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Nina Baker,



Artist Statement:


My favourite tool has always been a pointy stick.

Sometimes, I think I would have been well-suited to life in the Stone Age, hunting, gathering and carving bone and rock in my spare time. Yet here I am in 21st-century Sydney, on Gadigal land, living a complex urban life with strong environmental, community and social values. A contemporary life imbued with some prehistoric spirit.

In 2011, I earned my BA in Jewellery under the tutorship of Sabine Pagan and Rohan Nichol at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga. This was a great time to explore goon drinking and bad behaviour to the fullest while also gaining a strong foundation in traditional jewellery techniques. Although I rarely reach for my precision tools these days, favouring more intuitive methods, I am truly grateful to have been taught the hows and whys by these hardcore technical makers.

Over the years, I have maintained an active studio practice. This has led to several exhibitions of my more conceptual pieces, as well as a steady output of contemporary gold and silver work, most notably my Mystic Capers series. Mystic Capers represents an ongoing exploration of a dreamt-up archaeology, a dig into fantastical lands abundant in rare treasure and fanciful prizes. I unearth these by carving wax and casting recycled gold and silver, which I set with ethically-sourced stones. The process is joyful, meditative and calming, and I can’t imagine ever not making this kind of work.

In 2015, I travelled to Amsterdam to intern with Professor Ruudt Peters for a year. Ruudt is a guru and a diva, a highly-esteemed and beloved artist and teacher in the world of contemporary jewellery. On my first day, we went out for a walk along the canals, and he asked me: ‘What do you hate?’ I hesitated for a moment, then spat out: ‘Nespresso coffee pods.’ Ruudt gave me one of his own pods and asked me do blind drawings of it every day. The drawing progressed to making, and by the end of my stay, I had amassed over 270 trial pieces on the themes of duality, mark-making, relics, single-use plastics, garbage and the human ability to be very clever and very stupid at the same time. These were shown at my first major solo exhibition in 2017, Working Holiday, which was part of the Radiant Pavilion Jewellery Biennial in Melbourne.

In 2020, I received a City of Sydney Covid-19 Artist Fellowship Grant and started a new carnivorous body of work which involves oil painting table scrap bones – a dance-macabre-inspired reflection on the contemporary moment of pandemic and environmental crisis we find ourselves in. The work is in ongoing development and was shown in its infancy at The Bench jewellery studio in Sydney in May 2021, in the form of an open studio day titled Open Crypt.

As I paint my bones, I continue the wax carving of sparkly jewels, which makes me feel more optimistic during lockdowns. When the weather is lovely, I work in my backyard studio. In the evenings, I’m indoors, perhaps listening to mystical Gregorian chant or watching Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with one eye – whatever suits the mood and allows my intuitive mind to take over and do the work.


Take a look at my CV

Nina Baker Headshot, film photography by Rosemary Whatmuff 2022





At Home in Sydney



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