While the connection between an old recipe from the colonial era and a new exhibition of botanical jewellery by Pauline Bern might not seem immediately apparent, let the title simmer slowly for a while and you will discover that it provides an enticing clue...
Colonial Goose harks back to the early pioneering tradition in New Zealand of making do with what's on hand - in this case, owing to a scarcity of geese, the traditional English Christmas fare of roast goose was substituted for a stuffed leg of lamb or mutton, prepared in such a way that the completed dish resembled a goose, even though it wasn't.
The more fickle aspect of Colonial Goose - the one thing masquerading as another, forms the major theme of this new body of work. The Colonial Goose becomes a metaphor for deceit and mutability, an idea that Bern arrived at by way of another goose related anecdote discovered by chance during a visit to an exhibition of botanical illustrations at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Illustrated Leaves exhibition included a copy of John Gerard's Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597), and in it Bern read with fascination an account of the botanical myth of the 'goose barnacle tree' on the Isle of Man - a tree popularly believed to have barnacles that opened and gave birth to geese. In Gerard's fantastical description of the goose barnacle tree, Pauline Bern recognised the creative potential of intermingling fact and fiction in a botanical context, and this led her to create her own version of New Zealand botanical jewellery, but with a twist.
The misadventures of a backyard naturalist perhaps best describes Bern's method, for the jewellery in Colonial Goose results from the Frankensteinian process of grafting together particular pieces from different plants to create new species that could never, in actuality, exist.
'I want the works to elicit curiosity, intrigue, surprise, humour and perhaps nostalgia,' Bern states. 'I am not attempting to emulate botanical forms, rather to appropriate the extraordinary, unexpected, and often un-noticed details in nature, into a contemporary jewellery context.'
Exerpt from a text by Bronwyn Lloyd
Corallium Argentum $1,400
Brooch: fine and stg silver, coral
Silver Swarm $1,400
Brooch: fine and stg silver, brass mesh
Physocarpa Corallium $700
Brooch: 9ct gold, coral, swan plant, nikau nut flowers
Physocarpa Argentum $900
Necklace: swanplant, nikau nut, rose thorn, silver
Aqua Rosa Argentum $1,750
Brooch: fine and stg silver, pearls, citrine beads
Rosa Argentum $1,250
Necklace: rose thorn and wood, fine silver
Nikau Shell Rose $1,400
Necklace: 18ct gold, silver, shell, ink, nikau nut, rose wood citrine beads
Fern Flower $700
Necklace: 18ct gold, glass and shell beads, fern stem
Dicksonia Podocarpus $900
Necklace: neritina shell, totara leaves, fern stem, glass beads