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A Garden of Gold: The Butcher's Daughter

While gardens often serve as the backdrops to enchanting fables or eternal tales of romance, their essence is mostly distant in day-to-day reality. But Lisa Cooper has managed to capture such magic and transform it into an exquisite jewellery label, The Butcher’s Daughter, creating pieces that most certainly evoke fairytale reminiscences upon their wearers. They represent jewellery in its most exceptional form, and have marked Lisa as one of the city’s only true artisans in a field whose progressive mass production can be disheartening at times. As every piece is handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, Lisa’s adherence to her vision is at once both admirable and desirable. She has not traded it in for profit, and the stunning detail that goes into each and every object is representative of this allegiance. As a former employee at Sydney’s distinguished Grandiflora, Lisa’s expertise in floral arrangements has become immortalised in gold, each element handpicked from a garden of precious metals – and ultimately, her own originality.

What has since become a gorgeous collection of wearable objects actually started out as large-scale artworks, which Lisa began by merely “playing with metals”. “If you put all of the jewellery pieces together they would create a large sculpture, which is exactly how The Butcher’s Daughter started out,” she explains. Two years ago, Lisa’s friends began to commission her to make smaller versions of her works, and eventually her girlfriend pointed out that jewellery was something she could sustainably pursue. “I really hadn’t thought of that,” Lisa reflects. “I was very lucky. I met a lot of amazing people through Grandiflora, including stylists and other people in the fashion industry, so I kept making them.” Whether it was luck or the fact that Lisa had found an audience for her conceptual vision is an answer that is perhaps evident when considering how many of her pieces have been created as the products of special requests.

“I do a lot of commissions for people for things like weddings, and the ideas for the pieces are always born out of the conversation I have with them,” she explains. “It’s when I get a sense of their aesthetic, and from there comes the inspiration. I am also very composition-oriented – I start with one piece and then I build on it. It’s like life painting into space, and it changes with each different element. And I guess I just know when it’s over – it just doesn’t need anymore.”

Lisa sources her precious metal from all over the world, and each piece is bespoke, meaning no two exist exactly the same. Still, she insists that she is a jeweler only “in the loosest sense”, possessing the craft of a sculptor instead. Although the response to The Butcher’s Daughter has been phenomenal within the industry, particularly given that it hasn’t been pushed all that hard, it is merely one of her many projects. Her highly creative mind has sparked countless artistic endeavours on top of jewellery making, including video work, sculptures, performances and installations. Having only just completed her thesis for her PHD at COFA in what she describes as “a metaphysics of the annihilation of self in video-portraiture”, she is now a full-time artist. “ I get drawn in different directions,” she answers when the topic comes up about her many ventures. “I have varying interests, I suppose.”

A student for the past 10 years, Lisa left her job only a few months ago to concentrate on her art career. Although the long-term plans are uncertain, she will soon be taking some of her newer video work to Melbourne as well as working on some more jewellery pieces. “I am unsure about the future,” she says. “I’m just going to continue with it all. It’s simultaneously scary and wonderful.”

words: Seema Duggal


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