Date2 May 2023
We ask Steven Junil Park three questions about the new jewellery storage system he's made for Cook & Company.
What kind of life (real or imagined) does jewellery have within your storage system?
I imagine that pieces of jewellery would be like spirits inhabiting this structure. The structure is also like a piece of jewellery, but instead of having its precious materials on the exterior, it hides them inside, keeping them a secret for itself or for the pieces of jewellery kept within. I wonder what pieces of jewellery do when they aren’t being worn. What do they do when we can’t see them, during their own private time?
What informed your response to the brief?
I am interested in how jewellery can have value beyond its material worth. Pieces that hold special significance to an individual contain qualities that exist within that person’s internal world - emotional, spiritual, sentimental value that can’t be seen. I wanted this piece to reflect this idea of hidden value that exists beyond physical characteristics. It is lined with gold foil in its interior but it also embodies the invisible memories of the materials. I wanted to make use of the limestone that I salvaged from the quake-damaged Basilica here in Ōtautahi. Millions of years ago this stone formed from the calcareous bodies of marine creatures. The earth’s movements thrust the stone out of the water where it lay quietly for a very long time until being mined from the Mount Somers quarry. It was cut down and used in the construction of the Christchurch Basilica. It stood like this for over a hundred years until it was shaken apart by the earthquakes. I then cut it down further to make this work. I wonder where it will be in a hundred years, a thousand, a million? The materials of jewellery are often long lasting, they outlive our fragile bodies.
What is your relationship with jewellery?
I don’t wear a lot of jewellery but I’m fascinated by how old the practice of making and wearing jewellery is for our species. It’s very clear that the desire to adorn ourselves is a very old instinct and exists broadly across cultures. There is an element of magical thinking in jewellery that I am really drawn to. These small, seemingly un-functional items can hold special meaning or power, I wonder if this is partly due to the fact that they aren’t necessarily functional. I don’t wear jewellery out of practicality but when I do it feels special and intentional.
More about Steven Junil Park
Steven Junil Park is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Ōtautahi Christchurch who graduated from Elam School of Fine Art in 2013. Working under the moniker 6x4 he produces a wide range of functional objects with a focus on clothing and textiles. Park’s one-off pieces feature recycled, repurposed, or vintage materials; valuing resourcefulness and the memory of materials. Garments by Park have appeared in music videos by Aldous Harding and Tiny Ruins and on stage for ‘Scenes From a Yellow Peril’ by Nathan Joe. He is currently working on garments for ‘A Big Room Full of Everybody’s Hope’ by Amit Noy, premiering at Théâtre de la Ville, Paris in September this year.