The highly anticipated Midwest Art Prize returns to the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery in June 2017.   The prize is open to Western Australian artists and boasts more than $30000 in prize money. Entries closed to artists on 1 May and I decided to enter a piece this year.  With over 200 entries, the selection panel chose 64 to be exhibited.  Unfortunately my piece wasn’t one of them so I can now show you what I had created for the art prize this year.

Coming up with a concept that incorporated polymer clay was high on my list.  I also knew I wanted to include some of the beautiful crab claws and yabbi claws my son Red had given me. Let me share some of the pics with you.

I started by gathering together all the “oceany” bits I had in the studio.  A friend in Geraldton, Marianne Penberthy knew I was using crab claws and other interesting bits and pieces so donated some of her precious stash to me also.

I started playing with the different components and teaming them with polymer clay.  Some of the pieces didn’t make the final cut but that’s okay – I have them for another project now.  By the way, the fish bones came from a large fish Red caught, which we ate of course.  I then boiled up the bones and cleaned them up ready to use for something special.

I made a few components and positioned them in a circular way to indicate a necklace of sorts.














Once I had a few components made, I worked with the composition of the necklace until I was happy with the balance of it all.  Then it was time to start working on each individual crab claw and coral component.

The main crab claw is quite large and still in perfect shape so putting him together was easy.  I worked in some Swarovski Champagne crystal flatbacks to symbolise how special the piece is to me.  I also made sure I included a little bit of leopard print foil in here as well (can’t get enough of that stuff).  The individual crab claws are also large and looked great next to some of the smaller crab sticks (well I thought so).

Once I had everything created with thread holes, I strung it up to see how it looked.  In the end I decided to go for a sculptural piece which would be framed.  Each individual component would stand alone but when placed in a circular position, would become part of the sculptural necklace.














Here’s some extra pics just for fun.

I had the piece framed by Kim Tetlow in Geraldton who did an amazing job for me.  I was so very happy with the finished piece – this is incredibly special to me.
















So rejection is part of life and I’m okay with it.  It’s great to challenge yourself and create something a little out of your comfort zone.  I loved creating this piece and sure hope you enjoyed the story behind it all.

Huge thanks to Marianne, Kim and Lexie.  I’d like to wish all those artists who did get selected this year the very best of luck.

And here’s my artist statement to go along with it (with kind help from my beautiful friend Lexie):

My son Red is a crayfisherman and quite the hunter and gatherer. He knows I love to include quirky items in my jewellery pieces so often brings me treasures from the ocean.  I know this is his way of telling me he cares..  He’s not the most affectionate person and sometimes struggles to show his feelings but when he presents me with a crab claw in perfect condition or a beautiful piece of coral I know he’s thinking of me.  Including these items into a special jewellery piece acknowledges my love for him.  This is my ode to Red.




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7 years ago

The necklace is amazing. I love to see how your imagination works, its very inspiring :-))

Debbie Shorten
Debbie Shorten
7 years ago

Hi Debbie, I think your necklace turned out beautiful I love it