Tool as Jewel 1.

The start point for my collaboration was the title Tool as Jewel, building on previous explorations of utility coupled with economics, the natural environment and the object, it also gave room to extend and translate earlier research into materials, techniques, wearable objects, images and text. It offered a brilliant opportunity to collaborate with several people; two writers, a philosopher, a graphic designer/photographer and my mentor from HS2.  Each of my collaborations had their own individual outcomes honouring the skills of each collaborator and the quite different relationships we have.

I would meet every couple of weeks with each of them, with Kirsten we would go for long coastal walks. Kirsten McDougall is a writer, publicist at Victoria University Press, literary manager and author of The Invisible Rider (2012) and I am often her reader. For a writer and reader at the early stages of the writing process, this is a critical collaboration. It requires trust, a set of expectations and working to a joint outcome. This time Kirsten wrote about the time we spend together, about who we are and about the places in life where we intersect in a short form, (mostly) non-fiction story. She also interviewed me for her blog, which was a really interesting way to learn things about my own practice that I didn’t realize I either knew or even thought!;

Interview published on the blog The Invisible Writer at number 6, from the series What do people do all day? 


Her words on (in) my hand.

Some excerpts from  the interview:

Kelly McDonald

The body is really important for me in jewellery, which is why sculpture or small sculpture doesn’t really draw me in. It’s the relationship with the body and the scale that you have to work on that interests me.


Do you mean that people can wear these pieces on their body, or have you just made them a size that is in scale with a body?

Kelly McDonald

There’s lots of ways you can interact with the body that isn’t just wearing. That’s one of the more financially viable forms of making. The relationship with the body can just be implied through weight. Like with those stones pieces—we have the knowledge about the weight of those without needing to explain.


So it’s made for the human body, for people. Do you see it as a communication form?

Kelly McDonald

I think so, and I think that’s what all artists do—we’re communicating something. But with painting, you just look at, you don’t touch it, and it has no relationship to the body through the hands at all, it’s only about eyes.

With jewellery more senses are involved because you wear it and it’s a constant interaction with the body; having to put it on, take it off. My work looks good on a wall because it’s flat and graphic, but I’m also thinking about where the body is in a wall installation.  I wonder if it’s a tension in my making where I have to work through the wearability or lack of it and I don’t always have a solution and maybe I never will but I think it’s one of the things that drives my making.


Do you call what you make art or craft?

Kelly McDonald

I think there’s crafting in what I do but I don’t think it’s craft. Craft has a different history, and I don’t feel like I’m talking that language. In my version of art, the artist shows a proven dedication over time. I’m new back to making and I think it’s going to take longer for me to talk about my work in relation to art, and about me as an artist.


Really? That’s interesting because while you didn’t make for a number of years, you’ve been doing it for a lot of your life, always heading in that direction. Do you mean that you think you must have sophisticated concepts before you can call yourself an artist?

Kelly McDonald

No. I think the sophistication comes with just going the distance, that being your primary mode of expression for a long time. After three years, I think I’d be presumptive to call myself an artist. I think that five, six years, I’d be comfortable maybe. You could ask me in another three years!



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