It might be tempting to say that Lisa Walker makes jewellery out of any old thing – but it isn’t true. The eclectic objects that form her distinctive necklaces, brooches and other body-adornments are meticulously selected and shrewdly modified before they see the light of day. She salvages her materials from an unlikely cornucopia of sources – re-presenting objects such as car parts, animal skins and even kitchen utensils through the frame of body adornment’s long history. Tiny Lego hats, helmets and hairpieces – of the kind that clog vacuum cleaner nozzles in children’s bedrooms around the world – are strung on finely plaited cords like exotic beads or shells; trashy gossip magazines are lashed together to yield a breastplate befitting our celebrity-obsessed culture; dozens of oboe reeds donated by a musician friend bristle round the wearer’s neck like the teeth of some unimaginable deep sea leviathan.
Was it serendipity that the opening of Christchurch Art Gallery's Burster Flipper Wobbler Dripper Spinner Stacker Shaker Maker coincided with that of Slip Cast, a group exhibition at the Dowse Art Museum that also focused on the pleasure that artists take in manipulating materials in the process of making art?
The seven heitiki (pounamu pendants) in these photographs are now held by the Auckland Museum, but they came originally from Te Waipounamu / the South Island and all are connected to Fiona Pardington’s Kāi Tahu iwi. Traditionally worn close to the heart, heitiki are sacred symbols of fertility with great spiritual significance. In Te Ao Māori, the Māori world, clear divisions are not made between past, present and future, and ancestors are considered actively present. With Mauria mai, tono ano (which means to bring to light, to claim again), Pardington wanted to not only record the appearance of these old and precious taonga (treasures), but to draw out their sense of powerful connection with the past.
(Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)