Exhibition Preview | Radiant Expressions by Carla Maxine Germann
The inspiration behind Carla Maxine Germann’s new collection, Radiant Expressions, doesn’t take long to reveal itself.Whilst gemstones from near and far have previously featured in Carla's work, the pieces in Radiant Expressions feature exclusively Australian gemstones. The raw natural beauty of the Australian landscape runs through every ring, necklace and earring, whether via an asymmetrically cut Lightning Ridge boulder opal, or the blue-green of an Australian sapphire evoking the country’s oceans and rainforests. “I get a lot of my inspiration, my recharge from nature,” says Carla, who lives in north Queensland with her young family. The South African jeweller became an Australian citizen last year, and the occasion reinvigorated her desire to celebrate and embrace her new home. This, combined with what she calls Courtesy of the Artist’s “infectious” passion for Australian gemstones, has led to a renewed focus on the Australian landscape, while she continues to subvert expectations with both her settings and choice of stones. The sapphires in her earrings and rings aren’t just deep blue, but encompass yellows and greens as well, bringing a multidimensionality and elemental beauty that’s further enhanced through her unexpected designs.“[The collection] honours the diverse Australian landscape, especially the landscape that's responsible for producing these gemstones,” says Carla. “[I’m] drawing on the natural landscape for inspiration for the design as well as the colourways for putting the stones together.”In one piece, asymmetrically cut boulder opals reveal the outback terrain from which they came: one has innumerable shades of green and is flecked with rust, yellow and blue, another is an extraordinary amalgam of pinks, blues, oranges and onyx. Both are surrounded by delicate gemstones in complementary colours. “[The opals] represent the earth,” says Carla. “Little sparkling specks of moisture and water contributed to making the opals. It’s this very arid landscape. When it rains, the water drenches down into the earth and it captures it deep underground. Then it evaporates and it leaves the silicon carbide, and that’s what makes those magical spectrums. They’re like little landscape artworks.”
Carla also weaves stories of terrain and terroir into how the collection will be displayed: she has silver-smithed and sand-casted stands and magnets, using recycled materials, to exhibit the jewellery. Each reflects the landscape that inspired the piece and the treasures it holds.
The collection’s name, Radiant Expressions, holds a number of meanings: it reflects the ‘radiant’ style of cutting a stone to enhance its light refraction and effervescence. And in ‘expressions’ we find the stories Carla’s creations tell: “I find my pieces to be like little symphonies. They’re little expressions, and they tell stories.”