August is always a fabulous month at Craft – this month is no less than a jewellery and silversmithing extravaganza.
‘Transplantation – A sense of place and culture – British and Australian Narrative Jewellery‘ is a traveling exhibition curated by Professor Norman Cherry from the University of Lincoln (England).
Exhibition media: “This exhibition of contemporary narrative explores the sense of place and cultural identity through the theme of transplantation. Artists based in the UK and Australia have explored their own sense of place and individual cultural identity as a consequence of their personal and family experiences of transplantation.
Jewellery provides a means of recording memory and experience in a portable and wearable form. Through this medium it is possible to express ideas, thoughts, and concerns, which may not be achievable in other ways. Twelve contemporary jewellery artists from the UK and Australia have been selected to create up to three pieces of work each, which will articulate the notion of transplantation in a tangible form.“
The exhibition design is reminiscent of a museum layout or like cases displaying specimens … no doubt quite deliberate given the concept. I think this kind of display puts me in mind of looking at ‘old or extinct things’ – bowing down to see the pieces, under glass, and in really very beautiful quality cabinets.
The Australian artists are separated from the English artists – two groups of six cabinets.
The works of the English group were very intriguing. I especially liked Lin Cheung’s work (in the bottom left of the below image) of 24 pennies made of gold ranging from 1 to 24 carat. The description of the story is beautiful and I think most evocative of the ‘transplantation’ concept.
Participating artists are:
- Anna Davern, Melbourne (notoriously and gleefully Australiana-loving, and therefore a perfect artist to include in such a show) [website, my blog posts]
- Roseanne Bartley, Melbourne [blog]
- Joung-Mee Do, Melbourne [my blog posts]
- Nick Bastin, Melbourne [my blog posts]
- Sheridan Kennedy, Sydney [website]
- Bridie Lander, Sydney/Birmingham
- Jivan Astfalck, London
- Norman Cherry, Lincoln
- Jack Cunningham, Birmingham [website]
- Laura Potter, London [website]
- Lin Cheung, London [website]
- Jo Pond, Derby [website]
The exhibition catalogue is available online here (pdf).
‘Transplantation‘ has been traveling [see other locations here] and is at Craft until 30th August 2014.
Update (an hour after initial publication): it was remiss of me (well, forgetful actually) to omit that Zoe Brand wrote a well considered review of this exhibition catalogue for AJF last year – see it here.
At the time Zoe and I had a brief email exchange about what exactly ‘narrative‘ jewellery is/was … I’ve always struggled with these genre-definitional-related terms.
When asked ‘what I understood the term ‘narrative jewellery’ to mean‘, my immediate reply went like this: “[I] initially thought that it would be jewellery with a story, but then realised that almost all contemporary jewellery has a back-story or concept. Well, let’s see : it’s not figurative, purely conceptual, status objects, ‘ugly / unwearable’, materiality-exploration, technique-driven, tradition-busting, form-focal, lyric … could it be political or social commentary, personal commentary? Thoughts then wandered to the narrative usually referring to a ‘story of the self’, told in first-person… does this always have to be done in a way that is obvious to a viewer (to enable categorisation)?“. Clearly confused.
I really enjoyed reading Zoe’s essay again after seeing the show … and completely agree with her statement: “the work of Australian Anna Davern is, for me, the most successful example of what I would call narrative work in this exhibition. There was absolutely no need to read her statement to understand what her work suggests. These half-man-half-animal figures immediately and with much humor allude to the shared and bloody history of both Australia and Britain.“