Nicky Hepburn sees jewellery differently in Worn Land at The Goods Shed

Nicky Hepburn. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Nicky Hepburn. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

WA holds a special place in contemporary jeweller Nicky Hepburn’s heart, despite spending much of her life in Melbourne.

“I was born at St John of God Mt Lawley and my family lived in Perth until we moved to Melbourne when I was two,” Hepburn said.

“My dad, Alistair Hepburn, was a town planner who was employed to redesign the city of Perth (in the 1950s); you can Google him.

“Both our parents have passed away now and dad never told us just how much he did but my sisters and I are learning while back here for a visit. It’s been a lovely trip down memory lane.”

In fact, Alistair co-authored the 1955 Plan for the Metropolitan Region of Perth and Fremantle, which has been a blueprint for town planning and Hepburn Avenue was named after him.

His daughter’s connection to the state also heads north to the Pilbara, where in 2014 Hepburn was one of four jewellery artists in residency at FORM’s Spinifex Hill Studios in South Hedland.

She was joined by Yuko Fujita, Pennie Jagiello and Natalia Milosz-Piekarska.

“We had a fabulous time, taking in the landscape and working with indigenous artists,” Hepburn said.

“It’s such a beautiful environment of red dirt, big sky and yellow Spinifex; it’s a contrast of different colours, textures and light.

“And then you go somewhere like Karijini National Park with its gorges and rock and I just wanted to try and capture the essence in my works.”

All four artists have their jewellery displayed in FORM exhibition Worn Land at The Goods Shed in Claremont until November 16.

More: Historic The Goods Shed opens in Claremont

Hepburn said she used alternative found materials from the Pilbara in her pieces, including pumice, shell, natural resin and sap which she remelted to make beads.

“It probably boils down to a personal understanding of what preciousness can be,” she said.

“I’m not taking anything away from gold, silver and gems, I love them equally and I make my living making precious jewellery, but I also consider pieces created from alternative materials.

“I think it’s fun and interesting to look laterally and I think as children we all went for walks and collected little gumnuts and things like that.

“I think it’s good for us to look at those things again in a different light; to see jewellery differently.”

Hepburn and other artists will run a series of workshops and discussions inspired by Worn Land until October 16.

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What: Worn Land

Where: The Goods Shed, corner Shenton Road and Claremont Crescent, Claremont

When: until November 16