Estonian jeweler Urmas Lüüs finds beauty as well as pathos in enameled industrial cookware, from which he cuts hearts and crosses that he then makes into brooches. Having witnessed the gloom of former Soviet occupation when he lived in Lasnamäe, a depressed Tallinn suburb inhabited by expatriate Russian factory-workers, Urmas creates these touching reminders that love and hope may still thrive within a downtrodden community.
The “Heart” series is inspired by Autumn Ball, a 2007 Estonian movie (directed by Veiko Öunpuu) – based upon the 1979 novel of the same name (written by Mati Unt) – filmed in Lasnamäe. The story follows six dispirited people living in the area’s desolate, gray, prefabricated housing units who yearn for happiness. They eat cheap pasta out of battered enameled pots and drink beer from old enameled cups; and it is through these material references to nostalgic domestic items that we perceive their wish for a brighter existence.
The “X” – or cross – brooches allude to the national rejection endured by the Russian populace of Lasnamäe. Tragically, much like other marginalized groups in Europe today, if you come from Lasnamäe, you are essentially “crossed out.”
Urmas Lüüs received both a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) and Master of Arts from the Estonian Academy of Arts, Department of Jewelry and Blacksmithing, where he studied under Kadri Mälk. He has been the subject of several solo exhibitions and participated in many group shows. He was the recipient of a prize for best exhibition of the year at A-Gallery, Tallin (2012), and in 2014 he was awarded a grant by the Young Estonian Jewelry Fund.