Driving out of “Silver City” (Broken Hill) late one afternoon, Ilona Harker started thinking about jewellery. Jewellery that had been lost, jewellery that was broken, little trinkets that she had found, things that she had left in different places, pieces that had been taken from her. In a past life, Ilona had spent 5 or 6 years working in a beautiful jewellery store in Brisbane where everything was handmade. As she drove along, she thought about the emotions behind jewellery, just how big those emotions actually were for her, and how she loves to display her jewellery – although she keeps some in drawers, much is strewn across benches and dressing tables.
As she continued to drive through the South West of NSW she thought about how amazing it would be if she could get all of her friends together for a jewellery swap, just like others have clothes swaps, but then wrote off that idea thinking it was daggy and that no one would come unless she was pouring a lot of champagne!!
But, suddenly the idea of displaying jewellery over a chandelier came into her head.
Now, if you are lucky enough to know Ilona, you will know that she has lots and lots of ideas and, with every one, she tries to figure out how her idea could help the world. Last year Ilona went through a very deep and severe depression that she speaks very openly about. So the idea of the chandelier displaying jewellery evolved into the chandelier becoming somewhat of a shared memory, a sparkling treasure trove of the lost and broken jewellery that would adorn it, and the stories behind the pieces.
As the idea grew, Ilona posted on Facebook that she had this concept of a chandelier made from lost and broken jewellery and through this, renowned jewellery designer Victoria Spring said “I’m in let’s do it”. Over the last 6 months, Ilona and Victoria have been getting together and fleshing out the idea, discussing how they were going to do it and most importantly, where the chandelier would eventually hang.
Victoria has been making jewellery for 30 years – she was actually a photographer and had travelled to Scotland to hook up with a band that she worked with – that band was Simple Minds. She was looking for work, fell in love, moved in with her beau in the highlands of Scotland and started digging a vegetable garden! Victoria found lots of buried broken pieces of china whilst she was digging and made pieces of jewellery from them which she exhibited at the Edinburgh Festival. She sold out and then was approached by shops in London. All the pieces were broken and over the years Victoria’s work has become a lot more refined, but she has always loved making beautiful jewellery from things that are broken and have stories and meaning behind them.
Danielle Leonard from Verandah Living kindly donated the chandelier which has been hung in the stairwell of the Byron Bay Community Centre, local electrician Geoff Bensley donated his services to hang it. The cups of the chandelier have been taken off and decorating them with lost and broken jewellery is the focus of workshops that are being held upstairs at The Community Centre every Saturday in September at 2pm.
I joined in on Saturday afternoon and was mesmerised, creating a piece with broken earrings that i had bought years ago in Seattle in the midst of my big corporate career, and placed other pieces that had been donated by other women that all meant things to me: a brooch shaped like a lily for my grandfather, cameos for my grandmother who loved them, the colour green for a lost love, pearls from the ocean for my parents… I intended on staying for 30 minutes – I stayed for almost 4 hours, tinkering away, chatting to new friends that I met and learning jewellery making skills from Victoria who regularly holds workshops.
The stories behind the pieces are being collected (anonymously if you choose) and will be set in a beautiful book along with photographs and other memories, available to purchase soon, with all profits going to mental health awareness.
The workshops will be held each Sat 2-5 in Byron at the Community Centre.
If you would like to be involved but are unable to come to the workshops, please feel free to drop your offering along with a short story into Mullumbimby Council Chambers, Brunswick Heads Visitors Centre, Byron Bay Community Centre or if you are far away you are welcome to send them to:
Chandelier of the Lost and Broken
c/o Ilona Harker
PO Box 107
The Chandelier of The Lost and Broken will be lit sometime during October – we will let you know the details closer to the time.