Thursday, May 6, 2010


High cliffs and difficult terrain are characteristics of New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, the largest park in the country. New Zealand is also the birthplace of featured jewelry designer Rebecca Ward.

Upon viewing Ward's eclectic jewelry collections, it was clear that she sets no limit to selection of materials, shapes, colors, techniques and textures.

She possesses an amazing, voracious appetite for exploration. In fact, the Brisbane, Australia-based designer once bravely rummaged through the unglamorous Toowoomba Dump upon her participation in the 2006 group exhibition Flash Trash.

"I had the great fortune to be one of the Flash Trash artists," she says. "It was a fun outing and boy did I find lots of stuff. I liked the challenge of creating artworks from the findings.

I tend to look for the unexpected when choosing and combining materials and the most enjoyable aspects of this is collecting the materials: pebbles from remote beaches in New Zealand, glass fragments from old seaside resort areas, and vintage found objects from junk stores."

Her design aesthetic is unencumbered, and free wherein she takes a smooth, round pebble and makes it the focal point of a pendant or takes the irregular forms of beautiful, blue glass shards from broken gin bottles linking them together to form a distinctive necklace.

Ward's influence by "New Zealand and Polynesian adornment" is highlighted through the pieces' organic form. Here again, this natural aspect is central to her design approach allowing a raw, primal beauty to take center stage.

Pieces made from gin bottle glass, such as the Bombay Shards Necklace, as well as items from her Sunken City Collection, I find particularly astounding. The integrity of the glass remains intact; it is still glass. Its color has not been altered yet a common, broken glass from beer and gin bottles has been made over, recycled within a new context.

Within the context of a necklace, earrings or bracelet the material is transformed, and reborn into a glorious entity. That is just how beautiful the pieces look. What Ward renders through her collections is a sheer testament to the active, living force that creativity seems to be.

She leaves nothing unturned using thread, Bakelite, patinated copper, leather, rubber, sterling silver, and 18-karat gold to bring palpable life to her jewelry. From a creative and visual standpoint, I think it is really daring.

"I am drawn to small objects that have their own histories and convey a sense of place and time. It is important for art to tell a story from the heart and jewelry offers a portable medium for this," she explains. "My wok investigates themes of lost times, environment and journeys."

The alumna of Australia's Queensland College of Art majored in gold and silversmithing, holding a Bachelor of Visual Arts. For the last 17 years, she has continued to hone her spectacular creative gift.

From 2008 to 2009, she served as a tutor at the Brisbane Institute of Art, and Longreach's ArtsWest School of Creative Arts.

In 2003, Ward also co-founded the MoB Workspace located in the Museum of Brisbane, which provides "a space for artists to work and a unique opportunity for visitors to MoB to observe some of Brisbane's premier artisans while they work."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Recycled Glass, and Nylon Bombay Shards Necklace
Photo 2 (center): Sterling Silver, Bakelite, Amber, Hematite Necklace from Future Fossil Collection
Photo 3 (bottom left): Sterling Silver, Glass Beads, Freshwater Pearls, and Nylon Earrings from Revisited Collection
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