Made in Aotearoa: Jewellery by Alan Preston
Exhibition now closed
7 March - 31 May 2009
Made in Aotearoa: Jewellery by Alan Preston showcases one of New Zealand’s greatest jewellers, whose desire to create a “jewellery of this place” saw him spearhead a movement in favour of materials from the Pacific.
Alan Preston draws his inspiration between the tides of Aotearoa and beyond to create contemporary Pacific adornment. From delicate shell necklaces referencing navigation aids to politically-charged sovereignty badges, Preston’s jewellery engages us with Pacific history.
“The bamboo charts had shells attached that Pacific voyagers held up and aligned with the stars.”
As a co-founder of Fingers Contemporary Jewellery Gallery in Auckland, Preston is a key figure in the development of New Zealand’s contemporary jewellery movement. Founded in 1974 with four other jewellers, Fingers became a focal point for “a style of jewellery relating to Aotearoa and the Pacific rather than to some false foreign paradise”. Preston has been at the forefront of the ‘bone stone shell’ movement: creating a new sense of appreciation for local materials, such as paua, and reflecting our evolving national identity.
“For the past 30 years, the work that I have been making has reflected concerns about Pacific adornment and a sense of time and place in Aotearoa.”
Preston began making jewellery in London in the early 1970s, working in the European tradition with precious metals and stones. By 1979, he had turned to the materials and techniques adapted from Polynesia.
Through his travels and attendances at Pacific Arts Festivals, Preston has been exposed to a diverse range of body adornment and his work reflects a powerful sense of identity.