Anna Miles Gallery


Mint Prose

28/10/23 — 16/11/23

MINT PROSE is an exhibition of 9 recent monogram brooches by Ōtepoti Dunedin based jeweller, Octavia Cook. These works reflect Cook’s long-held interest in the paradoxical condition of jewellery as both a public and private art. The hidden letters on the reverse of the brooches are informed by the Victorian tradition of acrostic jewellery in which semi-precious stones were arranged to spell out covert messages. The acrylic inlay fronts of the brooches are based on unexpected skin samples from the organic world. Cook relishes applying the intensive labour of traditional craft techniques to non-traditional, undervalued materials.

With the addition of N (Nettle), MINT PROSE is an anagram of IMPOSTER, the word Cook chose to spell out for Cook & Company, the major survey exhibition of her work presented by Objectspace earlier this year. This exhibition brought together four collections of Cook jewels: A selection of her special privately commissioned pieces; A selection of her work held in public collections; the artist’s personal collection of contemporary jewellery; and IMPOSTER.

Cook was born in Auckland in 1978. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Aotearoa and overseas including those of Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira, the Dowse Art Museum, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Otago Museum, the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia), MIMA Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (UK) and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (USA).

The Alphabet of Octavia Cook, MINT PROSE exhibition ephemera, 2023

M (Mermaid), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, Mother of Pearl shell, silver, copper (freckles)
89 x 93 x 6mm

M (Mermaid), brooch, 2022

I (Immortal Jellyfish), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver, copper
100 x 72 x 9mm

I (Immortal Jellyfish), brooch, 2022

N (Nettle), (Ongaonga with galls, Opoho), brooch, 2023 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver, purple heart wood galls
99 x 84 x 8mm

N (Nettle), (Ongaonga with galls, Opoho), brooch, 2023

T (Turkey), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver
95 x 80 x 20mm

T (Turkey), brooch, 2022 (reverse)

P (Parasitic Jewel Wasp), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver
125 x 58 x 9mm

P (Parasitic Jewel Wasp), brooch, 2022

R (Rock), (Basalt, Karitane), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, black sapphires, silver
110 x 85 x 6mm

R (Rock), (Basalt, Karitane), brooch, 2022

O (Owl), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver
96 x 84 x 12mm

O (Owl), brooch, 2022

S (Seaslug), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Acrylic, silver
108 x 87 x 6mm
from I.M.P.O.S.T.E.R, Objectspace, 2023

S (Seaslug), brooch, 2022

E (Emperor Moth), brooch, 2022 (reverse)
Purple heart wood, kauri, acrylic, silver
113 x 70 x 5mm
from I.M.P.O.S.T.E.R, Objectspace, 2023

E (Emperor Moth), brooch, 2022