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A gem of an opportunity for graduating artist

A gem of an opportunity for graduating artist

“An amazing opportunity” is jewellery artist Vanessa Arthur’s response to becoming this year’s recipient of Toi Pōneke’s DEBLYN artist-in-residence.

The 29 year-old jewellery maker, with an eye for turning used and unwanted materials into ‘gems’ of wearable art, comes to Toi Pōneke after completing a Bachelor of Applied Art at Whitireia Polytechnic.

“To go from graduating to having a workspace I can go straight into, and to also have the solo show to work toward – it’s an amazing opportunity,” says Ms Arthur.

The residency is a joint venture between Toi Pōneke Arts Centre and local company DEBLYN Property Investments Ltd. It includes a rent-free studio for nine months, business mentorship, and costs towards materials for a solo exhibition at Toi Pōneke Gallery at the end of the residency.

“Another bonus to having a studio at the centre is that I’ll be surrounded by other artists and a wider arts community,” says Ms Arthur. “It’s a great space and creative hub.”

Although her medium is jewellery, Ms Arthur says it’s anything but delicate – describing her work as bold and colourful.

“I use a lot of reclaimed material from places like Trash Palace and second-hand shops. People don’t see the value in these materials and objects anymore, but I can see their potential.”

As well as continuing themes from previous bodies of work, Ms Arthur will explore renewal and decay within the city, consumer culture and the decline of design styles in her work this year.

“I enjoy blurring the lines between old and new. Celebrating the imperfect and impermanent, changing how people perceive everyday objects and materials.”

During her residency, Ms Arthur also hopes to start a line of works to sell and get her work into galleries within New Zealand and beyond.

To follow Vanessa Arthur’s progress during her residency, or view her latest work, visit


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