Curiosity Cabinet: Australian Jewellery

From Over There to Over Here


Six Australia-based jewellers have been invited to show their work in this month’s Curiosity Cabinet. Each maker has their own distinct style and point of view, utilising different materials to create playful and vibrant pieces. Artists are Bridget Kennedy, Djurdjica Kesec, Kaoru Rogers, Mark Vaarwerk, Melinda Young and Peta Kruger.


Since completing her Associateship at Adelaide’s JamFactory in the Metal Design Studio in 2010, Peta Kruger has remained at the JamFactory to become an independent studio hirer, producing two solo exhibitions; Start from Scratch for the JamFactory gallery, and This Fool’s Gold for Pieces of Eight Gallery, Melbourne. In 2011 she was awarded a Jump Mentorship grant from the Australia Council for the Arts, and funding from the Ian Potter Foundation to undertake a mentorship with contemporary jeweller Karl Fritsch in Germany and New Zealand. She was commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts to design the Laureate Award and Laureate Medal, presented to artist Tracey Moffatt and curator Juliana Engberg at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2013. Her work has recently been featured in the Australian touring exhibition and publication Designing Craft/Crafting Design: 40 Years of JamFactory.

Kruger’s current work is inspired by the unique mix of natives, introduced species and weeds along city nature strips. Transforming humble material of brass and paint, Kruger creates brooches of hardy, often overlooked plants in jewellery design’s vernacular.


MeLinda Young

ascinated by the potential for unexpected narrative, Melinda Young’s exhibition work has a carefully considered use of colour and often a sly, subversive sense of humour. Inspired by the landscape, the social condition of the body and her everyday surroundings also frequently provide materials for her work. Young generally works to self-set projects, which may provide a particular thematic or even impose rules or constraints on the approach to making, as with her recent project, Take a ball of thread... and her ongoing unnatural jewellery project with Lauren Simeoni.

Young’s particular interest lies with re-presenting the natural state of the body and many of her works have an unsettling plasticity or tactility. She uses the written and visual language of the abject and the body, and frequently explores vernacular for the titles of her work, which operate alongside colour and material to re-create the interior and exterior landscapes of the body in her jewellery. Recent work uses artificial plant foliage – cut up, reassembled and redeployed with gems and other found materials to become a metaphor for the fragility of life and our cultural denial of the ageing, diseased or decaying body. The works have several reference points including the faded beauty of artificial flowers left on gravesites and the roadside memorials dotted along Australian bush roads.


Mark Vaarwek

Mark Vaarwerk was born in Sydney in 1973. He studied jewellery at the Sydney Institute of Technology’s Design Centre, Enmore, graduating with an Associate Diploma in Arts (Jewellery Design) in 1997. Shortly after this he established a jewellery practice in Brisbane, making jewellery to sell and exhibit in Australia and sometimes internationally. In 2010 he returned to Sydney, where he currently resides.

Mark Vaarwerk is known for his skills in transforming throwaway plastics into beautiful pieces of colourful contemporary jewellery. Slowly these materials, especially plastic bags, have become harder to collect in useful quantities and attractive colours because of a growing awareness of the impact they had when once disposed of in such large quantities. As a result, Mark searched for new sources of plastic, and expanded polystyrene became adopted as the main ingredient in his most recent works. Continuing to manipulate these benign, discarded materials with experimental techniques, the result is often intriguing, sometimes vaguely reminiscent of the original material, and always surprising.


Kaoru Rogers

Japanese born Kaoru Rogers lives in Sydney, Australia. In 2011, she completed her Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design at the Design Centre in Enmore, New South Wales. Her practice involves experimentation through materials and techniques, and the use of repetition, shape and form to create her minimalist but effective pieces.


djurdjica Kesic

Djurdjica Kesic has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Interior Design, RMIT University, 1999 and has taught there for several years. A strong drive to create tangible objects has seen her develop a passion for jewellery, and in 2007 she completed an Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology and Metalsmithing (Jewellery) at Box Hill Institute. The same year, Djurdjica was selected for the Filippo Raphael Fresh! Award at Craft Victoria where she was a finalist. Her solo exhibition Nomad was presented at Pieces of Eight Gallery in 2009 and travelled to Metalab Gallery, Sydney in 2010, and Meanders was held at Gaffa Gallery, Sydney in 2013. Selected group exhibitions include Wood at Velvet da Vinci Gallery, San Francisco, 2012, and ‘Breathe Into’ at COTA Gallery, Sydney and JamFactory, Adelaide, 2013. Djurdjica continues to exhibit her work in Australia and internationally.

The focus behind this series is the material - wood. Djurdjica was interested to create pieces by an immediate, most direct engagement with the material, inspired by the age-old tradition of whittling. Almost all she needed was a piece of wood, a simple sharp tool and time; forms emerged, guided by such a straightforward and intuitive technique.


Bridget Kennedy

Many of my childhood memories begin with the long train trip from Sydney to a large property outside of Moree; of summers spent cattle mustering with the grit of red dust between my teeth; hot days spent searching through the crackling, dry bush in search of bower bird nests and the skeletal remains of kangaroos; flipping dried cow paddies to find hiding dung beetles, the shouts of discovery drowned out by the sound of cicadas.

Today, in a home filled with the treasures of birds’ nests and the skeletal remains of snakes and kangaroos, I’m more likely to wake to the sound of a blower vac. I take solace in my garden, growing and nurturing – it provides comfort but recently I’ve observed that the cicadas have grown quieter than in previous summers. - Bridget Kennedy, 'My Australia.'


6 December 2013 - 24 January 2014