Installation view of Katheryn Leopoldseder’s work <em>The almond branch that buds, blossoms and fruits</em> 2021–22 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023.    Image: Tom Ross

Katheryn Leopoldseder

Katheryn Leopoldseder
(b. 1980, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Katheryn Leopoldseder creates both intimate and large-scale art objects, using the language of jewellery to contemplate our relationship to the body in time and place. Working from the historic Abbotsford Convent since 2005, Leopoldseder has a research-driven and often site-informed practice that explores individual and collective identities.

Leopoldseder’s brooch, The almond branch that buds, blossoms and fruits, 2022, was first shown in the jeweller’s solo exhibition, New Day, held at The Store Gallery as part of Melbourne Design Week, and was recently acquired for the NGV Collection. Cast in bronze from the branch of an almond tree in the Abbotsford Convent’s heritage-listed gardens, the work then involved Leopoldseder carving almond fruit from wax, which were cast in sterling silver, and fabricating blossoms from sheet metal. The design references the Hebrew story of Aaron’s Staff, the walking stick of Moses’s brother, which had miraculous powers during the Plagues of Egypt. When branches are severed from almond trees, they continue to produce new life, which for Leopoldseder represents the spectrums of seasonal growth. She uses the biblical tale to symbolise the faith and resilience of the Convent’s artistic community, inspired by stories she gathered from fellow residents. Once a closed and gated environment, the Convent was saved from private redevelopment to become a flourishing artistic ecosystem that supports creativity through various stages and seasons.

Leopoldseder’s work has been widely exhibited in Australia and internationally. She has received several significant awards, grants, acquisitions and commissions, including the Lynne Kosky Award for Contemporary Jewellery in the Victorian Craft Awards (2019), a Creative Victoria Travel Grant, and a commission from the Australian Government to create a series of brooches that were gifted to each delegate attending the 2014 G20 summit. Her work is held in the collections of the NGV, Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum and the Art Gallery of South Australia. After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Gold and Silversmithing) from RMIT University (2004), she became a founding member of the Abbotsford Convent arts and cultural precinct.