Jane McIlleron


"I am so grateful to have been born in South Africa and exposed to its natural diversity and the big-sky-landscapes that still feel to me like cold water when one is very, very thirsty. Because my Dad was a keen bird-photographer and environmentalist (long before it was fashionable), we enjoyed frequent excursions to wild places. My childhood was spent climbing every available tree, swimming in any suitable (and sometimes unsuitable) body of water, sketching bugs and plants and reading voraciously. My favourite Christmas presents were boxes of coloured pencils and paints, chosen by my artistically talented mother, and books. Even though I always wanted to do Fine Arts, I was equally fascinated by life sciences and chose to do my Bachelor of Science in Johannesburg, which lead to a year at the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban as a research assistant. Here, one of my tasks was to cut up crustaceans and my doubts about research as a career were confirmed. I don't regret the studies though, and still find our planet and its life an infinite source of wonder. Drawn back to the arts, I attended a hobby class for jewellery making. Attention to detail came easily to me (thanks to a lifelong habit of close observation) and I liked the ancient and direct way jewellers work with metal. I moved from the Oceanographic Research Institute to the Natal Technikon (Durban University of Technology today). My design lecturer, Chris de Beer, introduced a multidisciplinary approach. He taught me to try to see a thing for what it was, rather than what I had hoped or expected it would be, and encouraged me generally. He also made me more consciously aware of how the process of making something is reflected in its appearance, in a similar way to that in which the beauty of the natural world results from its evolution and function. Now, when jewellery is often judged by the monetary value of its components or simply reduced to the display of wealth, I try to return to its original purpose as an expression of identity, both for the maker and the one who wears it. It gives me great satisfaction when people really enjoy wearing jewellery that I have made for them." Jane McIlleron


Bird, Blue & Black

Things v

Things iv

Things vii

Airborne ii

Things ii

Proportion - Green

The Stars Say Tsau

The Stars Say Tsau (detail)

The Shelter

The Southern Plaiedes