suburban tribal

2015, Contemporary Wearable, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia

The Suburban Tribal neckpiece was selected for the Contemporary Wearables Biennial Jewellery Award and Exhibition 2015. This curated show selects every year prominent and emerging jewellers from Australia and New Zealand to present their work in Toowoomba, Queensland.

“The concept of ‘tribal society’ is one of the most prominent and popular ‘anthropological’ notions of our time, yet within western social and cultural anthropology it has been largely abandoned as a sociological category (…) the modern concept of tribe emerged in the era of Euroamerican colonial expansion. It became the standard term for the social units of peoples considered primitive by the colonists, and for those thought to be uncivilised.” David Sneath, University of Cambridge, 2016.

A tribal society was considered a group of people occupying contiguous territories and having a feeling of unity deriving from similarities in a culture, frequent contacts and a certain community of interests. In such society, apart from status, body beautification and adornment, jewellery was also used for rituals and to honour deities.

The Suburban Tribal series is a satirical view on contemporary “civilised” Australia, and its damage on indigenous culture through colonisation. I associate living in Western Australian suburbs with a form of tribal society life where we have placed the house, the car and other commercial man-made objects on an altar that we worship in pagan rituals. People define their place in society by the possession and value of those objects.

Usually in a tribal society, jewellery was made with products that were easily available for the people, usually the raw materials were humble. In Western Australia, Perth’s urban sprawl landscape is full of building sites and rubbish skips, and the discarded plastic tubing and conduit I re-used in the Suburban Tribal series are non precious materials.