Christel van der Laan | Stanley Street Gallery

Christel van der Laan

A love of materials and how they can be transformed into poetic jewellery objects are central to Christel’s practice.   A collector of all manner of things, she searches for carefully considered relationships between sometimes disparate elements, with the intrinsic qualities of the materials as her starting point.   Placed together, the mundane, the discarded and the overlooked invite the viewer and wearer to see and value jewellery in a new way.

Christel’s work has been exhibited in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Japan, and Poland and is held in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney and the Alice and Louis Koch Collection in Switzerland. She has staged two solo exhibitions, Price-Less (Katherine Kalaf Gallery Perth, 2006) and Parts of the Story (Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney, 2014)

Born in the Netherlands, Christel has lived and worked in Perth, Western Australia since 1981.




ap – ro – pos 3rd October – 20th October 2018

Parts of the Story 29th October - 22nd November 2014

Red to Wear  - 24th July - 17th August 2013



Collecting, arranging and making things have been a part of my life since I can remember. It is a passion I have shared with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles who between them have (had) careers or interests in everything from antiques, tribal art, textiles, photography, contemporary art, furniture and design to plant and animal life.

Born in the Netherlands, I emigrated with my family to South Africa as a child, returning to the Netherlands to complete my secondary education, before moving to Australia. Ours was a childhood of dazzling natural environments and exotic cultures.   Often my extended family would visit and trips into the "veld" and later, "bush" would yield unexpected booties and a wealth of impressions, while second hand shops and roadside vendors were a source of many extraordinary finds. These items or later finds with associations to particular times and places frequently find their way into my jewellery.

My recent work evolved out of the spontaneous exploration and experimentation with materials with an emphasis on making parts and components that only later were combined into complete works. I have become more interested in achieving subtle dynamic tension between compositional elements in my work and by spending time focusing on creating poetic visual language without the constraint of having to make finished pieces, I hoped to stimulate my process and enrich my practice.

The concept of preciousness in jewellery and the search for beauty in the discarded and overlooked in our everyday lives has interested me for some time. In 2008, I was drawn to a piece of ceramic honeycomb that for years had been sitting unobtrusively on my workbench. Usually a soldering aid on thousands of jeweller’s benches around the globe, I began to imagine and explore the new world of possibilities concealed in each 15 x 10 x 1cm block.  Experiments followed and tools were trialled before my first real pieces Holier than Thou were created. Pure, white, pristine, perforated and entirely precious, the title was an obvious choice.

From an occasional inclusion, this unlikely stuff is now the dominant focus in my work and thanks to grants from the Australia Council for the Arts and the Department of Culture and the Arts, Western Australia I have been able to spend months cutting, carving, comparing, contrasting, constructing.

Collected materials some dating back to my childhood, were also incorporated into the works, among them stones from my collection of Victorian fob seal blanks. Others included antique cut steel beads vintage glass buttons and plastics, mother of pearl, building materials and electrical parts.

There is something incredibly satisfying in creating these entirely hand-made objects. It is a slow, labour intensive process: The delicate honeycomb must be carved carefully to avoid chipping and breakages. Once painted and/or sealed, it becomes more robust. I agonise over the choice and final placement of all elements in the composition.   But as I rhythmically file and sand, with every movement revealing more pattern, line and form, I feel I have found my place in jewellery world.

Christel van der Laan

Christel van der Laan Artist Statement and CV (PDF)