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Barbara Heath: Jeweller to the Lost

Spirit guards, love tokens and a large sculptural necklace inspired by the Italian legend of Princess Fiorimondi feature in the first museum survey of contemporary jeweller Barbara Heath.

‘Barbara Heath: Jeweller to the Lost’ opens at the Queensland Art Gallery on 15 October 2005 and continues until 26 March 2006.

Queensland Art Gallery Director Doug Hall said the exhibition would present a selection of jewels and sculptural objects created from the mid 1980s to the present.

‘Barbara Heath is one of Australia’s and Queensland’s foremost jewellers’, he said.

‘This exhibition highlights Heath’s ongoing exploration of the communicative power of jewels and how they relate to the body, to ritual and to personal experience.’ 

Mr Hall said the exhibition included more than 60 works drawn from the Gallery’s Collection and other private and public collections.

‘Collectively, the works demonstrate Heath’s distinctive approach to creating contemporary jewels and objects imbued with histories, narratives and symbolism’, he said.

Since 1990 Heath has assumed the title ‘Jeweller to the Lost’, and made an art of working with her clients on specially commissioned jewels.

Through the commissioning process, Heath has collaborated with more than a thousand clients, from Cairns to New York. 
 
‘Barbara Heath: Jeweller to the Lost’ features a range of jewellery and small-scale objects, including works inspired by architectural devices such as the Mashrabia — a traditional decorative screen in Islamic architecture that defines the boundary between the public and private realms.

The exhibition also highlights the icons Heath uses which recur throughout her work, including birds, babies, ladders, running dogs and waves.

'White enamel fusion' 2005, Heath’s most recent series of organic forms in 18ct yellow gold and white enamel, will also feature in the exhibition. These works incorporate elements of coral and antique flat-cut diamonds.

Born in Sydney, Heath has practised in Brisbane for more than two decades. Her work extends from intimate wearables to large-scale sculptures in the public realm, and she is represented in numerous public collections including the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

A publication featuring a series of essays and full-colour images of Heath’s work will be published by the Queensland Art Gallery. The book will be available from the Gallery Store.