Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Jewellery and Identity

Tiara by Fiona Hall.  Source: SMH. Photo: Geoff Friend

John McDonald ‘Powerhouse Jewellery and Identity exhibition shines a light on culture’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2015

A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity at the Powerhouse Museum has been the great word-of-mouth exhibition over the summer. There have been many enquiries as to when I’d be reviewing this show, which I’ve been keeping in reserve  – partly because it’s tempting to hold back on an exhibition that runs until September, and partly because I can make no claims to having any expert knowledge of jewellery.

Nevertheless, A Fine Possession is an event that commands attention. Jewellery is a neglected art-form in most Australian museums although it exerts a much greater hold on the public imagination than the high-profile contemporary art one sees at a biennale. On two visits to this exhibition I’ve been struck by the way viewers seem completely absorbed by the items on display.

Many people are entranced by the level of craftsmanship – a quality that never loses its wow factor. One can only be dazzled by the fine detail in pieces by Faberge or Giuliano, but it’s no less amazing to realise that an Italian gold ring featuring five tiny pictures of birds is produced by a micro-mosaic technique using specks of coloured stone.

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Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2020
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