Some people tell me I am an artist and some people tell me I am a designer. Art and design are nearly the same. One is applied, more functional, in some way more objective. The other is purer, more personal. But both artists and designers – and everyone in-between, including me – have a need to create because creativity is the best way to understand and express our humanness, our lives. Jewellery can function as art and as design. As an artform you can’t get much more abstract than jewellery but it can also be direct, even downright blunt. As a designform it is endlessly malleable and suggestive. In my work I continually brave this question: What is jewellery? Is it adornment? Yes. Is it an expression of the person who wears it? Yes. Is it an expression of the times? Yes. Does it have relevance – when, where, why, how? I create my jewellery in response to these questions; so it is the question and the answer.
One thing I know for sure is that I don’t want throw-away designs. I want my work to last and at the same time always remain fresh. This is a challenge that has driven me since I first started jewellery design over 20 years ago. Working with New Zealand motif’s in new ways – like I have done with the paua shell (which has been done to death) – is a kind of ‘tuning-in’ to get a clear signal. This ‘tuning’ is not really conscious, it is deep within me and it has been a constant mystery to me. I am grateful to this drive because it grounds me. I believe that creativity lifts you up and at the same time grounds you – and so it stretches you. This ‘tuning’ is not rational. You need to play around to invent, it is not a thought process. My tinkering – whether it happens in my mind or on my jeweller’s bench – is not rational, it has nothing to do with words – it is an intuitive expression that reflects my vision of the world – and by expressing myself as I do I can feel grounded until such time as I weigh anchor – to stretch myself again.