“My obsession with possessions started very early. I distinctly remember visiting museums as a child and feeling very strong urges to possess various (pocket sized usually!) artefacts and treasures that were cruelly removed behind glass.
I’m interested in what it is about specific objects (unique to each of us) that creates such a strong desire to possess that you could commit crime or potentially hurt someone else in order to fulfill your need”.
Octavia Cook is known for work that evidences an encyclopaedic interest in jewellery and its value- monetary, social, sentimental and aesthetic. Her fascination for the discipline she is trained in spans traditional forms like the cameo, mourning brooch and the locket, as well as all aspects of the packaging, marketing and provenance of jewels. In particular, she is drawn to the social role of jewellery, especially its identity-projecting possibilities. – Anna Miles
Octavia Cook’s fictitious family jewellery company ‘Cook & Co’ was founded in 2003 and has since become a global phenomenon spanning hundreds of years of real and appropriated history. Since the company´s inception Cook has immortalized her family, deceased pets and herself in large scale jewels of plastic, metal and wood.
Cook´s obsession with grandeur and global domination grew to include selected members of royalty and people of historical significance in the Cook & Co ´brand´. She has borrowed the hairstyles of Queen Elizabeth II, Captain Cook and Tsarina Alexandra Romanov (among others) and attached them to her own facial profile to create a new lineage of personalities to use as cameos within her own version of the Crown Jewels.
Octavia Cook has a Bachelor of 3D Design in Jewellery, from Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland (1995-1998). She has regularly exhibited in group and solo shows in New Zealand and internationally.
Her work in private collections and in public collections including Te Papa, The Dowse, Auckland Museum and the Govett-Brewster.
In 2011 she was selected for Schmuck, a prestigious international contemporary jewellery exhibition presented in Germany. A retrospective of her work was curated by The Dowse in 2012.
Octavia’s solo exhibitions at The National include The Possession Obsession of Cocoa Vitako (2012) and Empire Building with Old Money (2008).