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Main Gallery

  • Blooming big brooch worn by Bill Riley 2008

    Maker: Renee Bevan
    Materials: pigment inkjet print
    Courtesy of the artist. Photograph by Renee Bevan
  • Ann Lye, 1947 1947 / 2011

    Maker: Len Lye
    Materials: digital print of original photogram
    Courtesy Len Lye Foundation, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth
  • Dr Diana Mason OBE, SPUC, Wellington, 1978 2011

    Maker: Peter Black
    Materials: pigment inkjet print
    Collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki. Copy of original print enlarged, reproduced with the permission of Peter Black and the assistance of McNamara Gallery, Wanganui. From: Fifty Photographs: the National Art Gallery, Wellington 1982
  • The Beatles arrive in Wellington on June 1964

    Maker: Morrie Hill
    Materials: pigment inkjet print from scanned negative
    Morrie Hill Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington. Registration Number: F-71857-1/4
  • Installation view

  • Installation view

Eye Catch: Jewellery and Photography

11 June 2011 - 06 August 2011

Mark Adams, George Leslie Adkin, Fran Allison, Jim Barr, Pauline Bern, Renee Bevan, Peter Black, Chris Charteris, Octavia Cook, Mary Curtis, Spencer Digby, Ilse-Marie Erl, Clifton Firth, Warwick Freeman, Karl Fritsch, Jens Hansen, Niki Hastings-McFall, Morrie Hill, Glenn Jowitt, Lizzy Leckie, Len Lye, Adrienne Martyn, Liz Maw, Richard Orjis, Fiona Pardington, Patrick Reynolds, Theo Schoon, Ralph Seldon, Marie Shannon, Aaron Smale, Sofia Tekela-Smith, Yvonne Todd, Lisa Walker, Anna Wallis, Areta Wilkinson

Octavia Cook, Warwick Freeman

The relationship between photography and art is now a committed one; in fact, it is arguable whether art can exist without it. Like European ‘Old Masters' artworks some jewels are only ever seen by a handful of people. And so the photographic representation itself becomes a known and sometimes desired object and eventually part of jewellery's discourse. Jeweller Octavia Cook, who along with fellow jeweller Warwick Freeman has curated Eye Catch, recently had herself photographed wearing her Royal Gilded Ectoplasm Brooch before it left New Zealand with a one-way ticket to Amsterdam. "I like it more in the photograph than in person," she says. "That's the weird flipside of a jewel having a different life in a photograph."
Eye Catch is Objectspace's first photographic exhibition. The categories in which the photographs are grouped are porous, their borders open: jewellery in portraiture; as prop; as product line; as self portrait; as emblem; in fiction; as artefact; in the news; and in time and place. Eye Catch is not a definitive collection of jewellery in New Zealand photographs; it "contains what Cook and Freeman caught after trawling, albeit with the gimlet eyes of jewellery practitioners" says writer Frances Walsh who interviewed the curators about their selection.

Many jewellers have commissioned photographers to document and present their work, especially for publication, and Eye Catch presents a number of examples of this relationship between jewellery and photography. Jewellers Octavia Cook and Lisa Walker have, as content creators, deepened this relationship by authoring a number of photographs that stand alongside the jewellery within their own practices. In the case of Lisa Walker, Frances Walsh observes that Walker's photographs "are pre-emptive strikes to those who would question whether her jewellery is jewellery."

Historically jewellery has played a strong role in portraiture because of its ability to convey significant information about the sitter's character and status. Portrait subjects Liz Maw and Bill Riley seem to compete with the jewellery they sport for our attention. The strong character of medical practitioner and advocate Dr Diana Mason, with her orbital earrings and other accoutrements, seems to be challenging us to enter her orbit. And at the other end of the spectrum the portrait of the nineteenth century Maori youth dressed in Roman toga, feathers and tiara while intriguing seems more baffling than character revealing. In as much as any photograph can be read as true, Glen Jowitt's photograph is pretty much what you see. A school girl attends the celebrations of Tonga's King Tāufa'āhau Tupou IV's 85th birthday wearing a necklace made of pandanus seeds.

Eye Catch also includes a selection of Victorian and Edwardian jewellery containing photographs, from a Private Auckland Collection.

Publication: Eye Catch: Jewellery and Photography.  The Exhibition catalogue essay has been written by Auckland writer Frances Walsh, author of the recently published book Inside Stories (2011).

Public Programmes: 

Saturday 9 July, 11am. Curators' floor talk

Saturday 30 July, 11am. Octavia Cook, Mary Curtis, Richard Orjis and Deborah Smith speak about the relationship between jewellery and photography. 

Presented in association with: 2011 Auckland Festival of Photography