Melinda Young





Thesis title: Landlines and Tracelines - topographies of place and the body in the field of Australian contemporary jewellery practice

My cross-disciplinary enquiry seeks to locate the insights of contemporary jewellery practitioners in Australia within the context of Human Geography; to understand how relationships to place configure their creative practice, and how this becomes a point of connection between makers, wearers and viewers of this highly personal & mobile cultural form. In this project, interviews with creative practitioners will contextualise my own auto-ethnographic, research-based creative practice, mapping and material investigations.


My project seeks to develop a cross-disciplinary understanding of the creative methodologies used to map and conceptualise place in contemporary Australian jewellery practice. Engagement with discourses of ‘place’ is common in contemporary Australian jewellery practice (Murray & Skinner 2014). While ‘place’ remains a cornerstone of geographical scholarship, as yet its mobilisation in jewellery practice has emerged from and remains nested within contemporary craft, art and design theories. This mixed-methods research project therefore has two overarching agendas: first, to explore how the concept of place has developed as a common touchstone for the maker, wearer/user and viewer of (contemporary or ‘art’) jewellery; and second, to engage creative arts theories and practice with the language and concepts of place in geography. In so doing, the project contributes to a burgeoning field at the intersection of human geographies and the creative arts (Hawkins 2021), while developing an emergent language for the discrete discipline of contemporary jewellery. Empirically, the project is interdisciplinary, drawing on practice-led research methods from the creative arts and qualitative methods from the humanities and social sciences. It will encompass both my own established making practice, and the practices of Australian contemporary jewellers, with evidence arising from interviews with a sample of participants in the professional field. More specifically, the focus is on contemporary jewellery practitioners whose creative work enables engagement with the vernacular of ‘place’, who share with me personal histories of re-location and/or for whom the act of walking and collecting constitutes a creative methodology. In our work, experiences of re-location and traversing on foot are being actively explored via mapping, materials, collected objects, surfaces, mark making and the notion of ‘the trace’. My research will explore the attraction to land and water (and the liminal spaces in between) for makers, wearers/users and viewers of contemporary jewellery in Australia, with a consideration of the use of materials in this context. In combining both geographical scholarship, qualitative interviews with makers from within the contemporary jewellery field and my own creative practice, the project will examine and reconceptualise ‘place’ in creative works.


2022    Highly Commended Profile Exhibition, Australian Design Centre

2022    Finalist Meroogal Women’s Art Prize Museums of History NSW

2022    Finalist Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Award Australian Design Centre

2021    Artist Residency Gunyah, North Arm Cove, NSW

2020    Finalist Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Award Australian Design Centre

2019    Highly Commended Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, South Australian Museum 

Selected Recent NTRO (Exhibitions)

2023 Frame, Munich, Germany with Atta Gallery

Objects of Desire, Sturt Craft Centre, NSW

Speculation Nation; Craft ACT, Canberra

2022 Meroogal Women’s Art Prize, Sydney Living Museums Meroogal House, Nowra, NSW 

Profile, Australian Design Centre & Hazelhurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW 

petite, Wangaratta Regional Art Gallery, Vic 

Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Award Australian Design Centre, Sydney & Tamworth Regional Art Gallery, NSW 

Second Look, Barometer Gallery, Sydney & Tamworth Regional Art Gallery, NSW

2021 The Neck, Craft ACT, Canberra 

Second Look, Barometer Gallery, Sydney

2020    isolate/make – Creative Resilience in a Pandemic Australian Design Centre, Sydney 

design/isolate, Australian Design Centre, Sydney 

Seed Stitch Contemporary Textile Award Australian Design Centre, Sydney & Tamworth Regional Art Gallery, NSW

Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, South Australian Museum & National Archives of Australia, ACT

2018 present Island Welcome, craft, Melbourne; Australian Design Centre, Sydney; Migration Museum, Adelaide; Gallery Central, Perth, WA, Regional Gallery Tour South Australia 

Recent Published Writing

2022 Sixty: The Journal of Australian Ceramics 60th Anniversary 1962-2022 Education Kit (PDF)Australian Design Centre Touring exhibition 

2021 Commissioned essay The Art of Creative Journaling Australian Design Centre 

2021 Commissioned essay for You are doing it again Zoe Brand solo exhibition, Craft ACT

2020 Commissioned essay Mapping the Tideline’, Garland magazine

2020 Catalogue essay Everything and Nothing – Jewellery Beyond Adornment Australian Design Centre

also published at Art Jewelry Forum

2020 Made/Worn Contemporary Australian Jewellery Education Kit (PDF) Australian Design Centre Touring Exhibition


Conference Presentations

2021 Conference Paper Presentation and Chair, Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia (JMGA) Online Conference in partnership with Australian Design Centre

2021 Conference Panel Presentation Indian Ocean Craft Triennial Conference - Perth 


2023  Board Member Australian Design Centre 

2021- present Story Keeper/Editorial Board Garland Magazine 

2021  Conference Committee Member Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia international conference, included delivering opening address.