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Karin Beaumont - Jeweller Profile


KARIN BEAUMONT Black and white image of Karin Beaumont of Oceanides Jewellery sitting amongst trees. Text reads FIND Contemporary Jewellery Collective, Jewellery Profile, Karin Beaumont

Karin’s work is inspired by her background as a marine biologist: the microscopic shapes and forms she observed while working as a scientist in Antarctica. Her love of story-telling and her interest in the role of adornment in ancient cultures led her to combine science with art to promote the beauty and importance of these creatures.

 

Origins & Development...


Growing up, Karin either had her nose in a book, absorbing stories or returned home with grazed knees, blisters, or some other imprint of the rough and tumble of exploring the outdoors.

From an early age she was also fascinated with Egyptian artefacts and their cultural significance and, as she has matured, she has been drawn to Aboriginal art & culture. She is interested in how these cultures have and continue to use jewellery in story-telling, rituals, and knowledge transfer throughout generations.



Education & Art...


Karin’s strong connection to nature and sense of adventure led her to pursue a degree in applied science and post-graduate study in marine biology, culminating in a PhD studying the role of microscopic marine animals on carbon capture by the Southern Ocean. Her PhD research fulfilled her childhood dream to live and work in Antarctica, undertaking two Antarctic summer field trips as well as another seven Antarctic voyages.



Analysis of her field samples required many hours looking down a microscope in the laboratory. Here she observed a myriad of beautiful shapes and forms. She realised this was a privilege and something most people did not get to see. Given her interest in objects and artefacts, it seemed a natural progression to use art, specifically jewellery, to showcase the beauty and importance of microscopic marine life and share knowledge gained from her scientific research with others. To learn the necessary silversmithing skills, in 2004, she embarked on a Diploma in Art, Craft, Design (jewellery making) in her home state of Tasmania.

 

Early Design...


Always up for a challenge, on the first day of her Diploma course, Karin drew upon the design of the alga Dactyliosolen antarcticus to create a cuff bangle that demonstrated the technique of piercing with a jeweller's saw.


Electron microscopy image of Dactyliosolens

Little did she know this would become one of her ‘signature’ pieces and such a rewarding design; leading to a mentorship with the esteemed Australian designer, Robert Foster and the team at Fink & Co design. Over the past twenty years, the Aluma cuff has and continues to be worn by 18-80 year olds with heart-warming stories from those who wear their cuff everyday in work, play, on land and in the sea.

 

Materials, Form & Function...


Karin’s favourite designs to make and to wear are cuffs and bangles, as well as brooches because they lend themselves to being simple, unfussy and easy to wear. A medium to present simple yet striking designs which are crafted in bare metal, and only adorned using different finishes and patinas.


Working purely with metal is challenging as the design alone must capture the eye. As the Italian fashion designer, Maurizzio Galente, said it can be more difficult to create an interesting design with a plain piece of fabric than a patterned one. This was reinforced by renowned Australian jewellers Mari Funaki and Marian Hosking whose mentoring enlightened Karin to the strength in minimal and subtle forms. Brooches visually stand alone unencumbered by any form of attachment. They are mini-sculptures that can make a powerful statement. An example of this is former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s collection and exhibition ‘Read my Pins’.

 

Where possible, Karin likes to integrate the functional elements into the overall design of a piece. Recent works such as her Float pins show the pin through the front of the brooch integral to the design.

In her Ocean Planet wire brooches, the pin is sympathetic to the design and can be displayed or not depending on how much fabric is threaded through the pin.


In recent years, Karin has undertaken short workshops in ceramics, mosaics, and painting. Creating in a media that is new to her encourages her to think laterally and experiment with new jewellery designs and techniques. In addition, collaborative projects and exhibitions working with artists in different media have been extremely rewarding and integral to Karin’s development in her practice, especially the Latitude project and exhibition working with Aboriginal artist Vicki West utilising kelp.


a series of three brooches, titled Topology Brooches, stand in a row on a white background, The brooches are made of kelp and sterling silver and are handmade by Karin Beaumont of Oceanides Jewellery

Style...


Karin’s early work was quite literal, but throughout her jewellery career her work has become more abstract while still retaining a strong environmental focus and ethos. The progression of her work reflects her observations, experiences, and lessons learnt along the way; a visual diary of her life’s work, hobbies, and interests. Progressing from an Antarctic focus to a broader Gondwanan connection reflects her past decade working as a Tasmanian tour guide as well as explorations and adventures had while bushwalking and camping around Australia.



Her current work explores a more personal connection to the natural landscape and an awareness of how our identity is formed and shaped by our environment.

 

The accompanying note to her recent FORM series states:

“These pieces are inspired by natural shapes: boulders, plate tectonics, ice floes…, and their formation and degradation. We often think of weathering, erosion, and ageing as negative processes, but they can be beautiful and transformative”


The Form Pendant by Karin Beaumont of Oceanides Jewellery

Inclusivity & Story-telling...


While her style has changed over time, there is a constant strength in Karin’s designs that means her pieces can be worn by people of any age, gender, body size and shape. Making jewellery that is inclusive and accessible to all is an important part of her making philosophy, as is the sharing of stories and knowledge with her customers. In fact, all of Karin’s jewellery has a note accompanying the piece that describes the importance of the specific creature that inspired the design.

 

Karin is rewarded and humbled by how her work becomes part of her customer's lives: ...  a father purchasing three cuff bracelets as a means of connecting him with each of his children even when they are apart; a widow replacing a lost wedding ring… One most recent example was in response to her new range of ‘Euglena’ bangles in which a customer wrote upon receiving them in the mail: “a beautiful and unique shape-form for the wrist… It takes me right back to my Science class in year 8 years ago where I first encountered the Euglena... saw one magically appear through the microscope... and drew diagrams of it in my Science notebook!”



Artistic Philosophy...


Karin’s artistic journey reflects and mirrors her life journey. She believes Art is not a job. It is part of our life, and an expression of our values and interpretation of the world whether that is in nature, society, or politics. When you buy a piece of art, you are not just purchasing a material object, but also all the passion, thought and energy that goes into the design and creation of the piece.

 

The jewellery Karin creates embodies her sense of nature’s preciousness. By bringing nature into our personal and intimate space, she hopes it quietly encourages us to reconnect with and value the natural world.


Karin Beaumont of Oceanides Jewellery stands in the foreground of a Tasmanian Forest

To explore more of Karin Beaumont's work please visit...

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