Steph Lusted, Curio II
The Artist Goldsmith Gallery
Oneroa, Waiheke Island
Until February 6
The use of discarded objects or found materials have for some time been part of the practice of many artists in everything from large installations to small sculptural works. However the use of such objetcs has generally not been part of the jeweller’s art which generally uses precious or semiprecious materials.
The ides of pinning dead butterflies or spiders on your clothes has never been a fashion statement, until now, with the work of Steph Lusted.
She has trained in both New Zealand and Germany, managing to carve out a distinctive style of jewellry in which she uses insects and other sorts of creepy crawlies.
While she uses the traditional materials such as gold, silver and pearls she adds a variety of objects form the natural world such as bees, beetles, spiders and lady birds.
Her work approaches jewellery from a new perspective, merging craft with biology. Traditional jewelry centres on the displaying of a gem within a mount, the piece of stone cut to allow its colour, light and texture to be shown.
With Steph Lusted’s pieces it is the spider or butterfly with their individual colour, texture and structure which is on display.
The largest work in her current show is an elaborate necklace, “Precious Nature” ($3900) which has as its centerpiece a large red spider contained in a sterling silver case, its splayed legs creating facets dividing up the case in a geometric pattern.
The single spider is complemented by two other small medallions which hold little bees.
The three medallions become heraldic objects which are linked together with elaborate twirls of sterling silver giving the necklace the appearance of some military decoration.
“Curio II” ($1670), also a necklace, has a baroque appearance with a more architectural style. It features a beetle mounted in a specially designed vitrine so that it becomes like a religious relic full of symboloism..
The pendant “Monarch Wing” ($800) displays the single wing of a Monarch Butterfly with the colour and structure of the wing providing the elaborate design. This work also shows slight signs of damage so there is a real sense of both the beautiful object as well as the fragility of such things.
“Petit Butterfly” ($610) is a smaller pendant featuring a butterfly wing with more subdued blue / purple colouring.
She is also showing several works based on bats. There are a couple of bat shaped brooches made from mother of pearl and silver ($385 and $295) as well as a pair of hanging bat earrings. “Hanging Bats” ($650) has the tiny bats silver bodies wrapped in fine wires of gold.
Her jewellery is significant in the way it combines traditional practice with the contemporary, referring back to nineteenth century jewellery, the Baroque and the jewellery of artists such as Salvador Dali. Her work is also innovative in the way that it uses found objects which provide a means of contemplating the natural world along with a dash of humour.