Kelly wins Dowse Foundation Gold Award

Author: Rachel Healy, Communications Manager
The Dowse Foundation’s Gold Award winner Lynn Kelly has just produced a multi-layered tussock and gold necklace which will be the latest addition to TheNewDowse’s collection.
A mock-up of Lynn Kelly's design

A mock-up of Lynn Kelly's design

The winning design, which combines elements of tussock, 22 carat and 18 carat gold was selected by a panel of three judges and completed last month.

This is the first time in her 20 years as a jeweller that Kelly has used such a large quantity of gold in one piece.

“Many contemporary jewellers are unable to be lavish with gold, because of its expense. It’s a shame really, because it's one of those precious metals that matches the golden Otago landscape perfectly. Tussock and gold really bring together two elements that are iconic to Dunedin,” she says.  

Kelly spent weeks collecting stems of tussock from central Otago and threaded them together with tubes of gold to make the necklace. She says the tonal similarity between tussock and gold is quite striking. “Gold and tussock are so similar in colour that it looks quite grassy on first inspection. Then you look closer and see something shiny, that’s when you begin to see how much gold is threaded throughout the necklace.”

Formerly a gardener, Kelly’s knowledge of natural materials helps her determine which plants lend themselves well to jewellery. “Having worked in horticulture, I often find much of my impetus comes from the natural world. I chose tussock because of its gold elements, but also because it weathers well. Tussock has to be pretty strong to weather the harsh conditions of the Otago plains.”

As part of the biennial award, Kelly will receive a $6,000 account with a gold merchant and $4,000 in cash. This will allow her to make a work using gold, a material few New Zealand jewellers can afford to use.

Kelly’s winning design was selected by a panel of three judges including leading New Zealand Jeweller Alan Preston, Decorative Arts Curator Justine Olsen and Concept Development Manager of TheNewDowse Claire Regnault from twelve other designs.

“Lynn Kelly's tussock necklace evokes the visual language of the grassy hill country of Otago. Her use of gold cleverly recalls the region's history of gold prospecting. The necklace epitomises her work and interest in New Zealand plants while producing a beautiful and thoughtful piece of personal adornment,” says Justine Olsen.

Kelly made the transition from gardener to jeweller twenty years ago, when she applied to do a Certificate in Craft Design at Wanganui Regional Community College, where she was working as ground-staff. Since then, she has exhibited in over 100 exhibitions. Indeed, by weaving elements of the natural world into her jewellery, Kelly satisfies two of her life-long passions – horticulture and jewellery.

TheNewDowse will be seeking submissions for the next Gold Award in 2009.