Pauline Bern ‘Colonial Goose’
« While the connection between an old recipe from the colonial era and a new exhibition of botanical jewellery by Pauline Bern might not seem immediately apparent, let the title simmer slowly for a while and you will discover that it provides an enticing clue…
Colonial Goose harks back to the early pioneering tradition in New Zealand of making do with what’s on hand – in this case, owing to a scarcity of geese, the traditional English Christmas fare of roast goose was substituted for a stuffed leg of lamb or mutton, prepared in such a way that the completed dish resembled a goose, even though it wasn’t.
The more fickle aspect of Colonial Goose – the one thing masquerading as another, forms the major theme of this new body of work. The Colonial Goose becomes a metaphor for deceit and mutability, an idea that Bern arrived at by way of another goose related anecdote discovered by chance during a visit to an exhibition of botanical illustrations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Illustrated Leaves exhibition included a copy of John Gerard’s Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597), and in it Bern read with fascination an account of the botanical myth of the ‘goose barnacle tree’ on the Isle of Man – a tree popularly believed to have barnacles that opened and gave birth to geese. In Gerard’s fantastical description of the goose barnacle tree, Pauline Bern recognised the creative potential of intermingling fact and fiction in a botanical context, and this led her to create her own version of New Zealand botanical jewellery, but with a twist.
The misadventures of a backyard naturalist perhaps best describes Bern’s method, for the jewellery in Colonial Goose results from the Frankensteinian process of grafting together particular pieces from different plants to create new species that could never, in actuality, exist.
‘I want the works to elicit curiosity, intrigue, surprise, humour and perhaps nostalgia,’ Bern states. ‘I am not attempting to emulate botanical forms, rather to appropriate the extraordinary, unexpected, and often un-noticed details in nature, into a contemporary jewellery context.’ » Exerpt from a text by Bronwyn Lloyd
« Corallium Argentum » – Brooch: fine and stg silver, coral
« Silver Swarm » – Brooch: fine and stg silver, brass mesh
« Physocarpa Corallium » – Brooch: 9ct gold, coral, swan plant, nikau nut flowers
« Physocarpa Argentum » – Necklace: swanplant, nikau nut, rose thorn, silver
« Aqua Rosa Argentum » – Brooch: fine and stg silver, pearls, citrine beads
« Rosa Argentum » – Necklace: rose thorn and wood, fine silver
« Dicksonia Podocarpus » Necklace: neritina shell, totara leaves, fern stem, glass beads
Pauline Bern began her career as a jeweller in the United States in the 1970’s. On her return to New Zealand she exhibited work with Fingers in Auckland and has participated in many of the founding jewellery projects and groups in New Zealand including Details Jewellery Group and The Persuasive Object Craft Conference. Bern has taken part in a number of group exhibitions such as Paua Dreams at Fingers, Close to Home at Snowhite Gallery and Handycrafts at Te Tuhi – The Mark. Recent projects have included Scrub, Grate, Whisk, which toured New Zealand, The Ring Project at The NEW Dowse in Lower Hutt and The Multitude, in Christchurch, July 09. Bern is a senior tutor at Unitec NZ in Auckland.
Colonial Goose – Pauline Bern – ISBN 978-0-473-20430-3 – 2011 – 30p, 16 colour plates, 185x135mm
Exhibition catalogue – essay by Bronwyn Lloyd, photography Haruhiko Sameshima, design areadesign.co.nz (at http://www.rimbooks.com/ — firstname.lastname@example.org)