Gold harp strings

20 10 2014

Recently I was told about wire strung harps, and that while mythology sometimes referred to them as ‘golden’ this may not have been hyperbole but in fact descriptive. What?! Yes, harps may have in fact been strung with gold.

What a fabulous thing.

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

Henry VIII playing harp; click on image for original Wiki source

A little bit of internets reading later, and I’ve found a few articles you may be interested in if you’d like to read more.

An article (2003) by Ann Heymann indicates that an Australian team were the first to practically explore the possibility of precious metal strings, and successfully used silver. Eventually she led a team that strung a specific kind of harp, a clairseach, with gold strings.

Another article (2010) by Cynthia Cathcart explores her own journey to string a harp with (sterling) silver.

Lastly, there’s an article comparing wire-strung and gut-strung harps … probably one for the musically focused reader. In fact the site this article is from is dedicated to harps … for the musician for sure!

So interesting … the second article will be of interest to technical metalsmiths, as it describes various hardness tests etc.

Upcoming Sydney visit

16 10 2014

So I’m popping into Sydney for a day-trip later in the month to see some jewellery exhibitions.

Powerhouse Museum’s ‘A fine possession: jewellery and identity‘ is first.
Then the ‘National Contemporary Jewellery Award‘ at COTA.
And M Contemporary ‘Intimately Connected‘.
If I have time I’ll pop into Studio 20/17 of course.

What else should I put on the list?

Update (20th October): maybe I can add Craft NSW ‘Emerging Artist: Craft Award 2014

Most important exhibition

14 10 2014

With thanks to a heads-up from the inimitable Zoe Brand of Personal Space Project fame, I’m now aware of a Kickstarter project ‘Shows & Tales‘: the AJF (Art Jewelry Forum) raising funds for a publication focusing on exhibitions.

Naturally I want to be a supporter … not the least because jewellery is my thing, but I’m very interested in reading and thinking about the content. I’m deciding between the various supporter levels, and one of them includes the publication on the AJF website of a brief paragraph about your most important exhibition.

I liked this idea so much I thought I’d write it here anyway. Perhaps there will be more than one when I give the idea a bit more time to sink in … but the first that came to mind was: ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘ in 2003. I wrote the below a few years ago and I’m not sure I can put it any better.

When I moved to Melbourne (to study goldsmithing) the first exhibition I visited was the 2003 RMIT Gold & Silversmithing Graduate exhibition ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘, which translates to ‘to the stars with difficulty’, at the Melbourne Gold Treasury Museum.

This was a key moment for me – I wandered around the exhibits and felt like I was in the right place; that this was something I not only wanted to do, but felt I was able to do, and it made sense to me and almost felt like home.


An epiphany of sorts

7 07 2014

I’ve been thinking a great deal about life works, legacies and labours of love.

I’ve been forlornly wishing I could have found, or can find, that one passion … that one great obsession … that one singular body of work or contribution that I can make and leave to the world.

Though of course things just don’t work that way.
And this weekend I’ve had an epiphany of sorts.

Instead of focusing on the outcome and hoping to derive the starting point from there, I just want to do something for the love of doing it. For the absorption in the act alone. And to experiment with lots of little activities and let the inspiration grab hold of me.

I know I’m not the first one to think this.
And perhaps I could have figured it out earlier.
I’m also sure that if someone had told me I wouldn’t have understood;
… I prefer to come to revelations like this all on my very own.


23 05 2014

More inspiration from art documentaries: International Klein Blue.

IKB191; click on image for original

IKB191; click on image for original

I adore this schematic of shades of blue:

click on image for original source

click on image for original source


20 05 2014

Have you read about Tulip-mania? An economic crazy-time in the early 1600s in Holland where prices of tulip bulbs reached ridiculous prices.

The most significant price was paid, so the story goes, for a single bulb of Semper Augustus – it was the equivalent of what it would cost to feed and clothe an entire family for their whole lifetime (10000 gilders).

This is a painting of the kind of pretty flower itself …

click on image for original source

click on image for original source

There’s no moral to this story … other than I often think about it when wondering if we’re all deluded about the value of some things …

moving on collective @ Milan Design Week

25 04 2014

A little while ago I supported the kickstarter campaign to get Moving On Collective to the Milan Design Week. They made their fundraising target and I’ve only just remembered to check their site to see what they got up to.

Their happening was titled ‘Ceci n’est pas un bijou‘ … ‘This is not a jewel’.

Event media: “When form follows FUNCTION, there is no argument in the design of the object. But what if the function of the object is ambiguous? And what if the signal it wants to send is absorbed into its esthetics?

These are not just pieces of adornment.
Nor can they be considered fine art pieces.
Instead they are fluctuating between art and design.

Contemporary jewellery and objects are so concentrated with narrative qualities that the functionality of the pieces is often ambiguous and considered unimportant.

When is an object functional?

Objects of personal value represent our sense of self, how we think, who we are, how we want to be perceived and finally how others perceive us.

Art jewellery stretches beyond logic, beyond utility and beyond materiality.

Moving On challenges the traditional definitions of adornment by pushing its functionality, context, wearability, materiality and presentation.

Their display construct was a giant cardboard chain, on which their jewels were displayed. Fantastic.

installation image; used with explicit permission from Moving On Collective

installation image; used with explicit permission from Moving On Collective

Without seeing it in person, it’s hard to talk much more about it – but I really wanted to share with you that the jewellery community is a strong one and that amazing things can happen with the support of others.

I look forward to seeing what they’re up to next.