While visiting various museum shops across the world, Museeum has always been greatly inspired by those which curate them as an additional platform for artistic creativity, rather than just a place for selling exhibition merchandise. Scouting for new artistic talents has become our hobby when walking around museums, and on a recent visit to MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, we were introduced to some beautiful jewelry pieces by Maripossa. Maripossa means "butterfly" in Spanish, and their earrings, rings and pendants are as vibrant and unusual as an exotic butterfly. We talked to Maripossa's creator, Lauren Besser, about art and her sources of inspiration.

Lauren Besser Studio Portrait
Lauren Besser Studio Portrait

Looking at your jewellery one might imagine you grew up visiting ethnographic or natural history museums. We bet you spent hours in gems and minerals sections. How drawn were you to art and art spaces as a child?

I have been really fortunate to grow up with grandparents and parents with a deep love for art. My grandparents home was always filled with so many wonderful, outrageous, provocative, colorful paintings and sculptures, so many that there were more works than wallspace or places in which to display them. Before I was mature enough to fully appreciate them I was simply in awe of them, and I think I naturally grew to want to understand them and began seeking out art of my volition as a I matured. I also traveled a fair bit throughout my teens with my family and visiting art museums was just something we always did together on these trips. Exposing my brother and I to art in all its different forms was something they felt quite strongly about. These travels and my home environment have inevitably contributed to my work and the lense through which I view the world.

You have a background in psychology and fashion. Has art influenced and inspired you at all? Maripossa jewellery pieces have a sculpture feeling to them. Tell us a little bit about your relations with art and views on it.

Yes most definitely. I never had a desire to work for anyone else and yet struggled my way through somewhat short-lived jobs that were stepping stones to somewhere else. I worked in buying and production for MYER (a large Australian department store) managed an Aboriginal art gallery selling high end Aboriginal art works, had other odd jobs here and there in fashion working behind the scenes, all of which have contributed greatly to how I manage Maripossa. From the art side of things, I always wanted to create something that people would seek to understand, that would provoke conversations and curiosity. Curiosity and conversation are vital extensions of any pieces of art, tangible or otherwise. For me this is what defines art. The viewer becomes a part of the artwork be it via physical adornment in the case of jewellery, conversation, the altering of ones viewpoint, argument, awe, and even nothingness.

Maripossa is shown by two major museums, Australia’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sidney and Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania. How was the idea of this collaboration born?

Maripossa jewellery is presented in the Museum of Contemporary Art shop, and MONA, the Museum Of Old and New Art store. It is wonderful to have been selected to have our works displayed in such prestigious and respected environments and for Maripossa to be made available for the public to purchase within them and seen by a wide audience, one whom have an obvious appreciation for art. I’m so grateful to be able to work with these two wonderful Australian art establishments.


How do you feel about your jewellery being represented in museum shops in comparison to fashion boutiques?

For me this was always my ambition so I’m extremely grateful to have my work presented in such respected spheres.

Are you a museum lover? Where do you usually go to get your dose of creative energy and inspiration?

Yes I most certainly am. Though I don’t have any one particular place I like to visit frequently. I prefer to evade the crowds often found at large exhibition openings so travels are generally when I get in my dose of art gallery viewing.

Is there a museum shop you never leave empty-handed?

Every one! I love how cleverly museum stores are curated. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I recently purchased the most incredible little Japanese hand painted vase by Yoca Muta from the Mori Art Museum shop in Tokyo. It’s like Yoca captured beauty, bottled it, then infused it with heaven, and proceeded to combine the two. It’s the most magical little creation.

If you could create a jewellery design for any artist, dead or alive, who would that be and what would it look like?

Oh wow I’m not sure I can answer that. There are so many artists working across varying mediums that I admire and am inspired by. A collaboration is something I’m more interested in, the culmination of two artists as opposed to designing something for another artist. I adore the poetic works of Jung Lee, Tracey Emin, Robert Montgomery, the neon installations of Bruce Neumann, the playfulness of Alexis Arnold who makes amazing works crystallizing objects, the beauty of Kim Keevers underwater works. I would absolutely love to work together in some capacity with all of them.