Our classification of something being wearable has, throughout human history, included such items as mouse fur stick-on eyebrows and plastic bobbles in our hair. We paint our faces, clip on brooches and string charms around our necks.
Thinking of this, as I apprehensively approached the gallery at Craft Victoria, I thought, what could be so ghastly that it be deemed ‘unwearable’?
Lisa Walker’s Unwearable collection of jewellery challenges the very concept of what we wear jewellery for, and at what point we say ‘I cannot wear this’. Upon my first encounter with the display of 87 pieces from her extensive collection, I noticed the jewellery ranged from the tiny and intricate, to the outrageously large and uncomplicated.
Grotesque and tacky plastic toys, rubbish from her workshop bin, shells, toy sheep and plastic craft eye balls combine with a plethora of other material to make up the display of brooches, necklaces and pendants. Trying to understand the idea’s behind the pieces was as much of the experience as discovering what peculiarly collected items awaited you at the next table. It was surprising and exigent, and while I only found a small number of items aesthetically pleasing, I was interested in each piece equally.
As I wandered around the gallery, watching other craft enthusiasts and makers interpret the works, I remembered my years at kindergarten and early primary school, when I would make a seemingly endless number of ice-cream-bucket hats, or necklaces with brightly painted clay beads for my Mum, who would proudly wear them, no matter how unfashionable. They meant something to her, just as these pieces mean something to Walker, and undoubtedly to all those who encounter them.
Wearable or unwearable, they make a statement, and essentially, isn’t that what jewellery is there for?
Each piece, whether individually or collectively, question the simple thought we face everyday- what is wearable? The display is beyond eclectic, it’s challenging.
- Review written by Emily Bentley-Singh.