1949 - born Greymouth, Westland, New Zealand
1968-70 - studied Graphics/Textiles at School of Design Wellington Polytechnic, Wellington, NZ
... rode a motorbike ...
1979+ - joined Ruth Baird's jewellery studio, Titirangi, Auckland, NZ
1979+ - worked with Ruth Baird Jeweller, Auckland, New Zealand
1981 - worked with Warwick Freeman Jeweller Auckland New Zealand
1983-90 - Member Details contemporary jewellers group (NZ)
1991-95 - Jewellery Lecturer, Manukau Institute of Technology, Auckland NZ
1994-04 - Member Society of North American Goldsmiths
Letting kids into the jewellery workshop
Beaujolais, Lyon, Colliure
Sardinia, Sicilia, Venezia
B r i a n A d a m
silver and gold jewellery, custom eyeglass frames
I'm generally curious about what things are made of, how they were made and how they function. And I try to make pleasing shapes into wearable and functional jewellery: comfortable and durable for the customer.
I make and use fairly simple jewellery tools and equipment and my jewellery-making style fits between two extremes: precise eyeglass frames and the wanton looseness of molten silver into wood. Recently I'm sawing up gemstone rocks into interesting and wearable shapes.
From our studio I let children have fun in the workshop and help adults start a jewellery career. I offer independent tuition to all ages, even post-grad.
I've exhibited widely in New Zealand since my first solo at Fingers,
called 'Face Furniture' (1984), and have taught specialty
masterclasses to professionals in USA, Canada, and Australia.
Spectacles and Eyewear are one of the most
interesting areas of body adornment for me, and the curiously most humorous. My
earrings and rings are also quite light-hearted. I made my first
spectacles in 1981 when I added pauashell
sunglasses to the bucket of NZ kitsch
When making an exact replica of some beautiful 1930s Aviators for a
customer I was quite inspired by the way that the pressed-metal technology of the
day dictated how they fitted to a variety of face shapes, and when
comparing them to the modern Aviator frame I could see it has lost
the design innovations of those originals.
I use the malleable metals (silver, tin, gold, copper) that I alloy
when required, and mix up with gemstones and common industrial
materials... 'Pillow' rings are
the result of playful action drawings in pure gold, silver and a few
Eyewear history tells us that utility and frivolity in eyeglasses has always
existed together. I'm no exception. I make plain eyeglasses plus I've a
fondness for depicting an enjoyment of myopia and its attendant foibles.
I live in a rainy foresty area of
Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand. I work here alongside
in a studio workshop we built ourselves behind our house. I trained
first as a designer in the late 60s, those days when jewellery
artist training did not exist in (pop. 3.4m). Then I began the
journey of auto-training. This means I wanted to make everything
myself so I found out how. I usually think y'know laterally and
research a similar function in an unrelated area and apply it with a
twist. My studio workshop shows
this - it's hard to keep it looking tidy. I first picked up
contemporary jewellery tricks from
my wife Ruth in 1979, then
from Warwick Freeman in the early 1980s.
FIRST SOLO SHOW - 'Face
Furniture' - 1984 ...
A detached retina ...
is something that can happen to short-sighted people,
and in 2000 on my return from teaching in the States it happened to
me. Eye surgery at Auckland Public Hospital in September 2000, then
a cataract developed in that eye 3 years later (as happens). Replaced
the lens. The new IOC is better than the old one.
I'm just a tinker handyman.
The materials I use are the malleable precious metals (silver, copper
and tin in their pure states, the useful silver and gold alloys like
sterling silver, coin silver, 22karat gold, 10% shakudo), precious gemstones
(emerald, ruby, sapphire, etc), common industrial materials (steels,
aluminiums, titanium, plastics), and the usual suspects of found
materials like beach pebbles ... My designing method is by doing,
folding, grinding, scratching. Really, I design on the go - on my
feet and moving around - from the torch to the anvil to the
bench-pin. Then for those developed designs I use my computer.
Eyewear and eyeglasses.
Spectacle history shows us that utility and frivolity in eyeglasses has
always existed side by side. Eyeglasses depicted in art are commonly shown as
both a badge of eminence and scholarship, and a sign of pityful helplessness.
We have serious portraits showing eyeglasses worn from necessity and we have
caricatures depicting a malicious enjoyment of the misfortune of others. As
an eyeglass wearer myself, I vascillate effortlessly between scholarship and
pityful helplessness every day...
[ eyeglasses etc]
My methods of designing are melting, alloying, forging, folding, chasing,
grinding, scratching, sawing, brazing, riveting. Really, I design on the go
- on my feet and moving around - from the torch to the anvil to the
How important is the optical lens
in all this? The historian of optics might prove that frames are the
servant of the glass lenses, an invention that some say occurred around
1280. They might say that without a lenses, the frame is pointless. I see
things differently. I look at what came from China where they had another
type of eyewear which had no optical qualities at all - with stone lenses.
True vision blockers - sight restrictors for meditation. Worn to encourage
introspection. Then I look to 18th century Europe where highly embellished
eyeglasses were the height of fashion and jealously guarded badges of rank.
Expressive eyewear worn in order to appear in a more advantageous light.
Worn to direct attention towards oneself.
So my concerns as an
eyewear-maker have been both introspection and personal expression. I'm not
so interested for example in the knick-knackery of spring-loaded frames
folded off-the-face into their Roccoco cases. I do both sculptural and
jeweleric adornments. Both in-your-face eyewear and pretty sensible
Custom tuition and group workshops are now primarily taught from
Bush Jewellery in the studio I share with Ruth Baird. My eyeglass
master-classes are aimed at jewellery and optical professionals and
my classes at local high schools aim to encourage an early interest
in making things, especially if it's a bit dangerous.
Workshop Experience "woofing" in jewellery
2017 Katelyn Nelson (Akld NZ)
2015-6 Laura Guitte (France)
2016 Kayley Marsden (BA(Hons) UK)
2016 Sylvia Nevistic (AU)
2014-5 Lyra Lin (Taiwan)
2010 Takako Imano (Japan)
2006 Taeko Onodera (Japan)
Custom Tuition (incomplete)
2017 Melissa Beasley (Akld NZ) starting a series of weekly courses
2013-17 Maria Podskrebko (Russia/NZ) jewellery comprehensive
2017 Laura Manson (Takaka NZ) course of 2 sessions
2016 Claire Price (Gisborne NZ) 1 day session
2016 Sophie Jenkins (Akld NZ)
2015 Patrick McLeay (Akld NZ) weekly course, Roman Ring high school project
2015 Kate Nixon (Taupo NZ) 4 day eyewear intensive
2015 Mitchell Azevedo (USA) 3 day eyewear intensive
2015 Danielle Barrie (AUSTRALIA) jewellery intensive
2014 Iggy Epstein (Akld NZ) kids jewellery
2014 Geof Wilson (Wanaka NZ) one week jewellery intensive, ACC-funded
2012 Kristen Wood (NZ) course of 4 weekly sessions
2012-13 Macarena Bernal (Chile/NZ) jewellery comprehensive
2011 Aukje Thomassen (NZ) jewellery intensive
2011 Anoushka (Japan) jewellery comprehensive
2005+08 Anna Viniegra (USA) jewellery comprehensive
2005+06 Catherine Yoder (USA) jewellery comprehensive
2005 Tania Tupu (NZ) jewellery comprehensive
2005 Judy Newton (NZ) jewellery comprehensive
2003 Jennifer Gibbs (JAMAICA) jewellery comprehensive
2003-08 Solofa Saipele (NZ) jewellery comprehensive
2002 Louk Tohitika (Tahiti) one week jewellery intensive
2002 Nicky Black (NZ) jewellery intensive
2012 Maire Gunn (NZ) jewellery intensive
Group Workshops (incomplete)
2016 Kids holiday workshops
2015 More Kids Workshops
2014 Kids at Work
2010-14 Saturdays: A day in the jewellery studio
2009 Dangerous Jewellery for Boys, at Bush Jewellery
2002-9 Custom Tuition at Bush Jewellery Studio
2008 Turning Point Trust mental health recovery centre, to set up jewellery area.
2008 Taupo Festival, Street Jewellery ring-making.
2008 Diocesan School for Girls, bezel-setting class.
2008 Bubbledome, jewellery for 6 - 14 year olds during school holiday.
2007 Private custom tuition, Children's Jewellery Workshop, Lopdell House.
2006 Wanaka, and various other places.
2005 Whakatane, and various other places.
2004 within New Zealand
2003 Iraq becomes US state #51
2002 workshop Tour USA/Canada, -Eyewear, Rings.
-'Bush Jewellery' studio workshops opened, Auckland, New Zealand
2001 -July: 'Eyewear' workshop tour Canada: Toronto, Red Deer College, Alberta
2000 -May/June: Unitec (Auckland) module.
this must be serious outback eyewear!
-July 27: Interlaken Art School, Massachusetts, USA
-August 7 to 11 'Eyewear', 92nd Street Y, NYC
1999 'Eyewear' Australia 3-venue tour Sep/Oct, University of Sth Australia, Object
Workshops Sydney, Brisbane Jewellers Guild.
'Spontaneous Casting and Practical Alloying', Nelson Winter School.
'Street Jewellery', Queenstown, Titirangi, Ponsonby, The Dowse, Napier Museum
and Dunedin Art Gallery during 'Turangawaewae' Jewellery Biennial.
'Making A Spectacle' USA tour May/June,
Revere Jewelry Academy San Francisco, CA
Maryland College of Art, Baltimore MA
92nd Street Y, New York City
Arizona Designer Craftsmen, Phoenix AZ
'Street Jewelry', The Rockies YMCA, Estes Park Colorado
September - Bush Jewellery Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand
September - Street Jewellery, Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Apr - Jewellery Workshop, 5th Form students, Lynfield College, Auckland.
Feb to June -Jewellery Direct Auckland Art School night class, Lopdell House, Titirangi, Auckland.
Mar - Street Jewellery to summer tourists at Queenstown.
Jan - Street Jewellery to summer tourists at Queenstown.
Street Jewellery, Queenstown, New Zealand
Making A Spectacle Four Summer Workshops Travelling N.Z. Team-taught with Deb Stoner.
Making A Spectacle Maryland Institute, Baltimore, MD. Workshop team-taught with with Deb Stoner,
Creative Eyewear Workshop, taught at Whitireia Polytechnic, Porirua, NZ
Metalchemy Workshop, taught at Unitech, Auckland, NZ
Street-Teaching the Tourists, summer Jewellery sessions, Queenstown, New Zealand
Metallurgy, Casting, and Eyewear Design, two weeks, Eastern Insitute of Technology, Napier
1991 QEII Major Professional Development
1981 QEII mentor programme with Warwick Freeman Auckland
1998 - '100 New Zealand Craft Artists' by Helen Schamroth.
1996 - 'Spectacles' by Samuele Mazza.
1995 - Auckland Museum, New Zealand
1994 - I. Isad-Pana, The Optician, San Francisco USA, private collector
1989-93 - G. Gherardi, l.a. Eyeworks, Los Angeles USA, private collector
1984 - D. O'Neill, Auckland, New Zealand, private collector
1982 - Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
2016 Annual Group Show, Fingers Jewellery (since 1980), Auckland.
2016 'Art Festival', Lure Gallery, Dunedin
2016 'Ring Show', Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2015 'Wundermeke', Fingers Jewellery
2015 'Wunderruma', Auckland Art Gallery, Dowse Art Museum, and a Munich venue
2015 'Ring Show', Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2014 Fingers 40th Anniversary, Objectspace, Auckland.
2014 'Solid Gold Hits', Lure Gallery, Dunedin
2014 Fingers 40th Anniversary, Fingers Jewellery, Auckland.
2013 'Anniversary Show', Royal, Auckland
2010 'One for the Boys', Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2009 5th Birthday Show, Inform, Christchurch
2008 15th Birthday Show, Form, Christchurch
2008 'Ring Master' Quoil Gallery: 'unique rings that can be worn every day, all day, any day'
2008 'Neckwear' Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2008 '15 year anniversary' Form Gallery, Christchurch
2007 'The Originals!' Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2006 'Jewellery box' Masterworks mini solo
2005 'Finger Rings' mini solo, Fingers, Auckland
'Natural Processes' with Ruth Baird, Lopdell House Titirangi
'Family Jewels' with Ruth Baird, Quoil Gallery, Wgtn
2004 'Neckwear', Masterworks, Auckland
2003 'Bloom' Aus and NZ jewellery, OXOXO Gallery, Baltimore, MD, USA
2001 'AnonEvent' annual group show, Fingers, Auckland
1999 Turangawaewae, Dowse Art Museum 3rd National Jewellery Biennial touring New Zealand
1998 Eye-Con Visionary Eyewear, International invitational, John Waldron Arts Center, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Annual Group Exhibition, (since 1980) at Fingers Jewellery, Auckland
1997 Foresight, Visionary Eyewear by Artists, International invitational exhibition, Gallery I/O, New Orleans
Face It, L.A.Eyeworks' collection touring USA/Europe
The Wedding Party, Masterworks, Auckland
Alluring Ring Exhibition at Lure Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand
Eyewear - Four Recent Workshops group show, at Form (Ch-Ch), Fingers (Ak), Avid (Wn)
1996-97 - Eyewear - Four Recent Workshops group show, touring New Zealand: Form,
1996 - Jewellery and Glass, Statements, Napier, N.Z.
from the studio of brian adam, stanley lechzin, betty helen longhi, deb stoner, OXOXO, Baltimore MD
Festival Jewels, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, N.Z.
1995 - Op Art: Eyeglasses by Jewellers, international invitational, touring USA
Annual Group Exhibition at Fingers Jewellery, Auckland
Face It, international exhibition of L.A.Eyeworks' permanent collection
1994 - Eyewear, solo at Gallery Gold & Silver, Melbourne, Australia
1993 - Three Recent Ideas, solo at Fingers Jewellery, Auckland N.Z.
1991 - Pieces in the Form of a Pair, solo at Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt N.Z.
Art of the Pacific Rim, at Kikuyu Gallery, Los Angeles
Spectacular Spectacles, Craft And Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles
1984 - Face Furniture, first solo exhibition, Fingers Jewellery, Auckland, N.Z.