Metadecorative is an important exhibition of new work for Auckland based contemporary jeweller, Mary Curtis, who has been making jewellery since 1986 and is particularly interested in the history of decoration. Metadecorative represents the outcome of an intensive period of research and making that started in 2007 when Curtis undertook a two month residency in the Munich workshop of her contemporaries, Helen Britton, David Bielander, Doris Betz, and Yutaca Minegishi.
The jewellery featured in Metadecorative comprises brooches, rings, earrings and necklaces and has been made in the two and a half years following Curtis' Munich residency, which she says focused on "experimentation, and exploring new directions" within her already well established artistic practice. These works, Curtis says, are "a direct result of this time playing in Germany and my following travels around Europe."
Curtis typically employs a wide variety of resources and materials from the ‘everyday' in her works and her latest works evidence a particular interest in the role of decoration within useable objects, from the kitchen to the body. Materials used include silver, wallpaper, wool blankets, recycled fabric, paint, cotton, stainess wire, glue and resin.
Metadecorative publication essayist, Grant Thompson, says that "'metadecorative', the word Curtis solders together to title this exhibition, points to her work as decoration about decoration, as decoration that investigates the intricacies of decoration's histories, languages and forms to produce new forms of decoration. For Curtis, these investigations have her exploring European museum collections, trawling library shelves, reading historical and contemporary writings on decorative arts and practices and sifting through the contents of second hand stores. While the research activities are diverse and the garnered treasures eclectic, the work at the bench is precise. It seeks to produce jewellery pieces that have the feel of the present through the quotation of remembered shapes, textures and patterns." Curtis' interest in the museum has also inspired the display of the works in this exhibition.
Inviting the viewer and the wearer to reconsider decorative history, Grant Thompson suggests that the works in Metadecorative "stand in for moments that decorate a remembered, but not lived history." As such these works serve to remind us, through the use of dated and familiar twentieth century decorative materials and insignia, of a not so distant time and place to which we are all intimate.
This exhibition has been assisted with funding from Manukau Institute of Technology.