Margaret West, jeweller (1936-2014)

Neckpiece, 'Semi-breve', guitar string / stone / paint, Margaret West, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1996
Neckpiece, ‘Semi-breve’, guitar string / stone / paint, Margaret West, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1996. Collection MAAS

“At present I am concerned with certain metaphysical, psychological and social aspects of jewellery-with its ability to inform and transform’. Margaret West, 1982 *

Margaret West was an influential jeweller, lecturer as well as poet and writer.  The Museum had a long professional association with Margaret West and holds two pieces by her. The one featured above was made in the 1990s and is on display in the Museum’s major exhibition  A Fine Possession :Jewellery and Identity

Detail of blue painted river stone.,
Detail of blue painted river stone. Image: MAAS

West studied sculpture and printmaking at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in the 1950s, then ceramics, painting, and gold and silver-smithing in the 1970s.

In 1979 Margaret West moved to Sydney to take up a position at Sydney University College of the Arts where she taught until 1999. She traveled and exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas and is represented in major national and international art collections. Her poetry and essays are published in journals, books and on the web. West published several artist’s books which develop a dialogue between text and image. Her work is broadly informed by interests which range through art, literature, music, philosophy, science and technology. West is known for working with silver, steel, graphite, lead, gold, stone and pigment.

Neckpiece, `Seventeen Stones with Steel & Feather', stainless steel / river stones / feather, Margaret West, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1985
Neckpiece, `Seventeen Stones with Steel & Feather’, stainless steel / river stones / feather, Margaret West, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1985. Collection: MAAS

Much of West’s work has been concerned with the physical qualities of materials (light/heavy); the metaphorical qualities of materials (clouds, stones, roses); and her interaction with materials that have already been partly formed by wind and water.1

West’s most recent exhibition of hauntingly beautiful work was on at the Stanley Street Gallery
* Documentation from information supplied by the artist in 85/1802, neckpiece, seventeen stones with steel and feather, Margaret West, Australia, 1985.
1. Significance statement for 97/224 Neckpiece, ‘Semi Brave ‘, guitar string, stone, paint, Sydney, made by Margaret West, 1996. Written by Grace Cochrane

Written by Anni Turnbull, curator

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