Kelly McDonald

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About Kelly McDonald

I’m a jeweller, but what I make isn’t always jewellery, even though the body is always present in my considerations. Apart from a relationship with the body, I don’t have any rules about what I make, how I make it or what I make it out of – all of my decisions are guided by the materials I use – often found or gifted – and in maintaining a sense of fun or play in the studio.

I grew up in a small industrial power town. The Latrobe Valley has four power stations supplying 85 percent of Victoria’s electricity. These stations and the massive open cut mines supplying the lignite that fuels them, dominate the landscape and my family history. My father and his father were both apprenticed to the workshops as boys, maintaining the turbines and brown coal extracting machinery for their entire lives. Through visits to those workshops, I was dwarfed by the gigantic, industrially shaped and ordered steel machines, planting a seed that flowered into a desire for hand-tooling, steel and the integrity of a pragmatic and unself-conscious aesthetic, where a bolt placement is due only to function, never prettiness. As a child I was oblivious to the non-renewable nature of lignite, to the unsustainable endeavour that is coal-fired electricity and to the ongoing rape of a land that will never be rectified.

Kelly McDonald in studio

These formative years are now a part of everything I make – the materials, the visual rhythms, the sense of componentry, of parts making up a mechanism, of found parts or objects worn with time, weather, and use.  They’ve also led to an ongoing interest in utility as it relates to economics, the natural environment and the object, particularly the previous life of an object and it’s interaction with and relationship to humans.

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