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Auckland jeweller relishes residency opportunity

Auckland jeweller relishes residency opportunity

For leading contemporary jeweller Pauline Bern, recipient of Creative New Zealand's craft/object art residency, the opportunity to spend two months working alongside her peers at the Gray Street Workshop in Adelaide is "the biggest luxury I can think of".

Head of Jewellery at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland since 1990, Bern says the $20,000 residency means she will be able spend two months from August this year focussing on her work and engaging with Australian jewellers whose work she admires.

"It will give me the time and freedom that my students have to explore and create work," she says. "I keep telling my students to make the most of it."

Unlike Creative New Zealand's other international residencies, this residency is not attached to a particular institution or location, and applicants were able to choose their own location and residency period.

It's a process that's worked well for Pauline Bern, who is particularly interested in making connections with Australia and working with Australian jewellers Catherine Truman, Julie Blyfield, Leslie Matthews and Sue Lorraine. And because she works at Unitec Institute of Technology, she was keen to work outside an education institution.

Announcing the recipient of the 2003 residency, Creative New Zealand's Arts Board Chair Murray Shaw described Pauline Bern's work as "urban, edgy and exciting".

"This residency will provide Pauline with the time and stimulus to experiment and take risks, develop new techniques and build valuable networks," he said. "I very much look forward to seeing the work that will result from her time at the Gray Street Workshop."

Pauline Bern, who lives in Devonport, has participated in group shows and developed major bodies of work since she first exhibited with the Auckland collective, Fingers, in 1981. Her jewellery has been included in the national touring exhibitions Same But Different (1996) and Grammar: Subjects and Objects (2001).

Her 2000 solo exhibition, Strain, Grate, Whisk, Scrub, toured regional galleries from Whangarei to Invercargill for 18 months.

Bern's work received a merit in the Cleveland Art Awards in 1997 and in the David Thomas Foundation Award in association with The Dowse in 2000.

For her residency project, she plans to investigate the cultural conventions of jewellery as an indicator of relationships: for instance, the diamond ring as the proclamation of engagement. Bern expects it will take a year to complete the body of new work, which will result in a major solo exhibition in 2004.

"The social and physical context in which we live and work, and the function of jewellery within that context, are concepts that link all my work," Bern says.

"I feel a strong connection with the jewellers at the Gray Street Workshop. Their work responds to personal experience but is experimental in their exploration of materials. To have the chance to work offshore with jewellers who are pushing boundaries and producing strong, honest work is extremely exciting."

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