Zoë Veness is a contemporary jeweller and object-maker based in Sydney, Australia. Her exhibition and curatorial projects explore notions of place, materiality and craft practice. A feature of her work is a preoccupation with intricate and repetitive forms of making that manifest in her paper folding and metal smithing methods.
Her jewellery has been selected for exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, England, Scotland, Germany, and the USA, and is held in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
She has had ten solo exhibitions at national venues and received awards such as Australia Council Visual Art grants in 2002, 2006 and 2017, and an Australian Postgraduate Award in 2011 for PhD research at Art & Design, University of New South Wales in Sydney where she currently lectures in jewellery and object design.
New Terrain in an Old World
Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre
16 November - 16 December 2017
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council,
its arts funding and advisory body.
Rising high above the city of Hobart, Kunanyi’s magnetism is keenly felt. Only a twenty minute drive from the city centre, the summit of Kunanyi, otherwise known as Mount Wellington, is a popular tourist destination for the magnificent views of Hobart and the south-eastern coastline. The view to the west however, across the top of the mountain is unexpectedly sublime. Stretching for miles is a tree-less expanse of dolerite, shrubs and lichen that during the warmer months create carpets of copper, burgundy and green hues. In Winter this expanse is transformed by snow. New Terrain in an Old World is developed in response to this ancient place where one can encounter a sense of deep time. In this body of work I depart momentarily from the paper folding methods that previously preoccupied my practice, and return to metalsmithing and photography to focus on surface detail and an interplay between small and large scales. Small vessels echo landscapes and a long loop of insect wings reference the smallest butterfly, the Ptunarra Brown, a threatened species found only in Tasmania. While the magnetism of kunanyi/Mount Wellington is portrayed in the smallest of details through a series of photographs of the summit’s dolerite surfaces that remind us of the fragile complexities of this ancient place.
Zoë Veness, 2017
Landscape photography of kunanyi/Mount Wellington by Zoë Veness
Jewellery photography by Peter Whyte
Necklaces: Remnants 2017 and Butterfly Gathering 2017. Brass, copper, sterling silver
Necklaces presented on custom made steel stands by Stuart Houghton
Vessels: A landscape of our making 2017. Brass, copper
Lapel pins: A landscape of our making 2017. Brass, copper, sterling silver
Object: Waiting for tomorrow 2017. Paper, stainless steel cable, 10 ct yellow gold
The Posterzine Project
A curatorial project with Sarah Jones
for Radiant Pavilion Melbourne Contemporary Jewellery and Object Biennial
Exhibition venue: Studio Ingot, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia
26 August - 3 September 2017
Artists: Emma Bugg, Natalie Holtsbaum, Shauna Mayben, Linda van Niekerk
A collaborative project with the School of Creative Arts, University of Tasmania and TasTAFE
Tucked away on the ground floor of the Centre for the Arts building in Hobart is the Letterpress Studio, an immaculately maintained space filled with finely-tuned machinery most of which are over a hundred years old. With the push or pull of a wheel these machines whirl to life in a hypnotic dance of cause and effect oscillating from plate to print. The fact that these machines are still operational is quite remarkable given their age and the profoundly global shift over decades from analogue to digital modes of communication. Many of these machines in the studio have been saved from extinction painstakingly cleaned and pieced back together over many years. This act of preservation was the vision of compositor and recently retired letterpress teacher, Gill Bantoft who has fortunately transferred his knowledge to Nathanael Jeanneret, now the Letterpress Studio manager.
Through this printing process the page is imbued with an embossed, tactile surface. Tracing these impressions, one is made aware of the preciousness of the printed word, for this traditional method of printing takes time. It is precisely the pace, the slowing down of time, the tactile outcome, as well as the precision of the process that interests us. Viewed through our jewellers’ eye the Letterpress Studio offers an exciting opportunity to explore an alternative means of re/presenting artists. Concealed in the centre fold of this booklet, the posterzine presents a glimpse into the world of jewellery practice in Tasmania told through the words of four artists - Emma Bugg, Natalie Holtsbaum, Shauna Mayben and Linda van Niekerk. With each conversation unique and nuanced accounts of place and community are revealed.
Zoë Veness and Sarah Jones, 2017
A Grand Collar (for Francis Ormond 1827-1889)
Created for Urban-A-Wear-Ness and made by Sabrina Evans of Sabio Designs
Radiant Pavilion Melbourne Contemporary Jewellery and Object Biennial
26 August - 3 September 2017
Installation: Francis Ormond Statue
Bowen Street, RMIT Building
Saturday 2 September 2017
Curated by Eli Giannini and Sue Buchanan (Superpleased)
Artists: Chris Massey, Jana Roman, Kate Wischusen, Katie Collins, Lindy McSwan, Pamela Chan, Superpleased, Sarah Jones, Zoë Veness
An important aspect of conserving our heritage is the ongoing telling of our cultural stories. The momentary adornment of a traditional statue is an opportunity to reconnect with something we take for granted and hardly notice - to view an historical commemorated figure from a different perspective. Our collective of artists will each install a temporary work on the statue for a day during Radiant Pavilion.
Eli Giannini and Sue Buchanan, 2017
Photo credit: Thomas O'Hara
A Grand Collar in situ
Faux sheep skin and gold devore
Ten Days of the Island Festival 2017
Domain House, Hobart
17-26 March 2017
Curatorial team: Noel Frankham, Kit Wise, Svenja Kratz, Zoë Veness
Artists: Max Angus, Paul Boam, Phillip Blacklow, Lucy Bleach, Neil Haddon,
Dorita Hannah & Sean Coyle, Bill Hart & Joe Shrimpton, Gay Hawkes, Kit Hiller,
Jan Hogan, Rob Long, Zoë Veness, Martin Walch, Kit Wise
The exhibition at Domain House commemorates the 1967 bushfires and draws together Tasmanian artists working across a range of mediums including video installation, jewellery, electronic media, sculpture and furniture, whose work responds to how fire has shaped the landscape and affected the psyche of the people that occupy this land. The title Remanence, creates links to continuance and remains, but also references and extends the scientific meaning of the term and the concept of residual magnetism to describe the invisible forces that linger long after an initial object (or event) has been detached.
In the exhibition, fire is envisaged as a destructive force and ever present treat, as well as a sculpting force and mechanism of resistance and renewal across the island.
Photography by Peter Whyte
Room 1: Rose Petal Pins 2016-2017, 62 lapel pins, brass, copper, sterling silver
and The Weight of Numbers 2016-2017, letterpress print, gold pigment
Room 2: Butterfly Gathering 2017, brass
To make an end is to make a beginning
PhD examination exhibition
ADspace Art & Design University of New South Wales
3-7 November 2014
Also exhibited as Autonomous Jewellery
Studio 20/17, Sydney, Australia
20 October - 7 November 2015
Through the poetics of loops my PhD thesis examines the paradox of autonomous jewellery as objects that are simultaneously supplemental and self-sufficient. The notion of autonomous jewellery to describe forms that are simultaneously separated from and connected to the body is based on theories about transitional phenomena in infant development articulated by D. W. Winnicott in the mid-twentieth century. Aside from certain Winnicottian concepts this research is inspired by qualities of Winnicott’s writing like playfulness, simplicity of language, and an emphasis on paradox and contradiction. The experience of reading Winnicott is a cyclical process that resonates with my framework of the loop derived from investigations in my studio research.
By fusing the ends of a long strand of folded paper my studio research explores loops in the form of necklaces. These necklaces interrogate sculptural presence and autonomy in the mind of the viewer. They are almost impossible to wear however they entice the viewer to enter the void space rendered by the loop form.
This PhD suggests that the fields of supplemental and autonomous art (jewellery and sculpture) are not opposite poles from which one moves from A to B but are more interrelated than contemporary theory allows. The thesis aims to develop a practice and mentality of object-making that brings together supplemental and autonomous sensibilities in the one work. The research therefore loops the site of the body and ‘free’ space to examine the capacity for jewellery to attain sculptural presence both on and off the body.
Zoë Veness, 2014
Photography by Orlando Luminere
Necklaces: Coil Loop: Red 2013. Paper, ink, stainless steel cable
Coil Loop: Green 2013. Paper, stainless steel cable
Coil Loops are presented on custom made Silver Ash plinths by Leon Sadubin
Double Loop: Red 2012. Paper, ink, stainless steel cable
Double Loop: Grey 2012-2013. Paper, ink, stainless steel cable
Chain Loop 2014. Paper, ink, stainless steel cable
Presented on a custom made Silver Ash stand by Leon Sadubin
Column of links for Chain Loop 2014. Paper, ink, stainless steel cable
Vessels: Objects that don't quite formulate 2011-2014. Copper, enamel, graphite
The Infinite Fold
JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design
12 September - 11 October 2009
In this exhibition the weaving and knotting methods devised during a residency in Edinburgh in 2006, further explore rhythms and tensions between materials. The fold is a central method that transforms paper strips into wearable forms with the knot necklaces signalling a momentary departure from combinations with metal. Brooches and pendants continue to integrate paper and metal in the one form with, in some cases, the introduction of vitreous enamel to test another dimension.
Zoë Veness, 2009
Photography by Zoë Veness
Wreath pendant 2009. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver, copper, vitreous enamel
Wreath brooch 2009. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver, copper, vitreous enamel
Knot necklace i (terracotta) 2009. Paper, stainless steel cable
Knot necklace ii (green) 2009. Paper, stainless steel cable
Pendant: Red/White 2009. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver
Pendant: Blue/Green 2009. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver
Australian Design Centre (formerly Object: Australian Centre for Craft and Design)
11 November 2006 - 7 January 2007
In April 2006 I visited Scotland to undertake an artist residency with the Jewellery and Silversmithing Department at the Edinburgh College of Art. During this time I was fortunate to witness Edinburgh's transition from Winter to Spring with pink blossoms emerging all over the trees in front of the neighbouring church. One morning after a night of rain I awoke to find a carpet of pink petals at the church's entrance and for days after streams of pink flowed up and down the street, piling up in the gutters and settling in between the cobblestones. This inspired the making of new work in which colour was folded in between grey.
Zoë Veness, 2006
Photography by Zoë Veness
Brooches: Wreaths 2006. Paper, stainless steel cable, sterling silver
Installation images. Project Space, Australian Design Centre, Sydney 2006
Photographs: Edinburgh cobblestones 2006
Necklace: Edinburgh Spring 2006. Paper, stainless steel cable, sterling silver
Objects: Three test pieces for jewellery 2006. Paper, stainless steel cable
Master of Design (Research) examination exhibition
Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Art & Design University of New South Wales
10-14 February 2004
In some categories of jewellery, particularly those promulgated by the commercial jewellery trade, precious materials such as gold and diamonds equate monetary value with forms of sentiment and love, social status, wealth, prestige and exclusivity. In the commercial industry ‘value’ or ‘preciousness’ is commonly associated with the predominant use of precious materials in conjunction with customary forms and techniques for the production of 'ostentatiously impressive and expensive' jewellery. Many contemporary jewellery practitioners, for whom jewellery possess the power to communicate beyond public declarations of wealth, challenge these ‘values’ by opting to employ humble, inexpensive materials as well as unconventional treatments of traditional materials.
The value of hand skills, extensive experimentation and incremental refinement as part of a process analogous to Alchemy are key areas in the research. In this context the concept of alchemy, borrowed from Game and Goring as well as from Helen W. Drutt, describes a magical transformation of materials considered worthless by mainstream society into objects of desire. The importance of these investigations is to affirm the value of the idea, of hand-work and of extensive and reflective design and making processes within contemporary jewellery practice. In broader terms though, the research aims to contribute towards an expansive and poetic vision for contemporary jewellery.
Zoë Veness, 2004
 Dormer, Peter and Turner, Ralph (1985) The New Jewelry. London: Thames and Hudson, 7.
 Game, Amanda and Goring, Elizabeth (1998) Jewellery moves – Ornament for the 21st Century. Edinburgh: NMS (National Museum of Scotland) Publishing.
 Holzach, Cornelie (2002) Peter Chang, Jewellery, Objects, Sculptures. Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers.
Photography by Blue Murder Studios
Necklace i 2003. Paper, steel cable, 925 silver
Necklace ii 2003. Plastic, 9ct and 10ct yellow gold, steel cable
Necklace iii 2003. Newspaper, steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace iv 2003. Newspaper, steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace v 2003. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace vi 2003. Paper, steel cable, 9ct and 10ct yellow gold
Necklace vii 2004. Paper (map), steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace viii 2004. Paper, ink, steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace ix 2003. Paper, steel cable, sterling silver
Necklace x 2003. Plastic, steel cable, sterling silver