I was a creative kid but art wasn’t a subject offered in my secondary schooling, I didn’t know any artists growing up so it wasn’t a vocation I understood existed. After quitting a second university course, I signed up to life-drawing night classes at Prahran technical college. I loved to draw and discovering that I had a natural drawing style and an ability to create emotion from the gesture of a line was a revelation.
I remember at this time spending hours cross-legged on the floor of a local library pulling art book after art book from the shelves and absorbing their contents with awe. It was the incredible spatially graphic and energetic paintings of Robert Motherwell, in a book I randomly pulled from the shelves that introduced me to abstract art and I knew from that moment I had to find and develop my creative voice.
I completed a fine art degree in sculpture at Victorian college of the Arts, Melbourne, with a year at Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri, at a time when VCA was small and the different creative disciplines were mutually exclusive. Both art schools were impressive and challenging institutions, which immersed their students in the practical practice of making sculpture. Finishing art school isn’t straightforward there are no jobs to apply for, it is all up to you and you alone to become an artist.
I was in my mid 20’s and sharing a studio when a friend’s father asked if I would design for him a watchband in precious metal that detailed the 8 phases of the moon. I had no knowledge of jewellery yet I obstinately figured if I could weld steel, surely I could solder precious metal? Some months later with ample instruction from a friend with silversmith skills, I presented an over engineered silver and gold watchband.
The scale and precision suited me and I began playing with making small wearable silver objects. Quite by chance a scout for a Japanese design company was holidaying in Melbourne and noticed a bullet shaped pendant around the neck of a friend and asked who made it. He rang to view a current collection of jewellery of which I didn’t have, so I lied(!) and in a frantic week I handcrafted a wild collection of silver and titanium jewellery. He purchased every piece on the spot and the first jewellery collection I ever made was exhibited in Tokyo.
My family ran a small, bespoke textile mill and listening to my parents constantly discuss the family business no doubt unconsciously influenced my focus on underpinning a creative practice with a small business. I wanted to make art and I also needed a living.
From the success of the Japanese sale I set upon teaching myself from books how to make jewellery and with unyielding patience and a disciplined daily practice I have never stopped. I fall somewhere between jewellery and sculpture. I approach my practice as an artist yet I work within the craft of jewellery. I meticulously handcraft individual pieces of fine jewellery of my design, everything I design is unique and wearable. I’m sure that my distinct style is a result of figuring out how to make jewellery on my own. The unexpected benefit of a long-winded making style is the freedom to adjust the design as a piece of jewellery unfolds.
I have been incredibly fortunate to forge a career that has allowed me to design and make beautiful objects every day. I enjoy working closely with people from all over the world and I love hearing customers’ stories and the challenge of finding a thread of their story to weave into a design. I never set out to be a jeweller; it was a natural fit with my personality. I like the energy a customer will bring to my workshop and watching how the strands of various styles over many years have gently evolved.