Jewellery and Drawings by Margaret West

Exhibition  /  15 Aug 2018  -  08 Sep 2018
Published: 13.08.2018
Jewellery and Drawings by Margaret West.
Stanley Street Gallery
Merilyn Bailey, Liza Feeney
Margaret West. Brooch: Rapt, 1999. Basalt, paint, silver.. 4.5 x 4.8 x 0.5 cm. From series: The sky is a garden. Margaret West
Brooch: Rapt, 1999
Basalt, paint, silver.
4.5 x 4.8 x 0.5 cm
From series: The sky is a garden
© By the author. Read Copyright.

Margaret West (1936-2014) is renowned as one of Australia’s finest contemporary jewellers. Her restrained yet passionate works in stainless steel, stone and marble are thoughtfully conceived, impeccably crafted. Often lyrical and evocative of nature, which West loved, her works are marked by the allusive compression that she explored in her other great passion in later life, writing poetry.

Artist list

Margaret West
These practices were sustained by drawing, and by West’s constant habit of observing the natural world – she was constantly looking, drawing, taking notes. Whether of flowers in her Blackheath garden, or cold seas off the coast of Norway, her drawings were made to explore what was around her, to contemplate its beauty but also its gravity. West also looked unflinchingly at humanity, and our propensity for injustice, as the vibrant scarlet drawings for Fatal Flowers reveal.

With a practice in jewellery spanning four decades, Margaret West made a major contribution as an artist, and was one of the most respected makers in her field not only in this country, but internationally; she was renowned for the uncompromising probity of her work, and celebrated for her writing about making.

This exhibition marks the first solo showing of Margaret West’s work since her death four years ago. It has been eagerly awaited, since it offers the opportunity to look again at West’s tough and loving vision of the world. In particular, this exhibition explores the way drawing worked in tandem with her other forms of practice. Whether austere graphite accounts of the stainless steel brooches from the 1980s, or delicate flower studies from the 2000s, Margaret West’s drawings are always forms of thinking, ways of seeing, that live in dialogue with her jewellery and her poetry. 

About the artist:
Born in Melbourne in 1936, Margaret West studied sculpture and printmaking at RMIT in the 1950s, then ceramics, painting, and gold and silversmithing at RMIT in the 1970s. Widely cultured, she also studied philosophy and music (piano, oboe, viola). In 1979 West moved to Sydney to take up a position at Sydney University College of the Arts, where she taught in the Jewellery and Object department until 1999, where she was noted for her demanding rigour as a teacher.

West was initially widely recognised as one of the most important Australian jewellers of her time, though her practice moved between installation, object making, jewellery, drawing, and photography. She received numerous awards, most notably a Fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts in 2000-2001, and she was named as a Master of Australian Craft by Craft Council of Australia, in 2007. West travelled and exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas and is represented in many major Australian and international museum collections. Her poetry and essays have been published in journals and anthologies, and on the internet – see her own website and klimt02 (see, the important jewellery blog published out of Barcelona, for additional images and texts by West; she also published artist's books, which developed dialogues between text and image.

From 2000 onwards, Margaret West lived at Blackheath in the Upper Blue Mountains of New South Wales, working in her studio, writing, and delighting in her garden. Margaret West died on 2nd November 2014 at home in Blackheath, surrounded by her close family.


23rd August at 6 pm.


Wed - Fri 11 - 6 pm.
Sat 11 am - 5 pm.
Margaret West. Brooch: Anthem, 1999. Stone, paint, silver.. 7 x 7.2 x 0.5 cm. From series: The sky is a garden. Margaret West
Brooch: Anthem, 1999
Stone, paint, silver.
7 x 7.2 x 0.5 cm
From series: The sky is a garden
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Margaret West. Drawing: Untitled. Black Ink, paper.. Photo by: Catherine Rodgers. Margaret West
Drawing: Untitled
Black Ink, paper.
Photo by: Catherine Rodgers
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Margaret West. Drawing: Untitled, 2004. Guache, paper.. 27 x 19.7 cm. Photo by: Catherine Rogers. From series: Fatal flowers. Margaret West
Drawing: Untitled, 2004
Guache, paper.
27 x 19.7 cm
Photo by: Catherine Rogers
From series: Fatal flowers
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Margaret West. Neckpiece: Gobbet, 1997. Rock, paint, linen thread.. 4.2 x 6 x 1.7 cm. Margaret West
Neckpiece: Gobbet, 1997
Rock, paint, linen thread.
4.2 x 6 x 1.7 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Margaret West. Brooch: Untitled, 1997-1999. Stone, paint.. 6 x 6 x 3 cm. From series: The sky is a garden. Margaret West
Brooch: Untitled, 1997-1999
Stone, paint.
6 x 6 x 3 cm
From series: The sky is a garden
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Margaret West. Brooch: Misty, 1999. Marble, paint, silver.. 6 x 6 x 0.4 cm. Margaret West
Brooch: Misty, 1999
Marble, paint, silver.
6 x 6 x 0.4 cm
© By the author. Read Copyright.