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Blumhardt Fund Brings Precious Memory Home

Otago Museum announced their first purchase made possible through the Blumardt Fund today. The Fund allowed the purchase of Stolen Jewels by Octavia Cook. Ms Cook is a renowned Otago-based jeweller with an international reputation. Her work is in several public collections including Te Papa, The Dowse Art Museum, Auckland War Memorial Museum and the Govett-Brewster.

“We are thrilled to have Stolen Jewels as part of our collection; it is particularly meaningful because of our connection with Manawa, who inspired the piece”, said Moira White, Otago Museum’s Curator, Humanities.

Manawa is the name of the moko kakariki jewelled gecko who was smuggled out of New Zealand to Germany in 2013. He was repatriated in 2016. Te Runaka o Otakou and DOC agreed that he could live at Otago Museum as he might have been exposed to unknown biosecurity threats, so could not be safely returned to Otago Peninsula, from where he had been taken. After four years living in the Museum, he died last year and was buried back on the peninsula.

“Manawa was special to many at the Museum and is missed deeply by many staff and visitors”, said Max Levitt-Campbell, member of Otago Museum’s Marketing staff. “It will be so great to have a remembrance of him back in the building again.”, he continued.

Stolen Jewels was made in 2018. It was inspired by the skin of the jewelled gecko and is made of acrylic and silver. The striking green, black and white inlaid elements have hand-carved surface detailing. “It is an engaging example of the potential for craft objects to help communicate important wildlife and conservation issues” said Ms White. Jeweller, Octavia Cook said of the purchase “I'm so pleased my 'Stolen Jewels' brooch has become part of the esteemed collection at the Otago Museum. Originally made as an ode to the Museum’s living taonga, it feels like it has now found a home as a tribute to Manawa's extraordinary life.”

The Blumhardt fund is administered by The Blumhardt Foundation, which was established in 2003 to realise the desire of founder Dame Doreen Blumhardt to use her collection and estate to further the collection and the development of New Zealand’s craft/object art during and beyond her lifetime. The Fund is a programme that provides matching funds to enable partners to acquire the work of leading New Zealand contemporary craft/object practitioners “We really appreciate the generosity of the Foundation in allowing us to bring something so beautiful and meaningful to our community here to the Museum”, said Ms White. “Octavia’s work is wonderful, and we are particularly grateful to Philip Clarke, and Emma Bugden for their encouragement and support”, she continued.


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