Local jeweller Lisa Capon is working on some new treasures. Scheduled for a showing at Jasmine Jan’s Studio Gallery, the brooches and pendants are composed of hearts riveted onto layers of mottled metal and encircled by radiating faded patterns. The pieces are currently arranged at Capon’s studio workbench in chocolate box fashion, as though they’ve been given space to present themselves. Certainly the attention to detail manifest in each requires a little time to appreciate – viewers may otherwise easily miss the etched words hiding on the backs of some pieces, or the subtle textures particular to others.
“I spend a long time on them,” Capon nods wryly, going on to sketch some of the processes that go into just one of the works – sawing, filing, polishing, soldering, colouring, drilling and riveting just the tip of the iceberg. “There is a fair bit of technical know-how involved,” she concedes. It sounds like an understatement.
The meticulous way Capon approaches her craft issues from a real deference for the objects and materials themselves, beyond the way they may contribute to a finished work. “You can buy patterned metal, but I don’t,” she shrugs. “And although I have worked with old tins with beautiful designs or colour on them, I’m not into cannibalising old things to make new things unless it’s going to be a beautiful object that’s going to have a long life. Objects for me are triggers to memory, and memory is really important to me. I’m quite a sentimental person.”
As if to prove her point, Capon brings out a couple of 20th century artefacts she has salvaged from expeditions to the tip. Scrubbed up they now rest in serene retirement around her studio, at least until Capon creates a piece worthy of incorporating them. One a cast-iron stove flu door, the other a vintage air vent – they both quite discretely belong to a now-distant time for a now-distant purpose.
Capon turns to the inherent power she sees in objects both old and new when creating her own jewellery. “What I’m drawing from at the moment are matters of the heart: love and longing and a bit of homesickness,” Capon says, referring to the pieces on her workbench. “There are doily patterns that remind me of my grandmother and my mother, and of Adelaide. And the heart – emotions and the way we feel about things has always been really poignant.”
Capon’s work can generally be characterised by a concern with taking the wearer on explorations into meanings latent within their own tactility and materiality. Although viewers have missed their chance with Capon’s more ephemeral past creations – such as strings of rosary beads fashioned out of finely drilled, untempered anti-depressant pills – Capon does intend to exhibit pieces from previous bodies of work at this imminent exhibition. One of these include a series of smooth concave-shaped brooches, each carrying a secret message of endearment to the wearer in Braille. Intended to echo that indent above a person’s collarbone, the brooches are intimate in their form and feel. “I just love the idea of Braille in that someone who gives you that brooch chooses that message, and then it’s only you and that person who knows what it says,” she says. “But it’s actually quite tricky to do, setting a rivet in a concave shape. You need to take care otherwise you can mar the metal.”
From her patience with finicky methods to her recognition that the materials that compose her work have their own meaning and power, Capon’s jewellery is something to be seen up close and from several angles to be really seen. “The jewellery is designed to be handled and fondled,” she reveals. “It’s completely out of the glass case. I want to make things that speak to people, and to start a conversation with somebody else that notices them.”
You can treat your mum to a trip out of town this Mother’s Day to the rural creative haven that is Jasmine Jan’s Studio Gallery. Lisa Capon’s jewellery will be exhibited and available to buy throughout the Studio Gallery’s Sunday Showcase for May, along with the work of several other established Top End artists.
When: Every Sun in May | 10am-4pm
Where: Jasmine Jan Studio Gallery, 75 Herring Rd, Lambells Lagoon
First published at Off The Leash website