This week we start installing this Museum’s most ambitious jewellery exhibition ever. Celebrating the central place of jewellery in cultures from antiquity to now, A fine possession: jewellery and identity will present over 700 pieces of jewellery from Australia, Europe, USA, Asia, Africa and the Pacific which were made and/or worn and collected in Australia.The exhibition opens at the Museum on 24 September.
A fascinating window into our past, jewellery remains an essential part of cultures around the globe. The exhibition will explore how we have expressed our desires, fears and hopes as well as our identity and creativity through jewellery; while jewellery we wear can reinforce our personal or cultural uniqueness, creative jewellers can express their identity and personal values through jewellery they design and make.
Among the rarely seen items on display will be ancient Egyptian scarab jewels, Chinese kingfisher-feather jewels and a magnificent tiara and necklace made from exotic beetles for an English aristocrat. Australian highlights will include gold-rush jewellery, Indigenous necklaces made from
We begin with this tiara by the renowned artist Fiona Hall who was recently selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2015. This amazing piece has been crafted by Hall from sardine cans, her signature material, meticulously cut and hammered to form a glorious crown of six xanthorrhoea plants. The artist made this work in 1990 for Dr Paula Dawson, her friend artist and academic and subject of her photographic work. Dr Dawson wore the tiara on special occasions with a blue gown by Katie Pye made especially for the tiara. This tiara is part of the contemporary section of the exhibition featuring works inspired by Australian themes.
It also complements other examples of jewellery created by artists and designers usually working in other fields such as a modernist necklace by the Finnish product designer Tapio Wirkkala (see above image) and the Australian sculptor Robert Klippel, represented by a pair of earrings of the 1940s (on loan from the Art Gallery of New South Wales) also made for an artist friend.
Stay tuned for more favourite objects, updates and behind-the-scenes stories from the exhibition team.
Written by Eva Czernis-Ryl, Curator