Manon van Kouswijk, a Dutch artist born in 1967, has been residing and creating in Melbourne since 2010. She received her education at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where she later became the Head of the Jewellery department from 2007 to 2010.
Central to Manon’s artistic approach is her exploration and interpretation of archetypal jewellery forms and motifs using a diverse range of materials and techniques. She not only creates individual pieces but also frames and contextualizes her work through exhibitions and artist publications, often collaborating with fellow practitioners.
Despite the enduring nature of jewellery’s archetypal forms and motifs throughout history, Manon believes in the possibility of reinventing this art form. She sees these archetypes as templates that she utilizes to translate and reinterpret various jewellery types, such as the beaded necklace. In her work, traces of the making process are often visible, with the imperfections inherent in handmade objects, such as fingerprints and molds, becoming integral parts of the final pieces. While her approach is conceptually driven, Manon’s works also embrace the sensual qualities of jewellery, including color, weight, sound, rhythm, and material expression.
Manon’s artistic achievements include being awarded the prestigious $300,000 Southern Way McClelland Commission for her public art proposal titled Peninsula Pearls. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and is held in both private and public collections, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Røsska Museet in Sweden, FNAC in Paris, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of South Australia, Musée des Arts Decoratifs in France, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Currently, Manon serves as the coordinator of the Jewellery Studio at MADA (Monash Art, Design and Architecture) and is a lecturer in the second year of the Bachelor of Visual Arts program. Prior to her move to Melbourne, she held the position of Head of the Jewellery Department at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam.
Manon’s research in jewellery extends beyond wearable objects to encompass photography, drawing, and exhibition making. She has published several artist books, with her latest publication titled “Making Faces – a jewellery playbook -” released in Melbourne in 2018. Her work has received numerous grants and has been showcased in various national and international exhibitions, including “Medusa” at the Musée de l’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2017, “A Fine Possession” at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia (2015-2016), Schmuck Sonderschau in Munich, Germany (2014 and 2015), and Melbourne Now at NGV in Melbourne, Australia (2013-2014), among others.
Collections that hold Manon’s work include the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the ABN-AMRO Art Collection, the Rosska Museet in Goteborg, Sweden, FNAC in Paris, the NGV in Melbourne, the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Marseille, France, the NGA in Canberra, Australia, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.
See: Gallery Funaki