Barbara Heath, Artisan Jeweller, Jeweller to the Lost

Early morning is magic, with the soft light, birds calling and the whole weekend still to come ...

After gazing through the windows of Melbourne’s The French Jewel Box and spying beautiful pieces of artist jewellery, a young Barbara Heath discovered her passion for jewels. Now working alongside her husband Malcolm and jeweller Juan in her Wilston studio, Barbara creates bespoke jewellery for her loyal clientele under the moniker of the Jeweller to the Lost. Alongside her custom jewellery creations, Barbara also crafts a selection of jewellery stocked at Artisan and the Gallery Store in Queensland Art Gallery. Her creative inspiration comes from the emotion and joy held within a piece of jewellery, the lavish designs of the Renaissance, the form of metal and working with it, as well as patterns of natural dappled light speckled against the built environment. The Weekend Edition caught up with Barbara to discover her weekend essentials.

How do you like to start your weekend?
I love the special quietness of weekend mornings. My routine is meditation first and then I’ll slip out for a walk with my dog. Early morning is magic, with the soft light, birds calling and the whole weekend still to come.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
Saturday morning is reserved for client meetings. The studio is empty so we can sit with a coffee to plan a commission in private. There will be trays of gems, metal samples, books and jewellery (of course) strewn across the desk. It is very special to collude and conspire like this, to share the intimate stories and motivations that are the precursor to making a significant jewel for someone. Saturday mornings spent like this inspire me.

How do you like to unwind?
My husband and I work closely together during the day, but we also like to relax and unwind together. We are both ‘hopeless homies’ and we just love our little world together – it’s crazy but it works! Incredible amounts of energy go into our work, so we need to balance that with restoring our own inner worlds.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Some time spent in the garden, as we have an old-fashioned garden with lots of trees, hens, bees and a frog pond. I enjoy the physicality of working in the garden.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
It’s been too long since I caught up with a friend for a swim at The Valley Pool.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
Maximum indulgence! A Sultan’s Kitchen takeaway curry on the sofa with a book or a movie.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
We haven’t been able to get to The 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7) at GOMA yet, as we have been busy with our annual studio sale, so it will be APT7 here we come.

What are you reading at the moment?
Fiction: A dear friend gave me Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – immersive! Non-fiction: The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia by Bill Gammage. This book has given me insight into the complex systems of land management used by Aboriginal people pre-settlement. Online: One of my all time favourite blogs, Garden History Girl.

What inspires you?
My inspiration right now is coming from the jewellers and goldsmiths of 16th- and 17th-century Europe, for their use of colour, inventive construction and the sheer magical charm of the objects they made. The Cheapside Hoard exhibition at the Museum of London has a collection of this style of jewellery.

What was your childhood dream?
I wanted to be an artist, marry an artist and make my living through creative pursuit – I have ticked all of those boxes! I also always wanted a menagerie and I’m working on that!

What has been your greatest achievement?
A mid-career exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery in 2005.

What is success to you?
Leading a balanced life, relationships with others and finding your place in the larger scheme of things.

What are your words of wisdom?
Everyone looks good in a leather jacket and eyeliner.

Only a local would know … The network of walking and cycle paths along Brisbane’s creeks is a great place to escape.

Perk up …
Coffee at Jamie’s Espresso Bar, Fortitude Valley
Relax … By the waterfront at Shorncliffe pier
Dine … The Continental Cafe, New Farm
Indulge … Pastries at Brewbakers, Albion
Shop … Northey Street Organic Markets
Catch-up … The Chelsea at The Barracks for breakfast
Be Inspired … GOMA and Queensland Art Gallery


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