Jewellery Now provides insight into Melbourne’s dynamic culture of contemporary jewellery practice through the work of fifteen artists and designers. Representative of diverse backgrounds and approaches to jewellery, the practices celebrated in the exhibition reflect a wide variety of material and making traditions, including unexpected approaches that challenge conventional thinking about what constitutes jewellery and its significance today.
Defined by its relationship with the body, jewellery communicates on cultural, social, personal and political levels. As an outward statement to the world, jewellery has always been an important form of material production for conveying messages about the relationships between people and the things they value. These messages are not always overtly articulated, but conveyed subliminally through material, technique, imagery, scale and location on the body.
Foregrounding the skill and conceptual prowess of the artists and designers in Jewellery Now, the sixty new and recent works on display highlight how different materials and forms in jewellery can act as markers of cultural identity and belonging to place. Works include silver neck chains cast from snake vertebrae tied to Country; carved neckpieces depicting endangered Australian fauna made from the timber handles of garden shovels; as well as one-of-a-kind brooches, rings and hairpieces. The works in the exhibition reveal embedded histories and the present-day realities of people, places and materials, allowing us to better understand the implications of jewellery design in Melbourne.
Simone LeAmon, The Hugh Williamson Curator of Contemporary Design and Architecture, NGV