New Zealand master jeweller Warwick Freeman was first introduced to jewellery-making in Perth, Western Australia by Peter Woods in 1972. Freeman’s use of the South Seas pearl, also known as mother-of-pearl (Pinctada maxima) links his home in in Auckland in New Zealand’s north island with Western Australia where he first developed his interest in jewellery making. Pearling existed in both Australia and New Zealand for many years prior to colonisation with both Aboriginal people and Māori prizing this valuable resource for its beauty and its usefulness.
To make his Brain brooch Freeman has carved a vermicular, or worm- like, pattern into the pearl shell to make a wearable object. The pattern resembles the human brain but also the species of coral known as Brain coral. By choosing to work with this material in this way Freeman uses one marine species to suggest another with both organisms found in abundance in the Pacific Ocean.
Find Perth and Auckland on a map. Determine the distance between these two cities and the similarities and differences in terms of population, climate and culture.
Locate an object made from shell by Māori artisans and one made by Aboriginal people from around Broome in Western Australia. Sketch both to help you compare their form and function. Investigate the uses for pearls by Aboriginal and Māori prior to colonisation. Tip: Look at the work of Darell and Garry Sibosado
Draw a worm-like or vermicular pattern onto a type of material that you can easily cut around, you could try hard paper or soft plastic. Cover the surface with nail polish to create a shell-like surface and attach a clasp to the back of your object so that it can be used.