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Beth Croce's 'How to Mend a Broken Heart' Exhibition

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Photo courtesy of Lord Coconut
Photo courtesy of Lord Coconut

Leading men's jewellery emporium, Lord Coconut, continues its love affair with emerging young artisan jewellers in Australia.

Owner Mark Boldiston is hosting an exclusive solo exhibition of painted vintage book covers in Melbourne entitled "How to mend a broken heart" by artist Beth Croce as part of the 2013 Midsumma Festival. I caught up with Beth to find out more about her, her art and her exhibition.

Beth Croce is no conventional artist. She is actually a Johns Hopkins (USA) trained and certified medical and biological illustrator who has been creating art for medical books and presentations in Australia and overseas since 1994. Her 18 years as a biomedical artist inspired the Bioperspective line of jewellery, prints and paintings, which are anatomically accurate and scientifically informed with some artistic license.
Image courtesy of Lord Coconut
Image courtesy of Lord Coconut
Image courtesy of Lord Coconut
Image courtesy of Lord Coconut
Image courtesy of Lord Coconut

Beth explained that she has always been intrigued by science and medicine and followed an artistic route to a Masters degree from the Art as Applied to the Medicine department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, USA. She had practised as a certified medical artist creating illustrations for scientific communication, specialising in the cardio-thoracic area, working from within hospital units and as a freelancer.

Her anatomically correct, contemporary designs include kidney, brain, eye, heart, lungs, eardrum, cranium, pancreas, cochlea with semicircular canals (middle ear) and a heart with bypass grafts. She hand carves the prototype in wax using traditional techniques then cast the designs in sterling silver using 'investment' or 'lost wax' casting in Melbourne.

Through her painting and jewellery work, Beth transforms anatomy in one way or another, inherently contrasting scientific importance to cultural relevance. Many of her designs began as specially commissioned work.

For the paintings in the 'How to Mend a Broken Heart' series, Beth drew upon her 18 years of archives of sketches for actual published cardiac illustrations.

She explained that open heart surgery itself is a provocative subject with the surgeon breaching the protective armour of ribcage then manipulating, cutting, sewing and reconfiguring this essential organ.

The heart is the pump that drives the lifeblood but the metaphor goes further. It is the seat of love and hate. It fires our courage and houses our jealousies. It's no wonder people fear exposing their hearts, in both literal and metaphorical terms. This duality drew Beth to the idea of a different perspective on repairing hearts.

The works presented in her latest exhibition, hand painted on vintage encyclopaedias, are a different take on how to mend a broken heart. A series of buff and lovely retro figures inspired by fitness guru Jack LaLanne and 50s calendar girls, inhabit the surgical field, vamping, posing and occasionally actively taking part in the surgery.

They are some of Beth's favourite juxtapositions rolled into one fabulous little show, which offers the visitor a lighthearted take on how to mend a broken heart with vintage and contemporary, art meets science and beauty facing the unpretty reality.

The books will be on sale and a limited number of prints for the wall will also be available. Beth is hoping to offer something special in time for Valentine's Day 2013 too.

Trust Mark to bring another uniquely fashionable exhibition to embellish the state of Art in Melbourne after Ellen Pittman's body art. Beth shared that Lord Coconut was uniquely placed to house exhibitions like hers where the lines of art, sculpture and other media are blurred by jewellery.

This latest exhibition runs from 15 January to 2 February 2013. at Lord Coconut, Melbourne's only retailer, gallery and online boutique selling contemporary jewellery designed exclusively for men. Lord Coconut stocks over 400 individual jewellery pieces and designer cufflinks and represents over 35 Melbourne jewellers, artisans and designers.

Exhibition Times:
Tues to Fri 11am to 6pm, and Sat 12pm to 4pm
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Why? Beth Croce marries artistic creativity with anatomically accurate jewellery, prints and paintings
When: Tues to Fri 11am to 6pm, and Sat 12pm to 4pm
Where: Suite 3, Level 4 Carlow House, 289 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000, Australia
Cost: Free
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