Adelaide-based jeweller and metalworker Julie Blyfield is renowned for her use of the traditional techniques of chasing and repoussé to produce delicate works of jewellery that reference the preserved Australian floral specimens in natural history collections. Australian flora has long held the attention of Australian jewellers, with the motifs of wattle, grass trees and gum blossoms used by many nineteenth-century Australian colonial gold- and silversmiths. Blyfield has paid particular attention to the unique texture and detail of natural subjects as seen in Margaret’s pressings brooch, 2007

I really enjoy working with all plant forms but particularly the Australian eucalypts, wattles, and other native plants. Quite often, my eye is attracted to the simple leaf and petal forms I collect on walks in my neighbourhood or places we visit in the remote desert of northeast South Australia. The diverse range of native grasses and exotic plants, including a quandong tree, succulents, and gardenias in our garden, inspire me
Julie Blyfield
  • Why do you think some Australian jewellers remain fascinated with Australian flora?
  • What grows in your garden? As a class make a list of all the flora that you see regulalry either at home or school.
  • Discover another contemporary artist who is inspired by Australian flora and compare their work to that of Blyfield.
  • Select three examples of Australian flora you notice either on your way to school, in your school grounds or in your garden at home. Imagine you are explorer encountering these plants for the first time. Write detailed descriptions of these species including diagrams. Identify and investigate these species based on your observations. How many of the plants you observed are endemic? As a class discuss the importance of endemic species and issues surrounding introduced flora.

Using catering foil create a wearable work of art which captures an aspect of Australian flora. Begin by observing a variety of Australian plant specimens and completing a series of drawings that document size, colour, texture and detail. Is your specimen fragile or robust? How might you capture these qualities in your work of art? Consider using the techniques chasing and repoussé.