Sparkle and shine

Ron Arad's "Last Train" exhibition looks at the strength in diamonds rather than their value and beauty.

A diamond is the ultimate gemstone, having few weaknesses and much strength. Ron Arad’s Last Train exhibition seeks to reveal the strength of the raw material rather than its value and adornment.

For the 55th Venice Biennale, London-based designer Ron Arad has collaborated with Steinmetz Diamonds to create an exhibition highlighting how the natural stone can be incorporated into a work of art. 

Arad’s piece is about the ways in which diamonds have often been used as messages of love, hate, rebellion or pain: from Elizabeth I who scratched love vows on bottles and jars with her “promise ring” to Robert Burns who scratched poems onto glass panes, to thousands of train travellers who regularly scratch the windows with anger, love and dissent.

Drawing on concepts of strength rather than beauty and value, Last Train is an emotive and powerful image in motion. Going beyond an exhibition into a mysterious performance, visitors can watch a cast of Arad’s fist, armed with a striking Steinmetz diamond ring, designed by Arad, scratching glowing lines onto a glass plane.

I was going to catch the last train from Naples – I arrived on the platform just as the doors closed. The train lingered a little and I saw that in an empty carriage there was a guy with a ring on his fist, doing the most amazing drawings on the glass. It reminded me of the images of Picasso drawing with a match in the air. Although I didn’t know how I would get out of Naples that night, I felt like I was compensated for missing my train by witnessing some beauty that no one else had seen before. These pieces are about this memory. – Ron Arad

Arad invited a number of artists to take part, including: Fracesco Clemente, Anthony Gormley, Christian Marclay, David Shrigley, Cornelia Parker, Richard Wilson, Robert Wilson, Sara Fanelli, Sue Webster and more.

A live performance took place where Arad, Javier Mariscal and Ai Weiwei sketched with diamonds and glass during a press conference. The exhibition is on display until 24 November 2013, in Venice, Italy.