Kelly McDonald

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Kelly McDonald completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts (1997). Since 2004 she has been based in Wellington, New Zealand, where she was a tutor in the contemporary jewellery programme at Whitireia New Zealand (2007-2019), a selected participant in several iterations of the Handshake mentoring project (2014 – 2019) and completed her Masters of Visual Art at Massey University (2019).

McDonald takes pleasure in the poetry of simple things, excavating meaning from otherwise discarded useful objects and softening the hardest edges of utilitarian design. Working in series, she draws out the potential for new meanings in our daily encounters with objects, coaxing subtle affinities and delicate perceptions of difference from her rhythmic constellations and typologies of form. By working in this way, McDonald hopes to endow objects with a greater sense of their lived-with experience, and in particular, what they then might reveal about the lives and labours of women.

McDonald’s work has been included in Schmuck, Munich (2017), and Wunderruma, an international touring exhibition curated by Karl Fritsch and Warwick Freeman. Her recent exhibitions include The Mother Lode with Victoria McIntosh, exhibited as part of Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne, Australia (2019), solo exhibitions TOOL LOOT & The Mother Lode, at The National, Christchurch and Portraits, at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland, both in 2018.


  • Masters Fine Arts, Massey University, NZ 2018-19
  • Bachelor of Visual Arts: Jewellery & Object Design, Sydney College of the Arts, 1997
  • Bachelor of Nursing, Monash University, Victoria, Australia, 1994

Professional development, presentations and workshops

  • Presenter at Radiant Pavilion Lightening Talks, RMIT, Melbourne, 2019
  • Member of panel for All The Jewellery, RMIT Design Hub, Melbourne, 2019
  • Handshake 5, 1-year professional development program, 2018
  • Speaker at Making Out relay panel, Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne, 2017
  • Handshake 3,  2-year profesional development program, 2016
  • David Clarke (UK) workshop, 2016
  • Hilde de Decker (Belgium) masterclass, 2016  

Upcoming exhibitions/events

  • Kelly McDonald/Victoria McIntosh, Masterworks, Auckland, Oct – Nov 2020
  • The Mother Lode, with Victoria McIntosh, Australian Design Centre, Sydney, Australia, March 2021
  • Island Welcome, Curator: Belinda Newick, ANU SOAD Gallery, Canberra, July 2021
  • Presenter for Jewellers & Metalsmith’s Group Australia (JMGA) Conference, Canberra,  July 2021
  • Exhibit with Sue Lorraine/Victoria McIntosh, Aust. National University, Canberra, June 2021
  • Kelly McDonald/Victoria McIntosh, The National, Christchurch,  July 2021

Selected solo/two-person exhibitions


  • The Mother Lode: A Tragicomedy, Te Auaha, Wellington, NZ
  • The Mother Lode, with Victoria McIntosh, Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne, Australia


  • Portrait of Jewellery, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland
  • TOOL LOOT & The Mother Lode, The National, Christchurch, NZ
  • Series 2: Various meditations on a woman’s lot, The See Here, Wellington, NZ

Selected group exhibitions


  • The National In Munich at Home, The National, Christchurch, NZ
  • Molly Morpeth Canady Award, Arts Whakatāne, Whakatāne


  • In Site, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland
  • Handshake in dialogue with CODA Collection, CODA Museum, The Netherlands
  • Master Makers, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne
  • The Neck, Projectspace, Sydney, Australia
  • Red, with Occupation: Artist, Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne
  • The National at Munich Jewellery Week, Frame Galleries, Munich, Germany


  • Te Ao Hurihuri, Handshake with Dialogue Collective, The Crypt, London, England
  • Superpositions, Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney, Australia
  • All that Glitters, O:A occupies The Dowse, The Dowse Museum, Wellington, NZ
  • Chain Reactions, Atta Gallery, Thailand


  • Reflect, HandShake 3, The Dowse Museum, Wellington, NZ
  • HandShake 3, Frame Galleries, Handwerksmesse, Munich, Germany
  • Schmuck, Munich, Germany
  • Occupy Crossley Street, Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne, Australia

Selected Media and Publications

  • Contemporary Hum, Handshake 5: In Dialogue; Emerging Contemporary New Zealand Jewellery at CODA Museum, Holland, Roseanne Bartley, 2020 Link here
  • Art News, Winter 2017, ‘Our contemporary jewellery artist’s shine at Schmuck’ image & text p.96-97,
  • Tool as Jewel, Publication ed. Mary-Jane Duffy, 32-page artist’s catalogue


  • Graduate Women Manawatu post‑graduate scholarship, 2019
  • Creative New Zealand, arts grant, 2019
  • Creative New Zealand, contemporary jewellers to Schmuck, 2017