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Contemporary Jewellery

Barbara Nanshe - An overall view - Contemporary Jewellery

 Barbara Nanshe values and practises sustainability principles.


Born in Launceston Tasmania in 1964. I grew up experiencing the many wild places Tasmania has to offer. Though I have a deep connection to Tasmania, the forests, rivers and ocean that surrounds, it is not limited to Tasmania.

I currently live in Islington NSW on Awabakal land and own a 120 acre property for Conservation at Martins Creek/ Wallarobba on Koori, Gringai land. I have been a part of the environmental protection movement since 1983, and the feminist movement since 1977.


 My work, whatever form it takes, reflects my environmental values, sustainability principles and personal empowerment of people. My design choices and names convey contemporary ideas around feminist issues and the environment as a broad umbrella.

Creative Influences

 The deep power of nature; cycles; self empowerment  and connections to animals, earth, the moon, trees, memories, ritual, women's anthology and the planet, are all themes I explore. 

I gravitate to making jewellery as adornment or amulet.  Animal totem and commemorative pieces, travel protectors; body and mind supporting pieces, natural forms inspired by land, organic shapes and natural materials. I produce vast styles of adornment from simple to intricate with a great variety of materials. 

I think like a sculptor and tend to build my story and conceptual pieces as mini sculptures. Pieces are approached like they are a jigsaw, each part dependent on another, sometimes resting for days or weeks while I looks for that perfect element needed to fit the story or shape to complete the piece. All pieces are branches of the same stories.


I am a conservationist. As an ecologist I am interested in distinct forest communities, the relationships within and our relationship to them.

My wanderings take me to many geologically distinct places that speak of time lines in evolution and produce ancient stones and wonderful landscapes and animals. I am interested in geologically distinct happenings such as stone forming and land shaping events which influence the present day. I gather inspiration from the land for my "ORGANIC FORMS SERIES"



Domesticated animals as dogs and cats are one of my favourite subjects to make work to, as I personally have a long relationship with them. I particularly love to report the antics of my dogs in relationship with each other, the home and bush environments.

Wild birds are of particular interest, rarely do I miss an opportunity to represent birds in a body of work. Its so important to inspire conservation and protection of them not only in Australia but on the planet.

Combining Antique Ceramic Shards and animals as adornment can conjure memories of  past relationships, feelings, losses and celebrations and reinforce the presence of animals in our daily lives. 

A wearable piece or a wall sculpture can expose people to reassess their relationships. By observing and rendering dogs, cats, birds, sheep, goats, cows and native animals to wearable or visual art pieces, I hope to urge people to take the welfare of animals more seriously and treat them with the respect and care they require.  I can keep the welfare of these animals at the forefront of discussion and thereby have a small influence to change the way people think about them.  


Feminist Ideology interests me, especially how we have made changes in our contemporary lives to empower ourselves. Antique pottery and jewellery styles can conjure the stories of Colonial women.  Using pottery chards I reference the home and tasks of women. Our struggle for equality and inclusion referenced through an old dinner plate that places us in the role of homemaker, in contrast to how we now view our lives.  

Womens struggle is still relevant in the slow modernisation of the sexes. Even now when gender ambiguity is striving to change the traditional roles, women Identified biological women still live in the conditioning that was passed to us from our society and family. Many of us continue the unravelling of restrictive notions, healing ourselves of shame and disappointment for our loss of empowerment and choices, by returning to school, opening a business, travelling and becoming independent and calling out sexism.

Women's work carries from the womb. It can encompass many aspects of life. Birth, Source, Death, Spirit, After Life.  We weave the future into existence. We are a powerful force of nature.

My collection of woven Deva Dolls represents a bringing of universal light to the hands of women. My weaving allows me time with myself and spirit. This is an overall healing activity. The positive forms impart and imbibe empowerment, self expression, healing, belonging and hope.   

Material Choices

Lead by my intuitive use of ethically sourced materials, positive energy principles and my loyalty to the story, I combine my hand made parts with vintage and antique objects to tune the message and produce truely unique and meaningful pieces.

Mixing many types of materials in my work best suits my expression, I am not a minimilist but I will also use one to two types for simplicity of story.

99% of materials used, including sterling silver, gold and copper, are recycled or salvaged. I seek locally cut, Australian and ethical sourced stones as well as cutting stones myself.

I don't prize a material for its market value rather for its distinct energy. I am careful to source materials with a negative or low global footprint.

I love Mudlarking. I love finding and using materials such as ceramic shards, one use clay pipe parts, ancient stones and fossils, because they already have a story or a history that I can combine with my own. Found objects and old or used materials speak of past times, memories, ideas that I could not express easily with new materials or forms. 

The one use clay tobacco pipe parts I found in the mud on the Thames River, London, are some of my prized materials to work with. They send me images of life on the river hundreds of years ago. They lend themselves to line decoration with Posca Paint and add a unique element to my pieces, which often have names such as “On the Bank”, “Tidal Moon Water”; Under the Bridge”.

There are endless combinations to be designed and made with recycled and mixed metals; stones and texturing. They speak of earth and land forming events across time; volcano flows, changing rivers, finding treasure after the rain; mythology; travel, hearts desire; unusual forms in nature. 


I love a good problem to solve. I often use multiple materials in a piece aiming for an interesting look, a story. So I often need to solve connections between un-similar materials without using glue. Some pieces have a jigsaw kind of process and some parts cannot be added and then soldered for example. so I will think around the square searching for a technique or treatment of a piece in isolation to connect at the right time in the process. 

I am well practised in hand techniques to make all findings and produce pieces without solder.  I can make chains, render forms in wax for casting and construct and solder multiple parts together in one piece. 

I will often use several stone and object setting types, for example claws, bezel, moulded imbedded space or flush setting for stones on my pieces.  Different treatment results in a different level of the story within the main piece. This combination of style and technique treats the stones differently and the juxtaposition of different settings provides a contrast in perspective or an interesting first impression.  

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