Precious - 7 Wellington Jewellers

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Media Release: March, 2003. 

PRECIOUS, an exhibition showcasing the work of seven Wellington-based jewellers opens this Friday 7 March in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery, City Gallery. Taking their inspiration from a variety of sources, the works by Peter Deckers, Léola Le Blanc, Steph Lusted, Craig McIntosh, Matthew McIntyre Wilson, Frances Stachl and Suzanne Tamaki cast off the traditional image of jewellery as cute little objects in cases and shows contemporary jewellery as an art form.

Exhibition curator Rebecca Wilson says, “Wellington boasts a healthy and largely emerging jewellery scene with a generation of practitioners fast establishing names for themselves, alongside jewellers such as Peter Deckers who is a well known nation-wide as a senior practitioner and jewellery teacher.”

“The work in PRECIOUS does not explore a common theme”, says Wilson, “but rather presents a body of work from each artist that shows a consistent treatment of materials and exploration of ideas.”

Senior jeweller Peter Deckers’ work for PRECIOUS entitled The Reproduction Guild comprises of a series of brooches and rings accompanied by the interweaving of a sound component, that represents the ‘digital, manual, manufactured, processed’ divisions of reproduction. The ‘processed’ series of works looks at issues of cloning and genetic engineering, and ‘manufactured’ represents the apparent stability of the Twin Towers. Peter Deckers has exhibited widely and had been represented at the last three New Zealand Jewellery Biennales, now teaches in the new Jewellery Diploma at Whitireia Polytechnic and has taught several of the younger jewellers in the exhibition.

The work of French Canadian and Native American jeweller Léola Le Blanc reflects her varied background and interests, which include anthropology and archaeology. Her work for PRECIOUS is a series of brooches made in part from antler bone and porcupine quills that draws on symbols from the Catholic Church, such as the cross and the sacred heart, to investigate the religious origin of native Canadian people’s swear words.

Young jeweller Steph Lusted, whose striking work – which includes a series of ‘badges of honour’ and butterfly wings and insects imbedded in resin – has already garnered much interest. She had been involved in a number of group and solo exhibitions and last year was interviewed for the Big Art Trip for 2002 and received a Creative New Zealand grant. She recently won a Goethe Institut Scholarship for a four week German language course in Germany for later this year. For PRECIOUS Lusted has crafted a series of brooches replicating early medical implements such as scissors, saw and syringe.

Since graduating with a Diploma in Visual Arts in 2002, Craig McIntosh has worked in “Netsuke’ a form of Japanese adornment carving and has exhibited several times in Tokyo. His work was recently included in the Dowse’s Thrift to Fantasy show with carved jewellery representing sweets. Craig’s work for PRECIOUS explores the irony of turning refuse into objects of interest and fantasy, by crafting brooches and necklaces made from recycled beach detritus.

Matthew McIntyre Wilson pieces for PRECIOUS continue his work in bonded copper and silver with a series of objects (pins intentionally left off what would otherwise be brooches) and chains, exploring formal patterning that also resembles a kind of weaving with metals.

Frances Stachl has studied painting at Wanganui Polytechnic and jewellery at Whitireia, and has been exhibiting and selling her work at Avid Gallery since 2000. For PRECIOUS she has created a very long sterling silver chain that can be seen as resembling a feather boa.

Traditional and contemporary Maori and Polynesian materials and ideas provide the inspiration for the works of wearable art and adornment that Suzanne Tamaki crafts. Her garments created from blankets are part of Te Papa’s collection, and she has mounted several high energy multimedia fashion shows including Tribal Borders in this year’s Fringe Festival. Suzanne’s work for PRECIOUS includes a neckpiece, bikini and g-string made from rooster feathers, beads and courie shells.

As part of the public events programme at City Gallery, on Tuesday 25 March at 6pm renowned visiting German jeweller Otto Künzli will give a free public floortalk in City Gallery Cinema.

Otto Künzli (born 1948) is a Swiss-trained goldsmith and a professor at the Munich Academy of Fine Art. He has built up a remarkable reputation and gained international acclaim as an artist, jeweller, curator and academic. Künzli's jewellery is noted for its meticulous craftsmanship and attention to materials. His work is held in private and public museums throughout the world. In this public lecture Otto Künzli will discuss his philosophy and creative approach to jewellery design and making. Otto Künzli’s visit to New Zealand is supported by Whitireia Community Polytechnic, School of Arts and the Goethe-Institut Inter Nationes New Zealand.

PRECIOUS - 7 Wellington Jewellers is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington Art, which is generously sponsored by Designworks and supported by Montana Wines Ltd