03/11/21 — 26/11/21
03/11/21 — 26/11/21
Octavia Cook, born in Auckland in 1978, is a jeweller based in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Cook’s work is represented in public and private collections in Aotearoa and overseas including those of the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira; Dowse Art Museum; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand; Otago Museum, MIMA, Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art (UK) and The Museum of Fine Arts Boston (USA).
Cook’s S.H.A.L.L.O.W. was first shown at Dunedin Public Art Gallery’s Suite 20/21: Part 2 (20 March – 18 July 2021). Begun during the 2020 Covid Lockdown, the work references the Victorian tradition of acrostic jewellery in which coded messages are spelt out in precious and semi precious stones. Cook chooses to spell out the word ‘Shallow’ via an elaborate sequence of acrylic inlay ‘skin patches’: S (Seaslug); H (Human), A (Anaconda); L (Locust – wing and body); O (Owl); and W (Wood).
This 7-piece sampler reflects Cook’s long-standing interest in the use of animal parts in body adornment as well as her experience as a gallery guide at Otago Museum where she became entranced by natural history specimens.
The S.H.A.L.L.O.W. brooches showcase the artist’s advocation of exquisite craft and her long established concern for questions of value. Cook is interested in the symbolic consequences of laboriously applying age-old techniques of inlay and engraving to the inexpensive and increasingly reviled contemporary substance that is plastic. Her use of transparent acrylics highlights the relationship between the back and front of the brooches.
The title or ‘concealed message’ of S.H.A.L.L.O.W., written in large silver monograms on the reverse of each piece, may be read in many ways; quite literally it refers to the wafer-thin quality of these brooches, designed to be pinned on like a ‘second-skin’; it also alludes to the ways jewellery has been derided and regarded as less worthy of serious attention than other forms of art. Ultimately however, S.H.A.L.L.O.W. is an extension of Cook’s ongoing contemplation of jewellery as an art that is paradoxically both public and private.
For details of Octavia Cook works available please contact Anna [email protected]