A question of value

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A question of value
mixed media assemblage
silver, copper, niello, bone, eagle cut from American dollar, bone, toothbrush, bottle cap ...., in padded case designed for a silver spoon.
Dale Copeland, 2011
125mm X 182mm X 18mm

A question of value
It started when I found the black plastic thing (top right corner) on a street in Australia.
Back of a cellphone? It looked SO like an old silver & niello brooch I knew was somewhere in my studio back home.
Same size, same feel, just right.
It took a bit of searching, but I found the brooch, and was playing with objects that fitted into the small spoon case and looked right.
Started thinking about how we ascribe worth and measure value.
When two things look so alike, what makes one of them 'trash' and the other one 'treasure'?
Is it the rarity (or controlled market) of metal? Was that piece of tortoiseshell worth more to the tortoise before it was removed and had silver inlay?
That dollar coin ... was it worth more in a pocket or when someone had laboriously sawed the eagle shape and made it into a pendant?
Can a broken and weathered old toothbrush ever be perceived as having value ... even when mounted in copper and supported on ebony?
And if value is imparted by time and effort, then this assemblage is worth a few weeks ... there's not a glue in the world that I trust, so all the objects are drilled and wired in place, and the back is covered with leather to hide the wires. It took ages but I'm pleased with it.
Perhaps most precious is the bone. Certainly to its original owner. Body and health matter. All else is decoration or entertainment.

Dale Copeland
from Puniho, Taranaki, New Zealand

Dale's studio can be found on Surf Highway, Taranaki, New Zealand

More of her work can be seen on the Virtual TART site at http://virtual.tart.co.nz/Dale

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Image © Dale Copeland