A memento or token of remembrance, perhaps of a person, place or event; souvenirs are originally a fragment of context, but over time become emblemic of this context. Lynn Kelly gathers and combines objects from past and present, acknowledging a diversity of influences within her jewellery practice.
Inspired by New Zealand plants and historical botanical drawings, with the assistance of Creative New Zealand Lynn Kelly travelled to London's Natural History Museum in 2008 to view and examine plant specimens collected by Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander in 1769, during the first scientific investigation of New Zealand's natural history. While there, Lynn Kelly also researched British nineteenth century metal objects and jewellery at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This time in London was significant in influencing the recent direction of her practice. "My new body of work views historical New Zealand - in particular colonial influences - through a contemporary lens," Lynn Kelly states.
Looking at the work of immigrant silver and goldsmiths who came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom and Europe between 1860 and 1900, Lynn Kelly has examined how settling in New Zealand influenced the materials they used, including the local and indigenous motifs they borrowed and appropriated. She states, "As a contemporary jeweller I am particularly interested in what was ‘borrowed' or selected by settler metalsmiths (representations of New Zealand such as pounamu, ferns, and kiwi), and how they incorporated this iconography into their own work, for example, heart forms in pounamu or tiki cast in silver."
As a borrower and appropriator, in this installation Lynn Kelly uses traditional materials - sterling silver and jet - combining them with non conventional materials and found objects, such as piano keys, synthetic hair, and even an umbrella handle. These works invite the viewer to re-examine the boundaries between historic and contemporary objects and consider what is meant by a 'colonial influence'.
- Laura Howard