5 June 2014

Luke Maninov Jewellery: Anatomy and Adornment

Words/Creative Direction: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

There’re a couple hundred bones in the human body. This intricate and beautifully diverse structure is a key inspiration for jewellery designer Luke Maninov.

But nothing compares to the anatomy of the brain. The organ shapes human existence, controls memory, emotion and creativity and continues body functions.

Luke Maninov is also an imaging neuroscientist. Beyond skeletal anatomy, Luke’s designs are laced with references to his work with the brain.

“I’ve been working in biomedical science and neuroimaging for over 10 years now.

“I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from that for my work, so like looking at the anatomy of things and bringing that into the neural form.

“A lot of the work I do is very three-dimensional and is very visual and so that plays into my work too.”

It’s not just human anatomy; animal form is also a motif throughout Luke’s work.

“It’s bringing together all the organic forms into something that is wearable and has an aesthetic beauty.”

Luke’s designs are hard to characterise as a whole. Ostensibly, they seem gothic with an underlying Holbein-esque momento mori theme. But really much of his work appears almost beguiling, like a kind of magical distortion of reality. You can see this in his metal flowerbeds, oxidised seahorses and warped bones.

It’s also hard to define if Luke’s works are gendered.

“Definitely unisex.

"There’s definitely pieces that are more masculine or more feminine.

“Sometimes people ask, 'Is this for men or is this for women?' because they’re not sure if they should like it, but my work is just what it is.”

Many of Luke’s initial designs are drawn then moulded in wax.

“A lot of my work is done in wax because it’s so easy to work with, carve and meld, and add layers and layers to get really intricate pieces and then I cast into mostly silver.”

Looking forward, Luke wants expand his artistic work.

“The projects I’m working on are becoming bigger scale, so I’m starting with small sculpture work and much more finer work.

“So I’m still doing jewellery, but I’m moving towards more technically complex pieces.”

Luke’s works will be at the Draw Me a Discovery exhibition at Bleeding Heart CafĂ© from June 16 and in a Queensland and San Francisco artist collaboration at Gallery One from July 4.

Here and there you can see his intriguing and complex designs: combining anatomy and adornment.

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