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Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor
100 Women, 100 Brooches, 100 Stories

From the Introduction by Liana Heath, CEO artisan…

The seed for this exhibition was sown at Governor Ms Penelope Wensley, AC 2010 International Women’s Day (IWD) Reception. Her Excellency urged attendees to think of bright ideas to celebrate the forthcoming 2011 centenary of IWD and advocated that something extra-special was needed, something that would perhaps promote the history of this important day.

Inspired by the Governor’s’ remarks, artisan’s ambitious Tinker Taylor Soldier Sailor: 100 Women 100 Brooches 100 Stories exhibition was born. Beginning with the old Tinker Tailor rhyme – which lists male-held occupations – artisan invited eminent jeweller and history-enthusiast, Dr Dorothy Erickson to select 100 Australian women with notable professional achievements. Evie Franzidis was then engaged to write a short biography for each of these incredible women, and artisan selected 100 of Australia’s finest women jewellers, ranging from emerging to established, to create a brooch inspired by one of these stories.

The jewellers’ brief was open to interpretation and the outcome was truly astonishing, with 100 brooches of every imaginable form, technique, and concept received. Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor showcases a superb collection of contemporary jewellery that celebrates the brilliance and ingenuity of great Australian women. It generates pride for the milestones set by the women of the past and provides inspiration for the women of the future.

The Kate Mary Smith Brooch

A rare tribute to and reflection of a remarkable woman – Kate Mary Smith:  truly a first lady of funerals in this country.

Made in 2011 by Marian Marshall, the Forget me not – Kate Mary Smith brooch is made from jet, mother-of-pearl, 18ct yellow gold, 925 silver, Perspex and photograph, 28 x 40 x 20mm

From Page 35 – “A prominent and well-recognised figure both in her day and now, Kate Mary Smith was one of Queensland’s first businesswomen. Born in Dublin, Mary immigrated with her brother to Australia around 1864. While details of her arrival and early years in Australia are hazy, we know that she was working up around Somerset in Cape York, Queensland, by about 1867, and that she married her husband, John Smith, on 27 January 1868. John was a carpenter who had been working for the English Royal Marines Light Infantry, who were erecting a northern trading port in the area. Shortly after they were married, John was discharged from the Marines, who were moving out, and became a Water Police Constable. 

After living in Somerset for a couple more years, the Smiths relocated to Sydney. Several years later, they move to Brisbane, arriving in 1874. By this stage they had three children, and John quickly set up shop as a cabinet-maker in Elizabeth Street. The Smith family continued to grow; Kate gave birth to four more children over the following six years. Brisbane was a rapidly expanding city and the Smiths were well known; John was a prominent Freemason and Kate an active member of the Catholic Church. With John’s carpentry skills, he was often called upon to make coffins, and in 1883, the Smiths purchased an undertaking business from William Walsh. initially operating out of George Street, the business later moved to Fortitude Valley, and the family lived in the floor above the store. However, John’s health was failing and Kate had to assume the running of the business – even learning how to embalm bodies. This was a rare skill for a woman to have at the time; these were the days when women hardly attended funerals, let alone worked in the industry. 

After John died in 1886, Kate decided that she would continue trading, and bravely put an advertisement in the Brisbane Courier Mail to this effect. While the business had originally been trading under the name ‘John Smith’, Kate renamed the funeral parlour ‘KM Smith’, and it continues to operate – with her great-grandchildren running the business today.  Under Kate’s direction, the business became such a well-respected establishment that a common adage at the time was, “If you are not buried by Kate Mary Smith, you’re not going to heaven”! Kate herself was a steady woman who survived numerous tragedies; she buried four of her seven children in her lifetime.

Kate herself was a steady woman who survived numerous tragedies; she buried four of her seven children in her lifetime. She was also an extremely generous benefactor of the Mater Hospital and was recently inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame. 

Artisan Marion Marshall describes the elements behind her unique piece: “The brooch for Kate Mary Smith uses a Forget-me-not carved in jet. Its centre of mother-of-pearl represents Kate as a mother and holder of the family unit. The reverse of the brooch holds a photo of Kate in the tradition of Victorian mourning jewellery.”