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Blue Case

Emily O'Brien

Hair chairs

Blanche Tilden Scale necklace 2001 lampworked borosilicate glass, hand-cut titanium National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Hair Chairs 2004, anodised aluminium, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra enlarge

Artist’s statement
'I am interested in exploring the context in which jewellery is created, the relationships people have with jewellery and how traditional views can be recast and questioned. To create the Hair chairs, I searched through old furniture catalogues and collected a wide range of images of ordinary and exotic household items. By working with familiar experiences and imagery, I am creating objects that people can easily connect with. By simulating everyday things and transforming them, I aim to alter people’s understanding of contemporary jewellery and adornment. The Hair chairs aim to disarm the viewer by transforming familiar images into something irregular and unexpected.'

How were the Hair chairs made?
The Hair chairs were made using old and new technologies. To start with, I cut them out from sheets of aluminium by hand using a jeweller’s piercing saw and then shaped them with needle files and jewellers pliers.
After the aluminium pieces were cut, they were blasted with tiny glass beads in a process like sandblasting to create a matte finish on the metal. The Hair chairs were then anodised to create a protective coating and to colour the surface. The process of anodising involved exposing the objects to certain chemicals and passing electric currents through them so that the protective oxide on the surface was thickened and toughened. Artists can select specific chemical dyes in the anodising process in order to give the aluminium different coloured coatings. In this case, I have chosen a finish that creates a shadow-like form.


  • What does the title Hair chairs tell us about these objects? What are they used for?
  • Design a piece of jewellery that is inspired by an everyday object you have at home. What kind of material would it be made from? When and where would you wear it?
  • What is a silhouette? Why do you think the artist made these objects to look like shadows?