Circling the drain – contemporary jewellery and the tale of the New Zealand Grayling

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Michelle Wilkinson


Report from the Art+Water, art and science project 2019.

By combining art and science, and producing artworks that demystify and inform, it is possible to take scientific research further than science circles alone and allow the narrative to become part of the public vernacular. The intention is to foster interest, to communicate research findings, to raise questions, to become conversation starters, and to be triggers for further research or behavioural change. This interpretation of specialised scientific data allows for the information to be passed on, releasing the research so it can be understood through the objects themselves, with little or no background knowledge necessary.
Contemporary jewellery, as an art form, is well positioned to do this. As a way of connecting people, jewellery can be a powerful means for mobilizing change.1 Once attached to a human host, jewellery has great potential for impact. From the origins of humanity, it has played a role of connectivity through symbolic representation. Its logical connection to the body gives the medium potential to speak of important issues within society.2
My work examines how jewellery can act as a form of communication and an agent for change. It shows that the framework of contemporary jewellery has great potential to speak of issues within society and the environment.

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Author Biography

Michelle Wilkinson

Michelle Wilkinson (B.Sc, M.FA) is a contemporary jeweller whose work sits at the cross-roads of art and science. Her current research interests include biodiversity loss and extinction of New Zealand’s biota.