"The exhibition title BECKY WENT VIRAL, whose name is shared by one of the few gold necklaces in the show, came from a chat with a colleague who was talking about an artist friend of ours. Their work was “everywhere” and selling well too. Of course “going viral” is a recent phenomenon in our social media world, but I’d never heard of an actual person going viral. Then covid hit and this randomly collected phrase now has another meaning too."
New Zealand artist Lisa Walker constantly challenges the conventions of preciousness in her jewelry. Found objects, toys, and stuffed fabric forms come together in surprising colors and exaggerated scales through her unconventional process. And when precious metals are used, they are often assembled in the simplest of manners and strung up humbly with thread. Walker forgoes the use of gemstones but is keen to pay tribute with by outlining them on painted wood. Crafts such as sewing, and embroidery are employed boldly ensuring there is no mistake that this is a power move – a feministic 'owning' of crafts traditionally bestowed upon women– as well as a direct challenge to what those traditions state about beauty. Several pieces in the exhibition employ ceramic elements - or, in the case of the necklace Vases I Wouldn't Have Painted If I Hadn't Been To Driving Creek- the memories of ceramics, from a 2021 residency at the NZ ceramics center Driving Creek.
In speaking about her work, Walker States, “I research the differences between an acceptable notion of beauty or stereotype, and something else – the search for an aesthetic that we hardly ever see, but nevertheless perhaps recognize. I don't want to make pieces that are easily steered through our established channels, I want people to be forced to work on new syllogisms, analogies, and positions. I am continually pushing towards the extreme and see this is a method which enables an expansion in thinking and ways of working.
I use a large range of materials and techniques.
I make reactionary work, consciously active with influences from all walks of culture and life. The pieces are often laced with references to contemporary jewellery of the last forty years, questioning and researching what jewellery means, what it can be.
I position my work around the history, future, and boundaries of jewellery. I make pieces for the future. Everything is food for art”. LW
Lisa Walker was born in 1967 in Wellington, New Zealand, She studied Craft and Design at Otago Poltechnic Art School in Dunedin from 1988-89. After travelling for two years around Australia, Great Britain and Asia, establishing small workshops as she went, she returned to New Zealand and founded Workshop 6 with other jewellers in Auckland. From 1995-2001 she was a student of Otto Künzli at the Akadamie der Bildenden Künste in Munich, Germany. She established her studio in Munich from 2002-2009, returning to Wellington in 2009 where she is still currently based.
She has exhibited widely in galleries and museums internationally and has work in many international collections. She has received numerous awards and prizes including Foerderpreis der Stadt Muenchen in 2007, the Francoise van den Bosch Award in 2009 and the Arts Laureate Award of the New Zealand Arts Foundation in 2015.
Becky Went Viral is Lisa Walker's first solo exhibition with Ornamentum.