Whether it’s a bangle of Chinese jade, a carefully lashed toki pounamu or grandma’s gemstone ring, we’re accustomed to appreciating jewellery and adornment in heirloom terms. We hold these treasured objects close to our bodies, as tender caretakers of the meaning they ferry from generation to generation.
But in today’s shifting world, how do we choose which inheritances to hold on to and which to let go? Taking place in our world-warping era of climate crisis and global pandemic, this exhibition shifts focus from object to practice, from jewellery as a noun to jewellery as a verb.
A Stone, an Echo, a Sign celebrates jewellery as a living practice that brings inherited ways of thinking and doing face to face with the present moment. Invested in how our actions, ideas and customs reverberate outside of our lifetimes, this exhibition suggests that to keep our inheritances alive, keep them vital, we have to continually reinterpret them through acts of making and remaking.
As the first in a series of triennial exhibitions developed by MAKERS 101, A Stone, an Echo, a Sign reflects its particular, complicated moment. Contemporary impulses are represented through six distinct Aotearoa makers, each of whom has produced new work for this exhibition. These makers have been selected for their engagement with the tension between the timely and timeless, working within the enduring tradition of jewellery and adornment.
Curated by Emma Ng
Exhibition design by Micheal McCabe
Presented with MAKERS 101
Becky Bliss is a contemporary jeweller and graphic designer whose work looks at social issues such as global warming, fair pay and equal employment opportunities. She has participated in the HANDSHAKE projects, and exhibited as part of Wunderrüma, Schmuck 2020 and Schmuck 2015. Her work is included in collections at Te Papa Tongarewa, the Dowse Art Museum and Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
Neke Moa (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Ahuriri, Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is an adornment and object artist working predominantly with found materials collected from te taiao. She is committed to maintaining and uplifting mana motuhake (self-determination) through whakawhanaungatanga, wairuatanga, taonga tuku iho. Neke has been part of the HANDSHAKE project since its inception in 2010 and has exhibited internationally and across Aotearoa.
Shelley Norton’s material of choice is plastic shopping bags, a material she has been working with for more than 20 years. Inspired by Roland Barthes’ description of plastic as ‘abolishing the hierarchy of substances’, Shelley transforms the discarded into the desired. Her work has been included in exhibitions in Aotearoa and Europe, and is held in the collections of Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum and the Dowse Art Museum.
Rowan Panther brings contemporary Pacific interpretations to traditional European lacemaking — consciously working together her own Irish, English and Sāmoan heritage in the context of Aotearoa. Rowan works primarily with muka, producing wearable adornments that draw on forms and motifs from Moana Oceania cultural traditions. Rowan’s work has been exhibited in Aotearoa, London and Paris, and she was the 2021 recipient of Dame Doreen’s Gift, awarded by the Blumhardt Foundation.
Moniek Schrijer recently undertook a residency at McCahon House (2021), where the works for A Stone, an Echo, a Sign were developed. Moniek is currently focused on altering flat sheet metal, melting dimensions and disciplines. Works reflect and refract light from various carefully chosen materials — from new to eons old, humanmade to naturally occurring. Moniek has an extensive back catalogue of exhibitions, and her work is a part of significant private and public collections in Aotearoa and abroad.
Raewyn Walsh’s works hum with an ever-present dialogue between humans and nature, reflecting her interest in how we alter the meaning and circulation of physical things. Raewyn’s work has been shown nationally and internationally, and is part of the collections at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand and the Dowse Art Museum.
Emma Ng is a curator, writer, and public programmer living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. She's worked with galleries and museums across the region, including the Dowse Art Museum, Pātaka, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, and Enjoy Contemporary Art Space — where she was the Curator/Manager from 2014—2016. As a writer and editor, Emma has contributed to The Pantograph Punch, ArtAsiaPacific, The Spinoff, and Hyperallergic, as well as book projects for New York’s Urban Design Forum and Phaidon. Emma is also the author of Old Asian, New Asian, published in 2017 by BWB Texts.
MAKERS 101 is an art organisation that advocates, organises, and provides opportunities for the Aotearoa jewellery sector. MAKERS collaborates with national and international experts to deliver mentorships projects, masterclasses, publications, collaborations, and exhibitions. Their major initiative, the HANDSHAKE project, was established in 2011 with support from Creative New Zealand, providing professional experience and mentorship for emerging jewellery artists. MAKERS 101 is run by artistic director Peter Deckers and project coordinator Hilda Gascard. Find out more about their work through handshakeproject.com and aotearoajewellery.org.nz.