Date14 May 2023
We ask Anna Wallis three questions about the new jewellery storage system she's made for Cook & Company.
What kind of life (real or imagined) does jewellery have within your storage system?
Jewellery and objects are given a certain power being placed on these shrine-like shelves. An old family locket, the ring or watch of a deceased Grandparent. The objects or jewellery connect us to our past, our whakapapa and whānau. Jewellery may also remind us of who we are right now. The shelves are a resting place for these treasured objects.
What informed your response to the brief?
Growing up my family had a few of the decorative shelves made in the 19th Century - What Nots or Étagères - small shelves for small things, and I often thought about the status of the objects placed on them. The choices that were made about what was displayed on the What-not revealed a lot about the household,, what they treasured and their marvellous experiences of their lives in object form. As furniture placed in the home the What not was made for a forgotten or unused space, usually a corner or a small wall space.
At night I used to take my wedding ring off my finger and place it on my cluttered bedside table. Often in the morning it was knocked to the floor by my nighttime flailing around reaching for a glass of water and the like. I had an idea I would like to build a shelf just for my treasured ring, but it would have to be small to fit on a narrow strip of wall. As a jeweller I used what I already know, metal work, to construct the shelf. Although the idea started off as being a simple structure, my jewellery brain took over and soon it was looking like an out of control wall brooch. This is my version of a What-not.
What is your relationship with jewellery?
Although I am a jeweller, in the physical sense I have a strangely difficult relationship with jewellery. I do not wear it much but love to make things that hang on other peoples bodies. I like to think of jewellery as a kind of punctuation in the context of someone's outward appearance. It can tell you a lot about a person, what jewellery they choose to wear.
More about Anna Wallis
Anna Wallis studied at Dunedin Polytechnic under Kobi Bosshard and Georg Beer graduating in 1992. She has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally since the 1990’s and her work is held in permanent collections at The Dowse Art Museum and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. Wallis is a founding member of jewellery studio and education space Workshop6 in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Wallis considers making jewellery as an exercise in building or growing objects. Working mainly in metal, Wallis’ outcomes are inextricably connected with how the pieces are constructed. Her pieces reference traditional jewellery while simultaneously citing machinery, architecture and crystalline or geological forms.