The Neck // Artist biographies + statements

Vivien Atkinson, Ruff, 2020, disposable surgical masks, (collected from Wellington Clinics, washed in disinfectant and dried in the sun), cotton fabric, thread, grosgrain ribbon. Photo: Vivien Atkinson.

Vivien Atkinson


Vivien Atkinson was born in Melbourne, Australia and now lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She completed a BFA (Hons) at Massey University, Wellington, an MFA at RMIT in Melbourne, Australia and a BAPPA at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, New Zealand. She is an active participant in TheSeeHere and TimRex and is a visual-arts fellow and part-time tutor (Contextual Studies) at Whitereia Polytechnic.

Artist Statements

An Elizabethan Ruff in the Time of a New Plague is a work made in response to the Covid pandemic. At times when the disease is circulating in the community, authorities attempting to limit the mechanism of viral transfer have mandated we wear masks, but their disposable nature (I was told they should be replaced every 4 hours) is the source of another kind of plague littering the streets and adding to landfill.

Through lockdown and in the lower level immediately after, I asked contacts at two Wellington clinics to save their used masks for me. The accumulated masks were hand-washed, disinfected, dried in the sun and then sewn into the Ruff.

Vivien Atkinson, Untitled (Hand Sanitiser Pendant), 2020, crochet cotton, bottle of hand sanitiser, dimensions variable. Photo: Vivien Atkinson.

This work was inspired by a lacy hand-crocheted inherited tomato sauce bottle cover designed to disguise the utilitarian appearance of that object and make it fit for the Sunday dining table. Responding to the constant reminder to sanitise hands, I felt compelled to create an ornamental, wearable neckpiece that would be there between the wearer and others, offering the possibility of a safe interaction.

Roseanne Bartley, Unsound Work: whistle, shaker, bells (table and bike), 2021, repurposed felted wool, steel, wood & ceramic. Photo: Roseanne Bartely

Roseanne Bartley


Roseanne Bartley is a New Zealand born Melbourne based settler artist, writer and educator. From her training in contemporary jewellery she developed an interest in the performative attributes of adornment which she expands upon through object, social and performance making. Through iterative use of text, action, and trace her works poetically tell of the common and uncommon links between adornment, language and place making. Jewellery she notes, is one means by which we articulate becoming human in all its diverse forms. The value and meaning of adornment may arise in individual and collective acts of doing as much as reside in the effects of a precious object or thing.
Roseanne graduated with a practice based Phd from the RMIT School of Architecture and Urban Design in 2018 Her work has featured in national and international exhibitions, publications and festivals. These include: The Language of Things; The Dowse Art Museum Wellington (2018); After Wearing: A History of Gestures, Actions and Jewelry – Pratt Institute, New York (2015); Unexpected Pleasures – National Gallery of Victoria and the Design Museum, UK (2012-13); and Melbourne Now – NGV (2013–14).

Roseanne’s work resides in collections of the NGV, Powerhouse Museum and Toowoomba Regional Gallery and has been supported by Australian Council (2001, 2004, 2006, 2012) and Arts Victoria (2001, 2008).

Macarena Bernal, Degrade necklace, 2020, polymer resin, pigments, sterling silver, magnet, trimmer line. Photo: Macarena Bernal

Macarena Bernal


Chilean national, resident of New Zealand since 2012, and a citizen since 2018, Macarena has a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from Finis Terrae University in Santiago, an Advanced Diploma in Jewellery Practice from MIT in Auckland, a Post Graduate Degree and a Master’s Degree from the Otago Polytechnic, Dunedin school of Arts.

This Visual Artist chooses Jewellery as her medium for its wearability offers a quality of interaction. Her work aims to introduce new perceptions of value by capitalizing on the bond between jewellery and wearer, propounding jewellery as wearable forms of archive for the pending survival of cultures, or as a political platform to comment on racism.

Artist statement

To address social inequality by means of jewellery, I began researching skin colour. This confronting and thought-provoking subject, is exposing me to uncomfortable truths such as unfounded perceptions, divisive beauty and pre conceived value.

Observing, mimicking, selecting, organizing and threading skin tones in the shape of beads to later wear on the neck, revealed the limitations of my own skin colour and the inequality I have experienced as a Latino immigrant in NZ.

Vernon Bowden, InVader II, The Empire strikes back, 2019, xoal, resin, US silver dollars, Indian wedding garland. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Vernon Bowden


Vernon Bowden is an artist jeweller working in Australia and New Zealand. His work has been shown in numerous Australian galleries including the Jam Factory, Manly Art Gallery, Rockhampton Art Gallery, Grafton Regional Gallery, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery and various Sydney galleries. Internationally he has exhibited at Imperial War Museum, London; Sieraad Jewellery Art Fair and Museum of Modern Art, Arnhem, Netherlands; and has been selected twice for Legnicia International Jewellery Competition in Poland. Vernon’s work is included in numerous publications, most recently in Jen Townsend & Renée Zettle-Sterling’s major book on casting: Cast: Art and Objects Made Using Humanity’s Most Transformational Process, Schiffer Publishing, USA 2017. Vernon studied sculpture at the Otago Polytechnic School of Art in New Zealand, and jewellery design at the Enmore Design Centre in Sydney. He has taught jewellery design at the Enmore Design Centre in Sydney and Whitirea in Wellington, New Zealand. He was the artist in residence at Te Auaha, visual arts department 2019-20.

Artist Statement

Empire and colonisation, distance and isolation, fear and theft, far flung British holdings in the Pacific. Born of violence and avarice, the land measured and parcelled, the people judged and segregated; eight generations after invasion the robber barons still rule. Surrounded by rising vast blue oceans and alien cultures, cast-out from the mother country; guarding our stolen land, hoarding our vast wealth, bastions of anxiety, fortresses of fair go. 

Zoe Brand, nothing and everything, 2020, pressed aluminium, cord. Photo: Andy Mullens

Zoe Brand


Born in Brisbane, Australia in 1984. Zoe Brand completed an Advanced Diploma in Jewellery and Object Design at Design Centre, Enmore, TAFE NSW – Sydney Institute. In 2014 Brand completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Gold and Silversmithing at the Australian National University. 2015 She finished her Bachelor of Visual Arts with First Class Honours at the same university. Brand has exhibited in many group shows in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Germany, France and Estonia and her work is held in a number of significant private collections. Brand was also recently the Director of the Personal Space Project, a gallery located in her bedroom.

Melissa Cameron, Resilience, 2016, stainless steel gun, steel chain and shackles. Photo: Melissa Cameron.

Melissa Cameron


Melissa Cameron is an Australian artist with Anglo-Celtic and Canadian ancestry. Born and raised in Perth, she has lived in Melbourne and Seattle, in the USA. She holds a BA in Interior Architecture and a Postgrad Dip. in Jewellery Production from Curtin University, and an MFA in Jewellery and Metalsmithing from Monash University.

Melissa creates socially aware / protest art. The centre of her practice is her deep empathy towards the human body, and the life that each body represents. She often makes with domestic objects that are familiar to, and which act as a proxy for, the human body, which is also the main venue for the display and dissemination of her primarily wearable messages.

She has exhibited worldwide, with solo exhibitions in Australia, Japan and the USA. Her works are in several public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the University of Iowa Museum of Art and Cheongju City Collection in South Korea.

Artist statement

Stamping out gun violence in the USA has experienced many false starts, or perhaps more optimistically, tentative beginnings. As we have learned, it will take a concerted effort from a united force. The weapon in this work has endured nine strikes of a six-hundred-pound (272kg) drop hammer. At half its original width it has become practically a shadow, but as if mocking its imperfect destruction, it now grins from where it split a seam. The finished work shackles the gun to a steel chain, completing its metamorphosis from hand tool to body adornment. Strung like the albatross, guns continue to smile malevolently at us from their position of power around our collective neck.

Anna Davern, Meat and Greet, 2018, recycled satin and stuffing, silver (V). Photo: Fred Kroh

Anna Davern


Anna has been making jewellery in Melbourne, Australia since the 1990’s. She originally studied jewellery at Sydney College of the Arts and followed that up with post graduate studies at RMIT in Melbourne. Her practice straddles the visual arts, jewellery, fashion and education. She works from a light filled studio in Melbourne’s CBD which she shares with Cass Partington, Jana King and Robyn Clarke. Anna exhibits regularly in Australia and overseas and you can find her work in the galleries and stockists listed below. Anna is a well-respected artist within the Australian contemporary jewellery and craft communities. Anna wishes she knew where the Flóra Vági brooch she is wearing in the photograph has disappeared to.

Artist statement

This work was produced in 2018 for the exhibition Island Welcome curated by Belinda Newick. Island Welcome invited 15 Australian jewellers to respond to Australia’s current immigration and refugee policies.

In true egalitarian Australian style, Anna was keen to bestow the receiver of the lei with some ready-to-use social currency. Was it to be song lines to an Australian rock anthem? Equip the wearer with the lyrics to a Cold Chisel classic so that they could scream and yell and fit right in with the crowd. Not a stranger or an intruder – but one of us.

This thought led to the great BBQ tradition. The grill is by no means exclusive to the land down under. There is a commonality to this casual group event; with its understood code that contribution to the feast is part of the way we can enjoy each other’s company.

This bountiful string of sausages, chipolatas, and kebabs, is Anna’s way of welcoming newcomers to our country, an expression of her joy at the ease with which Australians respond to simple efforts of belonging from outliers.

In the spirit of inclusiveness, please accept her meat & greet. Wear it to a BBQ and feel welcome.

Don’t forget to bring a potato salad.

Pennie Jagiello, Washing over the era errors of the Anthropocene, 2018-19, hand carved soap, plastic fragments, hand plaited discarded plastic. Photo: Courtesy of the artist.

Pennie Jagiello


Pennie Jagiello is a Melbourne-based contemporary jeweller who recently completed a Masters in Art at RMIT, titled Remains to be seen, worn and heard: an inquiry into anthropogenic debris investigated through contemporary jewellery objects. For this project, a body of work was constructed entirely from anthropogenic debris collected from beaches and coastal environs across Victoria, New South Wales and the Pilbara, WA.

Pennie’s ongoing research investigates the objects we use and discard, and the environmental consequences of unsustainable practices. Pennie was a finalist in the 2016 and 2017 Victorian Craft Award, and recently selected for a residency with Form Gallery in Western Australia, which enabled her to visit the Pilbara during 2014–16.

Artist statement

This strand of soap beads references the infiltration of plastic in our lives. We are surrounded by this material we have created, and what we have created is an environmental disaster. This piece references micro beads that for many years have become the synthetic exfoliate in many products used in our homes and on ourselves. We see the consequences, we know the impacts on nature, we know marine life are filtering plastic through their systems, we know it is found in the foods we eat and yet we continue to wash over the facts in favor of the promises we are fed for a cleaner, brighter lifestyle, mind, body and soul.

So, cleanse yourself, and wash it all away.

Cara Johnson, Unearth II, 2019, paper, iron, handmade paper thread. Photo: Fred Kroh

Cara Johnson


Cara Johnson’s craft-based works interrogate tensions surrounding land use. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Art (First Class Hons.) at RMIT University in 2016 and is a current PhD Candidate and sessional lecturer in RMITs School of Art. Recent solo exhibitions include Understory at Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Three Trees at Craft. Cara has also exhibited widely nationally and internationally, notably Paper Art 2017 at CODA Museum in the Netherlands and at Gallery Funaki in Melbourne, and her works were selected for Schmuck 2021 in Munich as well as the upcoming Woollahrah Small Sculpture Prize in Sydney. Cara’s works are held in various private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Victoria.

Artist Statement

In the bush everything weeps. Leaves and bark gently seep colour into the water, and the ground.

Through this piece I am looking to draw paper and iron closer to their source, and narrate a correspondence between material and nature, while also quietly lamenting on the impact of human presence.

The idea of value is very important to me in my practice and I illustrate this through my deep investment of time in making, alongside my commitment to articulating the preciousness of the landscapes I care for. My ideas are translated in the form of neckpieces, for their correlation to the cyclic rhythms of the environment.

The iron gently bleeds into the paper, painting it with rust; bringing it closer to a
time when it belonged to a tree.

Bridget Kennedy, In Memory of Food - a warrior’s tribal neckpiece from distopian future, 2017, electroformed food (still contained), copper. Photo: Luke Torrevillas

Bridget Kennedy


Bridget Kennedy’s jewellery combines diverse, non-precious and organic materials with traditionally precious materials creating an ongoing enquiry into environmental fragility, impermanence, choice and value.

Bridget Kennedy’s jewellery combines diverse, non-precious and organic materials with traditionally precious materials creating an ongoing enquiry into environmental fragility, impermanence, choice and value.

Her early childhood was spent in Fiji and the South Pacific and she has cultural ties to the Philippines through her life partner. These influences and exchanges have greatly informed her practice.

Bridget is co-director of Studio 20/17, a contemporary jewellery gallery that opened in 2008 in Sydney and has recently completed a coursework Masters in Studio Art at Sydney College of the Arts.

Artist Statement

This work has evolved out of feelings of frustration and helplessness as the Australian landscape is ripped apart and gutted by coal and coal seam gas mining companies. Close to home, the Shenhua mining company, whilst having sold back part of its mining licence to the NSW government threatens to exhume coal from our fertile foodbowl, the Liverpool Plains. Beautiful one day, dust bowl the next. The main cast of politicians and mining CEOs seem unstoppable. They are not leaders, they are our failures. This neckpiece is for a future tribal elder, a Chieftain, a survivor, who wears decayed and beaten precious ‘charms’, signifiers of an abundant past, a liveable world, small metal sarcophagi of precious relics, food corpses salvaged from the ruins that we created by dawdling and allowing this band of maniacs to stay in charge.

Claire McArdle, Small Tool for Change-Swift parrot, 2021, red ironbark from a discarded post, steel from a car exhaust, leather. Photo: Claire McArdle

Claire McArdle


Claire won the Itami Award at the 2019 ITAMI International Jewellery Exhibition at The Museum of Arts and Crafts in Itami, Japan, first prize at both Contemporary Wearables ‘13 in 2013 and the National Contemporary Jewellery Award in 2016 and received the Excellence Award at the Victorian Craft Awards in 2017. In 2018 her work was collected by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. She has held solo exhibitions in Australia, Estonia, Germany and Thailand. Her work has been exhibited in Thailand, Hong Kong, USA, UK, Germany, France, Estonia, Austria and The Netherlands. She has undertaken residencies in Australia, Mexico, Iceland and Estonia. She is currently undertaking a PhD at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Artist statement

The metal section is made from a car exhaust. The handle is made from reused red ironbark (Eucalyptus tricarpa) carved into the shape of a Swift parrot. This critically endangered parrot breeds in Tasmania and then flies across Bass Strait to spend the cold months of the year in eucalypt forests, especially the box-ironbark woodlands. The destruction of breeding and feeding habitat by humans, threatens the future of this species.

The two halves of the neckpiece form a shovel.

It can be worn around the neck to start a conversation.

It can be used to plant a tree.

It can be used as a small tool for change.

Melinda Young, Pennyweight neckpiece. 2021, 21 American one cent pieces (1967-2001), bullet casings, oxidized 925 silver. Photo: Melinda Young.

Melinda Young


Melinda Young is a visual artist & craftsperson whose work spans jewellery, textiles, installation & interactive public art projects. She has a Master of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and is currently undertaking a cross-disciplinary PHD in Human Geography and Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. Melinda has exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas since 1997, recent exhibitions include isolate/make: Creative Resilience in a Pandemic at Australian Design Centre, Sydney & The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize at the South Australian Museum. Her work is held in public collections in Australia and Norway has been included in numerous publications. In addition to her jewellery practice Melinda engages in work as an educator, curator and writer, she is currently an Associate Lecturer at UNSW Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture.

Artist statement 

This neckpiece attempts to make sense of some of the madness in the world, it is directed particularly toward America’s ongoing lack of sensible gun legislation, however it has its roots in my earlier work Love’s Labour (for Alma) made in 2015, memorialising a victim of Australian gun violence. Comprising 21 American one penny pieces dating from 1967 – 2001 linked together with a chain made using sliced, brass bullet casings and oxidised silver, each element of the work has been carefully considered, in the hope that the material choices can easily be read. The pennies have been heated using a jewellers torch – revealing the characteristics of the metal composition, from the gilding bronze of the pennies pre-dating 1982, through the copperplated zinc of the pennies dated after 1982. The iconography of the newer coins has warped and melted away with the heat, the zinc bubbling to the surface. The use of 21 pennies is deliberate, a reference to Dr. Duncan MacDougall’s 21 Grams Theory , that we lose 21 grams of weight at the moment of death, allegedly the weight of the soul. The pennies are linked with oxidised sterling silver and links made from brass bullet casings – as the neckpiece is worn the blackened surface of the silver links will wear away, revealing a ‘silver lining’, however the yellow lustre of the brass bullet casings will slowly tarnish with skin contact and wear. This work is ‘alive’ its materials in a constant state of change, a memorial to those whose lives are lost as a result of senseless gun crime and a government so blinded by the lure of money that it disregards the value of life.