Kelly McDonald completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts in the late 1990s. Following a career in the art department for film and children’s television, she moved to Wellington, New Zealand, and reconnected with jewellery. Kelly was selected for Schmuck, 2017, Munich, and Wunderruma, an international touring exhibition curated by Karl Fritsch and Warwick Freeman. Kelly was a participant in the Handshake NZ mentoring project for 4 years. She is a jewellery tutor at Whitireia NZ, a member of the collective Occupation: Artist, and window gallery group, The See Here. She is currently studying towards a Masters of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington.
Kelly’s work begins with the object and draws direct lines between people and things. Growing up amidst the largest brown coal deposit in the Southern Hemisphere, this industrial geography and a value for the pragmatic approach still influence all aspects of her making – the material choices, the historical and visual rhythms of her work, the value of and for, careful crafting. The objects are often found and utilitarian, like components of locks or the internal mechanisms of domestic machinery. Selected for their demonstration of age or time and their previous functional life, all accretions are valued.
“I see my work as a visual language, where the collaboration or arrangements of objects produces a conversation between the negative spaces and the details. This conversation makes visible systems of meaning, value and use, where each piece operates as a mnemonic.”
Kelly’s work also recognises and responds to daily life, utility and the domestic setting. Investigating a sense of home and place alongside the history of these spaces, McDonald uses materials traditionally taken from a masculine and modernist trope, and brings these into direct relation to the body using a jeweller’s sensitivity.