Nadine Cameron

Nadine Cameron is a Brisbane-based jeweller and artist. Her work straddles private commissions and public exhibitions. She conceives of her practice as twofold; her jewellery designs are quite separate to her artwork, however the processes and methods are shared between both. Her artworks usually take the form of her signature 'medals'. These explore the history of family traditions, adornment, and heraldry, focussing on the symbology inherent in emblems and insignia. Nadine has a keen interest in fashion, and is an avid collector and wearer of vintage clothing.

You come from a background studying art history and have experience as a curator. How did you come to work with jewellery and do you position your work: as art or design?

I have been making work for many years and just seem to have an affinity with metal. I have always had a broad interest in the arts, having first studied music at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, and music, ballet, and art making were always part of my world growing up. Music is so honest and being part of orchestral performances with 60 musicians creating essentially one unified sound together can be quite astounding at times. The way emotion and intensity in music can creep up on you can be quite beguiling; in many ways it is such an immediate experience. The depth of intense musical studies is a very solid ground to build upon other artistic pursuits.

My practice is two fold. I design and create jewellery pieces and I have a separate body of work that are artworks. I use materials and methods traditionally used for gold and silver smithing to create 3 dimensional artworks and always refer to my medals as such. My work explores the notions of adornment and heraldry, the tradition of family emblems and insignia and the meaning imbued in them. The idea of the medal, crest or insignia also connotes a musing on how filial pride is vested in one physical symbol embraced by a lineage of generations. Other concepts I am interested in and am exploring in a new body of work are ideas of ‘the seer’, and the rich, intriguing history surrounding scrying, divination, astronomy, celestial bodies and above all beauty in the universal systems of nature.

When creating new pieces you are often working closely with individual clients who have something quite personal in mind, how do you balance your own identity as a designer alongside fulfilling a commission?    

It is interesting, people often come to me with a strong sense of what they want and this sets the starting point for the work. But usually when I present an idea or alternative that builds upon a personal brief clients respond very positively.

Tell us how you came to be interested in fashion…

I don’t really know, I just always was I guess. For me it is not so much fashion but beauty, beauty in all things, not just bodily adornment. Saying this though I love to dress, I am an aesthete and as part of that I do find the whole world of fashion fascinating. It it so wrapped up, intermingled and influenced by so many different things. The perpetual beat of change through the seasonal collections is constant and fascinating and I am intrigued by the notion of looking and being looked at. Something I want to eventually explore further in my art practice is the idea of the dandy across both genders, and how I consider the street almost as a performance stage. I see the idea of dressing well and with thought as a valid contribution to a vibrant society. It is also passive access for someone who may not go to organised art events like an orchestral concert, art gallery, opera or ballet, but it is presented to them, right there in the street, they don’t have to seek it out and they just might like it. As a shy young girl I concluded that if I’m going to be looked at then I may as well make something more interesting of that situation by constructing an image that directly challenges those that look! And of course, beauty is fleeting and sad. I suppose it is almost about romanticising the melancholy of beauty for me.

Where do you look for inspiration on matters of style?

With regard to fashion, rather than style, I think it just all sinks in subliminally. I don’t purchase or subscribe to any fashion magazines or follow any blogs. It is quite strange, if I do actively seek out ‘fashion’ literature or the like I find I often get confused and distracted from my own natural style. Saying this though I obviously am influenced by current trends in fashion. I guess I look at fashion through the window of history – the Ancient Egyptians/Greeks and all the way through – Alexander Mc Queen, Vivian Westwood, YSL, Tom Ford, Gaultier and early Thierry Mugler and Margiela. I do think that Chanel was quite a genius and I respond to her observations of the world and how she lived within it. Regarding style, I know exactly what I like and what I don’t like and always have. It’s one thing I have complete confidence in. If an ensemble I put on works for me, it works. It is human instinct to adorn your body. I like to tell a story with my dress, albeit maybe a completely ambiguous one. I might have one story in mind but I am happy for someone to interpret that story in their own way.

I oscillate quite a bit from conservative to avant-garde.

What is your most treasured dress-related object or memory?

I did love the deep, rich green velvet floor length gown my Mother made for me out of a pair of my Grandmother’s curtains as a Medieval costume when I was about 14! I must ask her if it is still in the cupboard full of ballet costumes!

Give us three words, people or places you associate with Queensland fashion…

Individual

Light

Earnest

Is there such a thing as a distinct Queensland style?

Not that I have observed. I really don’t think so, but I do think there are certain Queensland individuals with a wonderful and idiosyncratic sense of style.

Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, chalcedony and war issue ribbon, (unawarded), 2006
Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, chalcedony and war issue ribbon, (unawarded), 2006Nadine Cameron
Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, Queensland Spherolite Rhyolite and Scottish Cameron hunting tartan, (awarded), 2006
Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, Queensland Spherolite Rhyolite and Scottish Cameron hunting tartan, (awarded), 2006Nadine Cameron
Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, moonstone and war issue ribbon (unawarded), 2006
Nadine Cameron, Medal of fine silver, moonstone and war issue ribbon (unawarded), 2006
Nadine Cameron wearing a collar of her own design
Nadine Cameron wearing a collar of her own designMelissa Draper

Published in , on September 10, 2013.