Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Stamp Collecting

I used to collect stamps as a kid. My grandfather was a passionate philatelist and every year every grandchild received First Day Covers. I wonder now what has become of my stamp collection. It’s possibly stored away in one of my cupboards with all my school books (and my father’s school books and my own children’s school books). (It’s safe to assume I am a hoarder).
All this was brought to mind last week when I saw these terrific new brooches by Auckland-based jeweller, Pauline Bern, which are part of a collection (called Collect) that includes thirteen brooches made from old postage stamps that are now showing at inform contemporary jewellery in Christchurch. Last year Pauline undertook the job of clearing her childhood family home and in the process, she discovered a large carton containing used postage stamps that had been collected by her mother and grandmother over five decades. They meticulously soaked them in water overnight, slipped them off their envelope remnants, dried them on trays, sorted them, labelled them and counted them. Most were passed onto charities for fundraising but it was perhaps fortuitous for Pauline that this one carton remained.
“That is the serendipitous story behind Collect, thirteen brooches that include fragments from the native flora stamp series, stamps that have travelled some distance within New Zealand, some time in the 1960s, arriving at an address in either Howick or Devonport,” she says in her artist statement. Collect follows on from Pauline’s earlier exhibitions, Gather, Sort, Scatter 2007 and Glean, shown at Fingers, Auckland earlier this year. All conceptually address the idea of “reconsidering and reconfiguring materials that have a former usage and meaning and shifting them into the jewellery genre.” In their new life, they gather new stories as they go out into the world adorning their new owners and ‘meeting new friends.’ Pauline is a senior tutor at Unitec NZ in Auckland and this is her first exhibition at inform. All images have been supplied by inform contemporary jewellery.

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