Natural Selection

Julie Blyfield,

March 10 to April 2, 2009

References to botanical sources and collections have inspired and influenced the design of my jewellery and vessel work. We are currently living in drought conditions and must conserve our limited supplies of water. In our gardens and surrounding environment, trees are dying and the landscape is changing. I reflected upon this situation while undertaking a trip to the desert country in the north - east of South Australia where I collected a range of plant specimens. Examining these collections revealed remarkable adaptations to the extreme desert conditions, such as drought and bush fire. The forms and colours inspired my work and in some cases I have incorporated the plant materials into the design and construction of my jewellery pieces.

My initial research also involved an investigation of Aboriginal and Pacific artefact collections in storage at the South Australian Museum where I was able to study the diverse use of plant materials and techniques used by Indigenous people in the making of their body ornaments. In documenting items, I became intrigued by the processes involved in the making of artefacts for ceremonial and decorative purposes. I gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of the level of skills and techniques utilised by the Indigenous people who made them. I recorded details of the finely crafted string made from human hair and the diverse varieties of plant materials. I documented body ornaments made from seeds, feathers and shells which were carefully threaded, shaped, and coloured. Their exquisite designs were striking in the repetition of pattern, shape and form.

An integral part of my project involved travel to the Simpson and Tirrari deserts, north and south of the Copper Creek in north-eastern South Australia where I photographed and collected materials, including plant specimens. This research trip informed the design and content of my new jewellery work. Before finalising my designs I experimented with using a variety of materials including string, dead tree sticks, paper, seeds and as well, paint. It was a natural progression to expand from predominately using silver, copper and bronze to explore utilising ‘fragile and light’ natural materials in my new jewellery pieces. Finding my ‘visual language’ in natural materials was a challenge for me, and focused my new work into different forms resulting in Natural Selection, a collection of brooches and neckpieces.

Julie Blyfield
January 2009


Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax

Work from Natural Selection

Group of necklaces by Natural Selection Group of necklaces, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, textile, wax
Two necklaces by Natural Selection Two necklaces, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, textile, wax
Group of necklaces by Natural Selection Group of necklaces, 2009, oxidised silver, paint, acacia wood, 22k gold, wax
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax
Burnt quandong seed necklace by Natural Selection Burnt quandong seed necklace, 2009, quandong seeds, cotton tape, paint, oxidised silver, wax
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, desert acacia wood, paint, 22k gold
Group of brooches by Natural Selection Group of brooches, 2009, oxidised silver, quandong seeds, paint, acacia wood, wax

Artists involved