Amber jewellery salvaged from the sunken Russian cruise liner, Mikhail Lermontov, is reborn with a Kiwi twist in a unique exhibition at The Museum Hotel’s Billiard’s Room in Wellington from Monday October 29th.
Lermontov: Lost and Found features 24 works designed by The Village Goldsmith’s multi-award winning creative director, Ian Douglas. Each piece infuses the Baltic amber jewellery with paua and gemstones.
The Mikhail Lermontov ran aground on rocks near Port Gore, Marlborough Sounds 26 years ago.
Mr Douglas says his vision of the exhibition is to preserve the character of the jewellery’s past but make original new works with obvious links to NZ.
"The works are extreme statements; larger-than-life works intended to show jewellery as an art form. We want to create new life from these once lost gems."
The opportunity to showcase the work arose from Ian’s friendship with the Lermontov’s salvor, respected businessman, Bill Day. Bill dropped the bag of amber off to his mate during the salvage process but, being too busy with other work, Ian put the bag to one side.
It was some 25 years later, after a phone call from a Swiss client requesting a pendant that infused amber with paua, that Ian remembered his friend’s gift.
"It was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment" explains Ian Douglas. "The objects and their history are a wonderful resource for the development of these new pieces. We want to showcase our versatility and creativity with this exhibition."
Bill Day - founder of company Seaworks and one of New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneurs - comments seeing the jewellery reborn in such an innovative way is fabulous.
"The amber is significantly ‘Mother Russia.’ I’ve salvaged dozens of boats over the years, but the Lermontov was technically the hardest and deepest dive.
It took considerable fortitude to do it, so to see this work so many years later brings back memories."