darling Publication, Cologne, Germany

Astfalk, J. (2009), Escape, Galerija Meno Nisa, Vilnius, Lithuania

Astfalk, J. (2008), Masters and  Protégés - Contemporary British Jewellery

Astfalk, J. (2008), Horror Vacui, Forum fuer Schmuck und Design, Germany

Astfalk, J. (2008), Beauty of the Lost, Jiang Jieng (ed.), Gallery Starspace, AIVA, Shanghai

Work has been reviewed in (selected)

Various web-sites and blogs

Artist’s Newsletter, UK

Art Review , UK

Crafts, UK

Designboom, Milan, Italy

Design News, Sweden

El Pais, Spain

Form, Sweden

Kunsthandverk, Norway

Kunsthandwerk and Design, Germany

Kwintessens, Belgium

Metalsmith, USA

Shanghai Daily, China

Vogue, Germany

Selected conference papers

Astfalk, J. (2012) 'Thinking Materials - Forming Ideas 2', Wissenschaft and Kunst (science and art), SchmuckDenken 8, Fachhochschule Trier, Idar-Oberstein, Germany

Astfalk, J. (2011) 'Thinking Materials - Forming Ideas 1', Triennale for Contemporary Jewellery, World Crafts Council, Mons, Belgium

Astfalk, J. (2010) 'Craft and Language', Forming Ideas, ArtProjects and Solutions and Craftspace and Yorkshire Artspace

Astfalk, J. (2010), The Graft of MEaning, Royal Academy of Fine Art Antwerp, Belgium

Astfalk, J. (2009), Narrabesques, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Birmingham City University

Astfalk, J. (2009), Chair of International Symposium The Sting of Passion, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

Astfalk, J. (2009), 'Graft of MEaning', The Sting of Passion International Symposium, Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

Astfalk, J. (2008), Narrative Structures, at AR.CO - Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual, Lisbon

Selected Commissions

Astfalk, J. (2009), The Sting of Passion, Manchester Arts Galleries 


2012 (forthcoming)  Re:jewelry, Central Academy of Fine Arts, CAFA Museum, Beijing

2012 Mirror Mirror, Espace Solidor, Cagnes-sur-mer, France

2012 Transplantation, touring UK and Australia

2011 The Ring, Hnoss Gallery, Gothenburg, Sweden & Museum of Applied Art and Design, Tallin, Estonia

2011 Sexy, Galeria Sztuki, Legnica, Poland

2011 Beneath the Skin, Sheffield Hallam University, UK and Marzee Gallery, Netherlands

2010 Gustav, A.F.Vandevorst and Hoet Bekaert Gallery, Zoutelaan Knokke, Belgium

2010 Paradigma 2, Fei Liu Gallery, Beijing and British Council at Expo Shanghai   

2010 Gold by…, Caroline van Hoek Gallery at Object Rotterdam, Netherlands  

2009 Paradigma 1, Atrium Gallery and Escola Massana, Barcelona

2009 The Sting of Passion, Manchester Arts Galleries

2009 Love Zoo, Caroline van Hoek Galerie, Brussels, Belgium

2009 In Their Own Words Too (ITOW 2), Bank Street Gallery, Sheffield, UK

2009 Escape, Galerija Meno Nisa, Vilnius, Lithuania

2008 Masters and  Protégés, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Itami, Japan and Mikimoto Hall, Tokyo, Japan

2008 Horror Vacui, Forum für Schmuck and Design, Germany

2008 Animal, Gallery Norsu, Helsinki, Finland and Gallerie Beatrice Lang, Berne, Switzerland and Platina Galerie, Stockholm

2008 Beauty of the Lost: Contemporary Jewellery and Visual Art, Gallery Starspace, AIVA, Shanghai