Searching through the Royal College of Art collections, I was always intrigued by a 1954 Wedding Diadem by John Donald originally produced for his degree show. The diadem is made from gilt, enamel, pearl and cubic zirconium. It stood out from the rest of the collection because of the very romantic art nouveau aesthetic.
As much as I liked this object I remained uncertain as to what to do with it until I connected it with two documents which were publicly issued in January 2018. One was a letter issued from a Windsor councillor warning police authorities that the homeless and their detritus ‘presents a beautiful town in a sadly unfavourable light’. He suggests that legal powers should be used to clear the area of homeless before the royal wedding. The second document was the January edition of Hello Magazine which published a seven page article debating which royal tiara Megan Markle will choose for her wedding.I felt these two stories published within a few weeks of each other showed the two extremes of wealth and social dilemmas surrounding the wedding.
In response to the councils letter I collected my own street detritus including tin cans, beer tops, rubber bands, confetti, crisp packets and chewing gum. I knew then that I wanted to recreate John Donald’s crown with street detritus materials in contrast to the precious ones he used. I engaged in an onsite making exercise with the aim of making models of the diadem out of the rubbish. Commuting through Kings Cross each day I am aware of the homeless issues in the area and so felt it an appropriate location for the work.
Once the diadem was completed I wanted to display it as a royal object and so collected the free tabloid newspapers around the time of the wedding and wove a cushion for it to be presented on.Both diadems were displayed next to each other at the degree show. I also sold royal wedding confetti which was hand cut from the newspapers with ten percent of the proceeds being donated to Homeless Windsor Project.
John Donald, Wedding Diadem, 1954. Part of Royal College of Art, Jewellery and Metal Study Collection.
Hello Magazine, January 2018.
Councillor Simon Dudley letter, January 2018.
Street detritus photographs.
Street detritus wedding diadem made from chewing gum, beer cans and bottle tops.
Royal Dilemma shown in exhibition with a hand made cushion made from Evening Standard newspapers from the time of the wedding.