Stolen Girlfriends Club Pretty Vacant photo exhibition

Stolen Girlfriends Club supersize their jewellery

24 November 2016

Never one to shrink away from the limelight, Stolen Girlfriends Club has gone supersized in their latest art collaboration, a celebration of their most iconic jewellery pieces from the last 11 years.

Blowing up the jewellery to 80 times their normal size, the installations were photographed against luscious west coast backdrops by photographer and longtime SGC collaborator Derek Henderson.

The intention behind the art? Making jewellery – usually so delicate, and often had to discern in editorial images – impossible to miss. “Jewellery is always this thing working in the background because it’s so small. We thought, let’s blow it up XXXL and make it the centrepiece,” says SGC creative director Marc Moore.

The resulting images were displayed at Red Bull HQ under the title ‘Pretty Vacant’ – you can see all the final shots in the gallery above.

To get an understanding of how the collaboration came about, we asked Marc to answer some questions about Derek and vice versa. Here’s what they said:

MARC ON DEREK

How long have you known each other?
I can’t even remember. Since 2008 or around then?

What was the story of your first meeting?
I remember we did that jewellery shoot out on the west coast. It was like an editorial spread in NO magazine but we just used Stolen Girlfriends Club jewellery and nothing else (so a few nudes).

What was your first impression of Derek?
Thought he was an a**hole (naaaa just jokes). I couldn’t believe how relaxed and chill he was for an accomplished photographer (I always thought the big photographers just sat around drinking their macchiatos while bossing everyone around).

Why did you want to collaborate on this Pretty Vacant project with Derek?
Because he’s the best photographer there is. We’ve always loved his work. His stuff is sexy but then it’s also natural and lo-fi. We’re from NZ so we’re not into this false glam thing that people try and do. We like real and gritty packaged in a beautiful way. And I think Derek nails this with his art.

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What’s the thing you admire most about him?
I love how Derek is with people. It always amazes me how he can relate to anyone in the world and how comfortable he makes people. Whether it’s a supermodel or some old alcoholic at the Avondale markets (we shot a campaign there years ago and came across some real ‘characters’). He’s genuinely interested in people and their stories and I think this is part of his secret behind capturing people the way he does.

What would the outcome have been if you’d swapped roles in this project?
Ohhh waaaaay better, the old cellphone takes some great pics these days! No seriously, a f***ing disaster! The whole show would have been a series of Marc selfies next to the sculptures. Doing peace signs.

Somehow, time has flown and it’s been 11 years since some of the most iconic pieces of SGC jewellery launched – what’s your favourite piece and the story behind its design?
My favourite piece is def. the ‘death metal bracelet’ which is also one of the sculptures in the exhibition. It was the very first piece of jewellery we ever designed. It was in our first-ever collection and to this day is still one of the coolest looking things we do. For me, the guitar pick charm never gets old, it’s so timeless and cool and rock n roll and tough and rebellious all at the same time. I think that piece explains our brand without us having to try break it down for someone. Being shitty with words, I love this! (I’m so bad at explaining or describing things).

What has been the biggest challenge in this time for you and what’s been the biggest highlight?
The biggest challenge in my mind is always production. Being able to translate your initial vision into something that’s functional and wearable, while retaining the brand’s vision. Hey, but if it was all easy we’d probably get bored and ask for something more challenging right? And there’d be a million more brands launching every day. The highlights are quite surprising for me. They are the little things, like I get a kick out of going to the supermarket and the lovely girl at the checkout is wearing one of our bow rings. That shit buzzes me out! I’m always thinking ‘why did this girl choose us?’ What made her buy this ring? I love seeing our jewellery on this really wide range of people out in the real world. That’s what floats my boat. In fashion we’re so caught up with creating this fantasy world for people to buy into, but seeing our creations out in the real world on real people is where I get a real kick.

Who came up with the idea to supersize the jewellery? What was the inspiration for this?
Myself and [SGC director] Dan [Gosling] had always wanted to do this so it was an idea that had been floating around for some time. Pie in the sky-type stuff. The idea was always to put jewellery at the forefront, to blow it up so big it was unavoidable. We always found in fashion shoots and editorials the jewellery would get lost in the shot when being worn by a model. Sure, you can do the ‘still life’ approach but we felt that was a little tired and everyone either shoots their jewellery on models or as still life. We wanted the jewellery to become the art and to overshadow people (for once).

What do you want people to think or feel when they see the art installation?
I want them to be blown away! We always want to move people with what we do.

How did you finalise the locations/backdrops to shoot the installations?
It was a little biased on my part with choosing the locations. I wanted to shoot around Raglan because I grew up there. Mainly because I knew the landscape really well. I always knew the locals would be relaxed about us shooting, and also I liked the idea of being able to sneak out for a surf between shoots haha! We literally stayed right at one of the best surf breaks in the world so that was a cherry on top right there. It was really cool to show Derek and the crew around my hometown, I was so nervous they wouldn’t like it! So to hear Derek say he liked the locations was pretty redeeming, too.


DEREK ON MARC

What’s your version of events of your first meeting?
I met Marc on the first shoot we did together which was out west in an old barn/house.

What was your first impression of Marc?

I liked all the guys from Stolen – Marc, Luke and Dan. They wanted to collaborate with me on the first shoot – they gave me a lot of freedom to do what I do and just take pictures.

You’ve known each other for some time, how did you find yourself collaborating on your very first project and what was it?
They asked me if I’d like to shoot something for them and I didn’t know who they were. I don’t live in New Zealand so I’m a bit out of touch sometimes. I phoned my friend Mikhail Gherman to get the low down and he said “yeah do it!”.

Why did you want to collaborate on this project with Marc?
Marc always has interesting ideas and he’s willing to talk about a collaboration in the true sense. Some people ask you to contribute to a story/idea and it’s more like “this is what we want you to shoot and like this”. He doesn’t ever do that. He understands the creative process and to let things head in a direction that the idea takes it. It’s very organic sometimes.

What’s the thing you admire most about Marc?
That he’s into it with such passion but he’s not a diva. He’s very easy to just be with.

What would the outcome have been if you’d swapped roles in this project?
A f***n nightmare! Nah, he’s actually got a great eye and can take a good photo. He was shooting a few frames when we were at the quarry and I was like “let’s just use that!”.

What’s the intention behind the art? What do you want people to think or feel when they see it?
From my perspective, I always try and take the viewer to where the photograph was taken, a kind of portal. That’s why I shoot on large format when I can.

How did you finalise the locations/backdrops to shoot the installations?
Marc scouted the locations and I’d always wanted to spend time around Raglan. We tried to shoot some of the sculptures on one of the west coast beaches and nearly got blown away. The quarry was something Marc suggested. The baby blue of the sculptures against the ruggedness of the quarry was a good combination.

Why did you choose standard film rather than digital?
I like shooting on 4 x 5 negative as there is hardly any noise or grain and the detail is like being there. As I said before, it’s about taking the viewer to where I was and hopefully they feel what I felt when I was there.

Photos: Derek Henderson

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