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2007/118/1 Panel, 'Lost in the crowd 2', metal, designed and made by Pierre Cavalan, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2007. Click to enlarge.

Panel designed and made by Pierre Cavalan

French-Australian jeweller, Pierre Cavalan (born 1954) is committed to exploring the many possibilities that come from working with recycled materials. Badges, buttons, medals, imitation gemstones, fragments of costume jewellery and metal cast-offs have all been incorporated into his work, which has won several major awards and commissions. His practice reflects not only his attitude towards recycling and sustainability but also his deep appreciation for the history of the materials that he …


Object No.


Object Statement

Panel, 'Lost in the crowd 2', metal, designed and made by Pierre Cavalan, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2007

Physical Description

Rectangular panel consisting of 223 pieces of rectangular metal impressed with stylised faces. The panel is framed and has the artist's name signed on the back.


Artist's name on back, handwritten in black and white pen, 'Pierre Cavalan 2005/2006 / We are (illeg.) from / We are different / 96 X 59 cm.'
The information on the back, 'No 33, We Are More Similar the We Are Different', refers to an earlier exhibition in which the panel appeared.



1032 mm


659 mm


40 mm



French-Australian jeweller, Pierre Cavalan, made this decorative panel, titled 'Lost in the Crowd II', at his studio in Turrella, Sydney, in 2007. The piece is part of an ongoing series of work made from recycled metal plates embossed with faces bearing different, stylised expressions.

For many years Cavalan has worked almost exclusively with recycled materials, making jewellery from badges, buttons, imitation gemstones and an array of other discarded pieces. He sourced the metal within this series from scrap-metal merchants, second-hand shops and Sydney roadsides, selling and recycling anything that he did not use. He has a remarkable memory of the origin of each piece, whether it comes from an electroplated nickel silver tray, a baking tray, a biscuit tin, a teapot, a street sign or a number plate, which demonstrates his appreciation for the materials he uses.

To begin the production process, Cavalan flattens the metal and cuts it to size with a guillotine. He assembles screws, nails or wire into a facial configuration and uses a 20-tonne hydraulic press to emboss the design into the cut metal. He repeats the process until he fills a shoe box with the plates and then begins to arrange the composition. For Cavalan, this is the most creative and enjoyable stage in the production process as it enables him to experiment with colour, texture and scale.

Since beginning the series in 1999, Cavalan has refined the process and has moved to working exclusively with metals that will withstand humidity and other environmental conditions. In some instances he has recycled old artworks into new ones, including an award-winning panel from 2002 that he disassembled and re-worked into new pieces, including 'Lost in the Crowd II'. The frame surrounding the decorative panel appears to have been reused from another artwork.



Born in France in 1954, Pierre Cavalan arrived in Darwin via Portuguese Timor on 22 December 1974, three days before Cyclone Tracy struck the city. Returning to France, he graduated from the Parisienne jewellery school, BJO (Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie), in 1979 and then worked for Sydney jeweller, Russel McColough, from 1980 to 1985. Since then he has held teaching positions in the United States and at the Enmore School of Design, Sydney.

Cavalan's work is held in a number of Australian and international public collections that include the Imperial War Museum in London, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the State Library of Queensland and the National Museum of Australia. In 1990, the Powerhouse Museum acquired two of his brooches, 'Wedding' and 'Widows Group', which are both made from mixed media (Powerhouse Museum object numbers 90/524 and 90/525).

In 2002 Cavalan won first prize in Junk Love, an annual competition for sustainable art and design sponsored by Reverse Garbage Cooperative Ltd in Marrickville, Sydney. His winning panel, which measured 175 x 110 centimetres, was disassembled and its pieces reused in later artworks, including 'Lost in the Crowd 2'. Cavalan frequently recycles his artwork in this manner.


Credit Line

Purchased with funds from the Yasuko Myer Bequest, 2007

Acquisition Date

12 September 2007

Cite this Object


Panel designed and made by Pierre Cavalan 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 June 2021, <https://ma.as/373203>


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