Book Review: Fingers: Jewellery for Aotearoa New Zealand, by Damian Skinner and Finn McCahon-Jones

cv_fingers_jewellery_for_aotearoaAvailable in bookstores nationwide.

Damian Skinner is an art historian and curator of Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira. Finn McCahon-Jones is Curator Auckland Stories at the Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira.

In November 1974, five jewellers; Alan Preston, Ruth Schofield, Roy Mason, Margaret Phillips and Michael Ayling, opened New Zealand’s first contemporary jewellery gallery in Lorne Street, Auckland. Michael Guy followed shortly afterwards in 1975.

Fingers became important because of its long history of connecting jewellery and wearers though a deep engagement with social issues. Fingers gave its makers the independence to step outside the confines of conventional jewellery to carve out fresh paths towards symbols of status. Jewellery, formed by hand, that was an expression of the spirit of the maker.

This book follows the history of Fingers, of contemporary jewellery and craft, of fashion of social life and of cultural politics and identity in Aotearoa from the 1970s until the present.
Over the past 40 years the members of Fingers have amassed an archive of their history, including invitations, posters, newsletters, photographs, magazine articles and newspaper clippings. The partners of Fingers have donated the archive, along with other personal articles to the Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira. Most of the material in this book is available to the public through the Auckland Museum library.

I am not familiar with Fingers at all, but I must have passed the original shop entrance in Lorne Street many times. This is a fascinating history of the handcrafted contemporary jewellery in New Zealand. The illustrations and photos in this book are superb. Their current gallery is situated opposite Auckland Art Gallery and is also one I have passed many times, but not entered. This I must remedy next time I am in the CBD.

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Fingers: Jewellery for Aotearoa New Zealand – 40 Years of Fingers Jewellery Gallery
by Damian Skinner and Finn McCahon-Jones
Published by David Bateman Ltd
ISBN 9781869538620

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