Katheryn Leopoldseder on Motherhood and Embodied Time
“Motherhood has heightened the value of my craft.”
Katheryn Leopoldseder works from her studio in Melbourne’s beautiful Abbotsford Convent, creating work that marries organic form with clean and precise lines. Often influenced by sea motifs, Katheryn’s work is elevated by the addition of pearls, gems and milky, polished minerals.
Although she has made thousands of coveted jewellery pieces, Katheryn of course thinks of daughter Adah as her “finest creation.” Fittingly, her name means ‘precious jewel’.
Reflecting on how her practice has changed since Adah’s birth, Katheryn’s mind turns to every parent’s most finite resource: time.
“The self-sacrifice and high organisation required of a mother who runs a business based on making everything by hand, ultimately draws my attention to the inherent value of my craft. That these loved objects, are; embodied time.
“Motherhood has heightened the value of my craft, because how I choose to use my time comes at a very clear sacrifice. It has sharpened my focus. I’m only prepared to spend time on pieces and projects that I really believe in.”
Becoming a mother has also made Katheryn reflect on the world she wants for her daughter, and how she as an artist can shape that future. “It makes me value the grounding quality of slow processes and specialised knowledge in a fast paced, disposable culture.”
This is a sensibility Katheryn is beginning to pass on to her daughter, both by example and in practice. “I teach her simple techniques, how to use tools and machinery … and perseverance!” said Katheryn.
Throughout her practice, Katherine has been privileged to work on many special jewellery pieces that celebrate relationships between mothers and their children. One notable piece involved transforming a pair of heirloom earrings into two rings, to be worn by a mother and daughter. Katheryn sees jewellery as “multigenerational by nature”, citing its “material permanence, the intimate scale, the relationship to the body, and the ability to convey a story.
In her own work, Katheryn’s ‘Side by Side’ necklaces represent the twin journey of mother and child: a tender relationship. Two entities, similar, but not the same, experiencing life together.
Through her journey with Adah, Katheryn finds joy in discovering the world anew through her child’s eyes. “Seeing the ways she reflects the good things that we try to teach her, but then seeing the delightful ways in which she is utterly unique, entirely her own person. Adah is a wit, a keen observer, an avid reader. She makes us laugh so much with her surprising observations.”