By Matthew Pearce
Mount Morgan silversmith Lisa Gaze is amazed by the untapped potential of the town she loves.
Recently celebrating 25 years at CQUniversity (formerly CQ Tafe) where she teaches jewelery making, Lisa said her work had usually been based around things related to the ocean – such as fish, coral and the rainforest.
When she was approached by Kerrilyn and Schae Page from Wattle Bee Next in Morgan St to create a collection of Mount Morgan inspired jewelery to display at their store she said it initially took her out of her comfort zone.
Ultimately, she ended up taking inspiration from her home at Walterhall, where her back verandah overlooks the old mine land and the vegetation regrowth there, with much of the collection based on the mine and the famous ‘Big Stack’.
A previous exhibition created for last year’s Wattle Day Festival was a sell-out and this exhibition looks to be similarly successful.
“People just love the series, especially the Big Stack as they really identify with that iconic symbol of the town,” she said.
“I live close to the Fireclay Caverns so I also incorporated the little bent-wing bats. Sitting on my back verandah and watching them fly past was an inspiration.
“The silver wattle is right in my backyard as well, the wallabies come into my backyard… It makes it so much easier for a designer when you have a strong theme that you can go with.”
Out of the 38 pieces in the exhibition, 14 are cast and the rest handmade from materials including sterling silver, copper and brass.
Other eclectic items showcased in the series are gum nuts and tribal beads.
“I did my graduate study on ‘found objects’ and would love to get onto the mine land use found objects from the mine and make a series of jewelery from that.“
A creative person from a young age, Lisa said she inherited her love of art from her mother, Pamela Gaze.
“My mother was a potter and also enjoyed woodcarving and painting and I was always a painter as a younger person, even doing my Visual Arts degree in painting.“
But fate would take Lisa’s artistic talents in another direction.
“In 1996 I was in a group exhibition and a silversmith was at that same exhibition. She did some classes at Gracemere and Mum shouted at me my first class. I saved up for another class and ended up getting a grant to do more work.“
Lisa said she was fortunate to have a job doing something that she loved.
“When I first started at the Tafe they didn’t have a jewelery department. It was only because I was employed there and they were looking to get me teaching that I was fortunate enough to be able to set that up,“ she said.
“I have a lot of students from the uni past and present and it’s good to see them blossom and exhibit and sell their own works.“
While she’s an “old Poonie“ who grew up on the Capricorn Coast and went to university in Toowoomba, Lisa has lived in Mount Morgan since 2005.
“I was renting off Mum and Dad and thought, I’m 37, no bugger’s going to want to marry me, I better go and buy my own house. And Mount Morgan was the most affordable place for a single girl,“ she said.
“I really did the right thing as I just love it up here.”
Lisa said he “couldn’t blow her trumpet enough“ about how much the town offered.
“Mount Morgan has everything, the hospital, the chemist, the IGA, all the beautiful businesses on the main street…. In terms of events there’s more going on all the time, from the Wattle Festival to the Hill Sprint and the rodeo.
“Everyone keeps saying it’s the next Melany and it’s amazing that it hasn’t taken off yet.”
Launched at the Golden Mount Festival on 30 April, the Mount Morgan-inspired exhibition is on display at Wattle Be Next in Morgan St. All the jewelery is available for purchase.