Clare Poppi, a Brisbane-based jewellery maker is educating consumers about ethical jewellery.

Words by Mel Fletcher - Mel Fletcher - Clare Poppi

Camille print © Clare Poppi 

Through workshops, demonstrations and exhibitions, Clare Poppi is sharing insight about the unethical processes of jewellery making from mining to materials and offering alternatives to this global issue. “A lot of jewellery buyers and consumers are unaware of the environmental impact of jewellery and how it is made, including problems with mining and extraction,” explains Clare. “Purchasing recycled and fair trade jewellery is a good way to tackle this issue. A lot of people buy junk jewellery, which is made of junk metal and fake gemstones and therefore cannot be recycled. Junk jewellery has no value and as it isn’t made very well, it breaks very quickly and goes straight to the landfill. I want to highlight to consumers that there are other alternatives to purchase more sustainable jewellery.”

Clare has taken this green approach one step further with her ‘Growing Series’ in which she makes recycled pieces such as necklaces, pendants and bracelets that contain a vessel to hold a living plant. These delicate pieces are given to participants to look after for  1-6 life cycles

(1 cycle = 1 month), depending on the person’s commitment, with their experiences documented on a blog. These pieces of ‘living jewellery’ form a bond with the grower/ wearer and directly make an environmental statement.

Another project of Clare’s was recently exhibited in ‘CrosseXions’ at Metro Arts, Brisbane. In keeping with her theme of ethically sourced materials, Clare took it in turns making a piece of jewellery from recycled silver and ethically sourced gemstones significant to the artist. For example, another artist exhibiting, Camille Serisier recently had a new born son. "I made Camille a piece which reflected on her experience of motherhood but was also designed so that her son could interact with it - it was soft and round, too large to be swallowed and made entirely from silver which has historically been used in making teething toys for children," explains Clare.

The artist was given this intimate piece for a limited amount of time, after which the piece was melted down and reworked for the next artist in the exhibition. Next in line was artist Lynden Stone. "Lynden's piece was made for her satirical persona Angelica Leight, a mystic new-age healer who claims to heal with the "power of rose quartz" and offers colonic cleansing through her brand Sacred Gaia Healing (TM)," explains Clare. "I used the circular leaf pattern in her constructed logo and tried to make the most kitsch, gaudy piece imaginable with the materials I had available as part of the project. It was so strange working on a piece where my aim was to make it as obviously tacky as possible, and Camille was horrified that her baby necklace had been turned into a monstrosity - but it was all received with the good humour intended".

Displayed as wax replicas at the exhibition, Clare’s project is being developed along with other artists at CrosseXions and will be travelling to Kings Cross, Sydney at both The Cross Art Projects and Alaska Projects in July.

Studying a Master of Visual Arts at Griffith University, Clare also teaches jewellery workshops at Brisbane Institute of Art and FIO Contemporary Jewellery & Design. Now an artist in residence for Brisbane City Council at The Pod in Fortitude Valley, Clare is setting up a popup jewellery studio with workshop demonstrations open to the public. As well as this, Clare will be teaching an upcoming short jewellery course for beginners at Griffith University’s South Bank campus.


Words by Mel Fletcher

Published by West End Magazine 2016

Images © Clare Poppi


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Beth print © Clare Poppi