Contemporary jewelry exhibit comes to town

Te Kōputu a te Whanga a Toi – Whakatāne’s Library and Exhibition Centre – is delighted to present an exciting exhibition by Lyttelton-based contemporary jeweller Elfi Spiewack. In Splendour Moot, Adornment Re-framed, opens on Saturday 20 April, for its first showing in the North Island.

This striking exhibition explores jewellery as a marker of self-expression and invites viewers to reconsider preconceived ideas around the value of jewellery and objects of adornment. Spiewack states: “Nature has always been a big inspiration, working with ordinary materials and elevating them, putting them into a different context is what interests me. I want to open people’s minds as to what jewellery can be, to challenge the traditional definitions of what jewellery is.”

In this exhibition, Spiewack reconstructs the traditional jewellery pieces worn by those of high social rank and importance in portrait paintings from the Renaissance, Baroque and Victorian eras. She has taken reproductions of these paintings and edited out the original jewellery and re-created new responses with jewellery pieces which are presented 3-dimentionally on the flat surface of the paintings.

These new creations have been made using materials such as silver, gold and pearls, which have been juxtaposed with materials of low monetary value like animal bones, antlers and synthetic hair, in an attempt to question notions of beauty. This is further emphasised through an interactive mirror installation, which gives visitors the opportunity to see themselves ‘wearing’ Spiewack’s creations. 

In Splendour Moot will open to the public on Saturday 20 April at 11am, alongside M/other, a new exhibition celebrating female artists from across Aotearoa who make work about motherhood, mothering and the maternal. On Saturday 11 May from 11am, Spiewack will speak about her practice and concepts behind the works, in an artist talk with Curator Shirin Khosraviani from the Ashburton Art Gallery. The exhibition will run until Wednesday, 26 June. 

Spiewack completed a Bachelor of Arts in Jewellery and Object Design at the University College for Art, Design, Technology and Economy, Pforzheim, Germany. She is represented in galleries throughout New Zealand and since 1993, has shown in numerous group and solo shows in New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.