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There seems to be a mass exodus of people leaving Dunedin and heading to Melbourne at the moment.
I get it, I did it myself when I was younger! However I don't like seeing all these talented people leaving this fair city . . . I want to keep you all, plus I just have mad FOMO when people move to Melbs because it's the best city ever and it makes me envious.
I totally understand the appeal of relocating to a larger, warmer and more cosmopolitan city, particularly if you're an artist. Rebecca Shearer is another local who has recently immigrated to Oz. I caught up with Rebecca to see how she's enjoying her new life in the land down under and what she's been up to with her jewellery brand 'Scarlett'.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Dunedin in 1991.
When, what and where did you study?
I studied a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Jewellery and Metalsmithing at Dunedin School of Art from 2010-2013. I'd recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in creating contemporary jewellery, however for anyone more interested in learning to design and make fine or traditional jewellery, Peter Minturn Goldsmith School in Auckland is a great option.
Did you always want to be a jeweller? if you weren't creating jewellery, what would you be doing?
As a kid I was very creative, and I always did a lot of art projects. I spent a lot of time making jewellery and would always give things I'd made as gifts... It was a bit cute. Towards the end of high school I decided to go to art school, and as soon as I saw jewellery and metal-smithing was an option, I knew I had to do it. Being able to do things like melt and form metal to make anything I wanted was something I found so exciting and fulfilling. If I wasn't making jewellery, I'd probably be doing something like fashion design, directing or styling fashion editorial shoots, or something else creative and aligned with fashion.
When did you start your label?
I think I decided on "Scarlett Jewellery Label" while I was still at art school, and I released my first collection "Absence" in 2013 when I was working out of Dowling Street Studios. This was a great starting point for me, and I began selling pieces from this collection in Company of Strangers store.
Why did you decide to start your own jewellery brand?
Firstly, because jewellery making is not something you get a job doing, unless you have done a more technical course to become a trade jeweller. Secondly, because I really enjoy making jewellery and other creative endeavours such as directing photo shoots, so creating my own brand seemed like a good platform for me to achieve creative fulfilment.
Where did the name Scarlett come from?
Scarlett is my middle name. I wanted to include an element of myself in my brand name, as well as have it be clear what it was, so Scarlett Jewellery Label was just the obvious choice.
How would you describe your jewellery? Where do you seek inspiration for your work?
I would describe my jewellery as quite minimal and innovative, and as an ongoing quest for improvement. I always try to take every collection I make as a new opportunity to improve on my skills, and to explore new ways of making. I am inspired by combining shapes together, drawing pictures, and creative problem solving. I find myself taking note of ways that fine jewellery is constructed, and then add my own aesthetic or my own interpretation to it.
How many collections have you released so far?
Four. I'm actually thinking about moving away from doing collections, and just releasing smaller drops a little more frequently. Full collections take such a long time to put together, and working full time makes it even more difficult. Creating smaller mini collections will mean I'm able to show new work more often, and will keep the process fresh and exciting for customers as well as for myself.
If you could choose one famous person to wear your jewellery who would it be?
I found this question pretty difficult as I'm not super interested in celebrities, but I think Lorde would look pretty cool in some of the pieces I'm working on at the moment!
Why did you decide to move to Melbourne?
I went to Melbourne with a friend when I was 21, just for a week, and during my time there decided I would eventually move when the time was right. I was in love with the creativity I saw all around me, and the sense of opportunity. I finished studying, then spent two years working in retail and making jewellery from art studios throughout Dunedin. I really enjoyed these times, but eventually I knew I had to move on otherwise my work would get boring and repetitive, and I also wanted to find a career relevant job, which wasn't going to happen unless I moved on.
What are the pros and cons of being an artist here in comparison to there?
Moving to Melbourne was a really positive change for me. I was lucky to find the perfect studio space almost right away, a shared space located inside the Century Building in the CBD. This is one of three high rise buildings in the city that's full of jewellers. If I need supplies, advice, or gemstones, all of these things are only minutes away. The space is shared with five other jewellers, all of whom are much more talented and experienced than myself, so I benefit hugely from their mentoring, and as well as this they have a great set up and a lot of tools which they share with me. I'm also very grateful to have a job as a jewellery designer and salesperson for one of Australia's leading fine jewellery houses, Cerrone Jewellers. I spend my days designing custom jewellery, and sourcing diamonds and gemstones for my clients at Cerrone, and then I walk one minute around the corner to my studio and make jewellery there at night and on my days off. I love so many things about Dunedin, but it is just really hard to get better at something when there's no one to teach you how, you have to just figure things out for yourself.
The positives of being a jeweller in Dunedin is that it's easier to get your work noticed because there are less people making jewellery, and because the market is less saturated, people are much more likely to support emerging brands and artists. You can count on Dunedin people to show up to your events and take notice of what you're putting out into the world. People are also a lot more conscious of the brands they're wearing and the stories behind clothes and accessories, in Melbourne it seems to be more about the look.
Would you ever return to Dunedin?
My family and a lot of close friends live in Dunedin so I'll always come back and see my favourite people. I want to come back in summer for a few weeks!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I can't wait to show everyone all the jewellery I'm working on at the moment, hopefully it will be ready in August! I want to collaborate with lots of stylists and photographers to get my work in a lot more editorial shoots, and would love to see my pieces in magazines in the near future. I also want to start working with gold, and making more impressive and expensive pieces. I also plan on showing work to a lot more stockists, and making Scarlett Jewellery Label a well known brand.