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Jewellery

Since the 1980s, studio jewellery – handmade pieces designed and made by the jeweller – has played an increasingly important role in the decorative arts of New Zealand.

While the design of contemporary jewellery may appear playful, often these pieces also explore serious ideas. In the 1980s and 90s, the use of non-precious locally sourced materials articulated powerful messages about the nation’s identity and place. Today, jewellers in New Zealand are expressing many different ideas through their craft – they look to history; they work with contemporary and traditional materials; and they investigate the very essence of jewellery making.

Te Papa’s contemporary jewellery collection primarily represents jewellery practice in New Zealand, but through study or exhibiting internationally, and contact with jewellers from other countries visiting or settling here, new dimensions have been brought to that practice.

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, June 2011.

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