Steal This ✿ Melissa Cameron confesses to her role in a lawless jewellery gang


4 April 2024

Part B, Hosier Lane during the Steal This Event, 2010. Photo: Gabriel Anderson

Melissa Cameron tells the story behind Melbourne’s radical street jewellery scene of the 2000s.

Early in the twenty-first century, something remarkable happened in Melbourne. Radical jewellers subverted the hierarchy of precious metals as personal capital by creating objects to adorn public spaces. In City Rings (2003), Caz Guiney placed gold rings throughout Melbourne’s CBD for public discovery. Roseanne Bartley created ornament from street refuse, such as paddle sticks, bottle tops and plastic shards left over from car accidents. And in General Assembly, Blanche Tilden and Phoebe Porter enabled wearers to assemble their own brooches inspired by the signage in Melbourne’s car parks.

One of the most remarkable events in this scene occurred in 2010 when a collected called Part B staged a “flash mob” style event in one of Melbourne’s iconic laneways. Using magnets, they attached specially made jewellery to pipes and other metal fixtures for the passersby to take. Bypassing the commercial system, Steal This was a joyful celebration of serendipitous public adornment.

This history of street jewellery is particularly relevant to the current issue of Garland. To learn more, we interviewed one of its key instigators, Melissa Cameron. How did Part B evolve? What does the name mean? What were its other projects? What is its enduring influence?

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