In mining jargon, ‘finding the mother lode’ means you’ve struck it lucky, you’ve discovered a rich source of something valuable that will make you successful, rich or happy... In her exhibition, The Mother Lode: A Tragicomedy, Kelly McDonald plays on this phrase, considering the loaded associations and expectations that often accompany the word ‘mother’. The title is also an apt reference to both the use of precious metals in jewellery and McDonald’s formative years spent growing up next to the largest brown coal deposit in the southern hemisphere.
Blending aspects of the tragic and the comic, McDonald melds the narratives of home, workshop and motherhood to explore power and gender, the history of these spaces and the subtle and sometimes not so subtle burden they place on women.
“Drawing on everyday experiences, my work combines the historical and contemporary, the crafted and ready-made, and just as I physically move between the workshop and home, so do the references contained in my jewellery. In combining found or industrial objects with items from the kitchen or bedroom, I'm considering the intergenerational histories that mediate domestic spaces, reflecting the tragicomedy of parenting, alongside the everyday act of being a woman.” says Kelly.
Kelly completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts in the late 90s. Following a concurrent career in the art department for film and children’s television she moved to Wellington. Kelly is a jewellery tutor at Whitireia NZ; a member of the collective Occupation: Artist, a participant in the Handshake Project and will complete her Masters of Fine Art this year.