19th century bling – Goldfields jewellery

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Melbourne PR agencies

Saturday 16 April – Monday 4 July, 2016

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Not only did the Australian goldfields overturn the political system and the landscape, jewellery made from the newly discovered gold also upset the conventions of the day.

Gold found in the Ballarat goldfields was made into jewellery that reflected the raucous, political life there. 19th Century Bling explores a little known part of history and the impact of Australian goldfields jewellery in the socio political landscape of Australia.

Historically, only the monarchy and aristocracy wore classically designed gold jewellery. On the goldfields however, lucky lower social classes had access to wealth, and they were determined to show it through their clothes and jewellery.

The jewellery created for miners and their families when they struck gold was ostentatious and often related to non-traditional emblems like the tools they used including picks, shovels, spades, pistols and pans.

Diggers’ jewellery was the “bling” of its day and it represents the diggers’ claim for legitimacy and power. This project will showcase significant objects and history from the Australian goldfields 1851 to 1901.

The physical and digital exhibition and research presented will reveal the stories of the creators and wearers of this amazing jewellery.

Lola Montez will feature as a central character. She was an Irish adventurer and performed a “Spanish” dance to entertain diggers. She came to Ballarat after a colourful life in Europe including as the mistress of Louis I of Bavaria.

She was very popular in Ballarat and was paid in gold nuggets and jewellery. Lola’s Spider dance apparently caused a sensation in Ballarat.

The aim of the exhibition is to highlight history and innovations in 19th century gold jewellery design in Australia as direct result of gold rushes and the migration of styles nationally and internationally.

The social function and stylistic influences of digger’s jewellery will be examined alongside examples of pieces made from Australian gold using European and Australiana motifs.

M.A.D.E has gathered over 150 pieces of this rare jewellery for exhibition. We will trace the story of this subversive jewellery around Australia and overseas.

Pieces have largely come from private collectors and those with family heirlooms including pieces from California, South Africa, Alaska Queensland, West Australia, South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Tasmania.

A catalogue of essays from at least six experts will be produced. Some of the stories have not been heard before.

M.A.D.E is partnering with Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum to present part of the exhibition, supply jewellery, artworks and associated materials and to develop a festival of events around the show.

There will be program of workshops, lectures and education offerings.

M.A.D.E has received funding from the Ian Potter Foundation, the Gordon Darling Foundation and the Ballarat Technology Park of Federation University.

The exhibition will also be placed on Google Cultural Institute as an important international platform.

M.A.D.E Director Jane Smith said “This is an exciting collaboration to bring a little known and wonderful aspect of Australian goldfields history to a national and international audience. The design and manufacture of these pieces of jewellery and what they represent in terms of a new world order is extraordinary. ”

Pro Vice Chancellor Mal Vallance said “Federation University Australia is delighted to support M.A.D.E and it co-sponsors in this outstanding event. The partnership between the University and M.A.D.E is an obvious one as both organisations are committed to building knowledge, understanding and placing a genuine value on our history. Hence we are delighted to get involved with the 19th Century Bling exhibition, it will be fascinating”.

key
Goldfields mining brooch
Private Collection

When:
Saturday 16 April – Monday 4 July, 2016

Where:
M.A.D.E – Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka
102 Stawell Street South
Ballarat

Entry including Ballarat Locals:
Adult $12, Children 6-15 $8, U5 free
More information: www.made.org/whats-on/

M.A.D.E is one of Australia’s newest museums and commemorates the role of the Eureka Stockade in shaping our nation. It is located on the site of the 1854 Eureka Stockade uprising in Ballarat. M.A.D.E explores both the evolution of democracy and how it has shaped cultures and countries around the world and also looks to its future. Using art installations and immersive, interactive content, M.A.D.E inspires people to contemplate what issues are important to them today.
M.A.D.E is the winner of the 2015 MAGNA Innovation Award.
Please visit www.made.org for more information
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