Object: Leaf cross
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Freeman, Warwick (jeweller), 1994, Devonport
|Medium summary||Rolled gold leaves attached with twisted steel wire|
x 83mm (Length)
x 6mm (Width/Depth)
|Credit line||Purchased 2002|
Leaf Cross was created by Warwick Freeman in 1994. A difficult brooch to make, Leaf Cross is made from a single piece of stainless steel wire, the length of which was pre-determined since Freeman started in the middle of the wire rather than at either end. The fine gold leaves have been rolled and burnished to make them strong and shiny, and then twisted into place on the wire, giving the brooch resilience and strength.
Leaf Cross is related to Freeman's long-standing interest in stars. Like a star, a cross has four points, which, despite the differences in medium, connects Leaf Cross to works such as Large Star (1990), also in Te Papa's collection. Freeman's original sketches for Leaf Cross used stone leaves rather than gold leaves, which related the original idea to Green Star, a brooch made in 1991. For technical reasons Freeman shifted materials, and Leaf Cross was the result.
While it is impossible to accurately identify the various sources that feed into the creation of a single work of art, Leaf Cross is a result of at least four different stimuli. Firstly, it develops Freeman's interest in nature. Plant forms have been used in European gold and silversmithing for centuries, and there is a significant body of contemporary jewellery that also interprets natural forms. Secondly, Leaf Cross plays a formal game, similar to that of the star brooches, in which subjects are transformed into cultural signs. A plant's leaves don't really look like geometric ovals, in the same way that a star doesn't really look like Freeman's four-pointed design. Thirdly, Leaf Cross started with drawings of trees and leaves given to Freeman by his daughter. This in turn led to, fourthly, an interest in the representations of trees and leaves in painted wharenui (carved meeting houses), which emerged under Te Kooti in the nineteenth century.
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