In celebration of The New Heirlooms, our Christmas campaign which celebrates the notion of giving and receiving treasured gifts, we take a moment to chat with artist, Lilli Waters, about an item she treasures and how it came into her life.
Melbourne-based Lilli Waters comes from a family line of women artists. Her mother is a well-regarded botanical artist, and her grandmother was a photojournalist during the Vietnam War and a former Australian of the Year. With such a profound artistic upbringing it’s no surprise Lilli holds dear a special brooch, inherited from her late Grandmother.
Can you please tell us about something special you treasure, perhaps it was handed down to you or you would like to see it passed on?
This brooch belonged to my late Grandmother, Elaine Joyce Moir. She was an extraordinary woman, an activist, a photo journalist in the war, a former Australian of the Year, and my rock & inspiration as a child growing up. She wasn’t big on jewellery, she only wore brooches and had a very small collection of pieces which she loved dearly. She would wear it with a soft cream high neck blouse in the 80s and with a black suit in her later years.
It makes me emotional just picturing her, she had this amazing belly chuckle which still brings such a huge smile to my face. It was handed down to me along with some of her other possessions. As a little girl, I would sit & go through her jewellery & lipstick boxes, and I remember thinking that this brooch in particular as being so fancy and grown up. She also left me her art deco jewellery box & hand mirror, which sit on my bedside table. I treasure them very very much.
I’m not exactly sure which year the brooch is from, but we suspect it’s from either the Victorian period or early 1900s, and that the face carved out of shell is that of Goddess Diana. Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature in Roman mythology, associated with wild animals and woodland, and having the power to talk to and control animals. The crescent moon in her hair, worn as a diadem, is a major clue that it is indeed the goddess. We also suspect that the brooch was a gift to my Grandmother, given to her by my late second cousin before he died.
It is extraordinarily beautiful & very special, as Elaine was to me. I intended on wearing it on my wedding day, but sadly couldn’t see it at the bottom of the jewellery box on the particular day!