Inside a large transparent box was a necklace with three pohutukawa flowers, enamel on tin on a brown thread. Our group of Friends had been called over to have a closer look by Dowse Curators Brian Wood and Sian van Dyk. This simple piece of jewellery, borrowed from Te Papa, had been made in the early 1950s by Colin McCahon.

This was one surprise among many in a collection of 300 pieces by 75 artists chosen by jewellers Karl Fritsch and Warwick Freeman for Wunderruma, an exhibition of contemporary New Zealand jewellery just returned from Germany. They said collecting the pieces had been like going on a fishing trip, never quite knowing  what would turn up. It is fitting that their own joint contribution is a fishing line with hook and sinker fashioned from alluvial gold, lead and cubic zirconia. The Dowse’s spacious gallery was filled with many display boxes of the jewellery, arranged in clumps determined by the rapport between the items. It’s all puzzling, entertaining, shocking and delightful.

By contrast, earlier in the day at Pataka, our focus had been on a single artist and craftsman.  Curator Alice Masters introduced us to the exhibition David Trubridge – So Far, which followed his long journey from England to New Zealand. Those Friends who had recently visited his workshop in Hawke’s Bay relished this chance to see his current laminated lampshades in the context of years of workmanship in several media.

Other engaging exhibitions included Seraphine Pick’s Looking Like Someone Else and Fiona Pardington’s Erewhon. In a collection of contemporary Tongan art, Tonga ‘I Onopoon,  Ane Tonga’s look at Nifo Koula, a form of dental prosthesis where gold covers are placed over existing teeth, introduced us to a unique form of Tongan jewellery. Just before we boarded the bus, Committee member John Stevens spoke for us all when he said in his vote of thanks that there is always a sense of immediacy at Pataka which adds to the joy of visiting.

Lois Daish, Committee