Mari Funaki Award

14 03 2014

I’m so pleased to share with you the news from Gallery Funaki (though I’m sure most of you have already seen it!):

We’re thrilled to announce the inaugural Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery. Mari was a unique and passionate advocate for contemporary jewellery in Australia, both through her own remarkable practice and her establishment and directorship of Gallery Funaki.

This Award aims to celebrate Mari’s legacy by rewarding the skills and vision of jewellers both here and overseas and by providing a platform for outstanding new work to be shown here in Australia. A panel of three judges (to be announced) will award prizes in both established and emerging categories, with total prize money valued at AUD$11,000.

For entry conditions and more information, please email Award Manager Chloë Powell at or download the PDF below [link here].

The Award is generously supported by Vivienne and Leo Donati, Johannes Hartfuss and Fabian Jungbeck.

event media

event media

Important dates:

  • Applications close: 18 June 2014 (11:59pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time)
  • Finalists notified: 25 June 2014
  • Work/s received by: 30 July 2014
  • Award exhibition: 12 August – 13 September 2014

How absolutely wonderful.

Melbourne Now ‘Contemporary Jewellery’ @ NGV

19 02 2014

I must admit to being rather ambivalent about this mega-exhibition-event. ‘Melbourne Now‘ is a huge collection of shows and events, staged by National Gallery of Victoria, spread across the two main galleries and many other locations.

Why haven’t I been overwhelmingly excited (like many others it seems)? Perhaps it’s just me, but I found the exhibition website difficult to navigate and frankly confusing. It felt awkward to get a handle on all that was happening (I’ve used the word ‘bamboozled’ more than once when discussing it). Looking at the website this week though it feels less tricksy; perhaps it has evolved over the length of the exhibition.

Eventually I found my way to the ‘Contemporary Jewellery‘ exhibition.

on the landing of floor 3 of NGV international

on the landing of floor 3 of NGV international; not sure why some of the lighting looks yellow (my camera isn’t very fancy to figure such things out)

Exhibition media: “Melbourne is recognised as a leading centre for the production of contemporary jewellery. Presented via a mild steel armature designed by Melbourne architecture firm Muir Mendes, this installation presents diverse technical, material and conceptual approaches to jewellery, including millennia-old craft traditions and innovative new methods.

Am I being especially sensitive to be a little uncertain about the show being on the landing? It’s a good use of the space sure, a high traffic area and therefore providing good exposure; though it’s not exactly high status … or is it in fact the highest status, with not being hidden in a room? Well, now I’m just unsure about it.
The cases are sleek though; I liked them.


Meredith Turnbull, Stephen Gallagher, Phoebe Porter

Participating artists (reverse-alphabetical by surname, as per Melbourne Now listing):

  • Meredith Turnbull, Blanche Tilden
  • Lousje Skala
  • Emma Price, Phoebe Porter, Nicole Polentas, Tiffany Parbs
  • David Neale
  • Vicki Mason, Sally Marsland, Carlier Makigawa
  • Manon van Kouswijk
  • Marian Hosking, Kirsten Haydon, Jo Hawley
  • Allona Goren, Stephen Gallagher
  • Maureen Faye-Chauhan
  • Mark Edgoose
  • Bin Dixon-Ward
  • Nicholas Bastin, Roseanne Bartley, Robert Baines

There are links for each of the artists on the exhibition page.

For me the most outstanding object was by Robert Baines (below) – the colouring and construction are a progression from recent work, and I love that it’s new and I haven’t seen it before. It’s a crazy kind of coral growth in purples and pinks and silvery-whites and gold. Outrageous and fabulous.
I would like to take it home with me … anyone want to donate it to my place?

Robert Baines

Robert Baines

It isn’t a simple matter to just list the other pieces I liked, for there were many indeed. That said though, Meredith Turnbull’s work is stunning and certainly worth mentioning.

In an adjacent room Meredith has also created a space and materials for children to create their own neckpieces and add to the wall display. This was a total delight and a wonderful way to bring the little ones into the art and making world.

neckpieces on display

neckpieces on display

It’s worth exploring the other rooms on the same floor.
I thought the collection of Prue Venables‘s ‘Tea Strainers‘ were beautiful.
And the watercolour faces of Sangeeta Sandrasegar were evocative and thoughtful (VettiLiveinNorthcote showcases this work too).

I did look about on the other floors, though am sad to report that nothing there took my heart or mind. I’m kind of disappointed, as I was hoping to be swept away and amazed. Perhaps though it was just my frame of mind on the day…

Mark Holsworth of Black Mark blog wrote about it; and I especially liked his connection of the event branding colour to the ‘Yellow Peril’.

Marcus Banyan, of ArtBlart blog, has written at length also (part1, part2); I agree with his overview and particularly responded to his summary on the first post.

Melbourne Now‘ is at NGV and other locations until 23rd March 2014.


Update (a few hours after initial publication): Since writing the above I’ve been wondering – does anyone know how the artists were selected to be part of this exhibition? I’m fairly certain it wasn’t by open submission or application; perhaps invitation or curator selection or gallery recommendation?

Of the 23 makers, there are two emerging (early career) artists only a few years out of university. Many of the artists are probably best described as early or mid-career; and quite a number are established.

It could be suggested that a ‘now‘ exhibition would do well to include more work from the newer makers or even from students (or more experimental individuals). That said though, it must be acknowledged that the strength of the Melbourne jewellery community is its diversity and support across ‘experience’ depth, so including all levels is perfectly reasonable.

Looking at the artist biographies, it looks like there aren’t any who have not undertaken formal education – even though the text on the wall mentions the richness of the community including self-taught makers.

Still much to think about.


Update (21st February): Marcus’s text I mention above is worth reproducing here for your reading enjoyment (with author permission): “As with any group exhibition there are highs and lows, successes and failures. Totally over this fad for participatory art spread throughout the galleries. Too much deconstructed/performance/collective design art that takes the viewer nowhere. Good effort by the NGV but the curators were, in some cases, far too clever for their own (and the exhibitions), good. 7/10“.

Also worth reading is the review that Marcus also quotes: that in the Sydney Morning Herald – it’s pretty scathing by my reading.

One of my favourite statements: “… the exhibition is an act of metropolitan navel-gazing on a scale inconceivable in any other Australian capital. The catalogue is filled with references to Melbourne’s global status and international sophistication, but this event is insular and tribal almost by definition.”


Thankfully I knew my interest (energy and attention) limitations and only wanted to look at the one aspect of the whole show (for which I am unashamed) – for just reading about the whole shebang makes me reel and feel like I’m drowning (and we come back to my initial impression of the bamboozle).


‘PROJECT: Jewellery for T-shirts’ @ Gallery Funaki

4 02 2014

With this show Gallery Funaki launches its “series of occasional, week-long shows collectively titled PROJECT:  These short exhibitions explore collaborations, new enquiries and multidisciplinary approaches, and seek connections with artists from outside the jewellery field who engage with the body as a platform for their practice.

This is “PROJECT: Jewellery for T-shirts“, a collaboration between Helen Britton (of my lust-list fame) and Justine McKnight.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

It was quite something to walk into Funaki and see it exhibiting objects so different from previous visits. The garments were beautifully serene, elegant, and sometimes gently animated by the zephyr through the open door. Being in a (familiar) gallery setting put me in the mindset of viewing them as works of art, more than simply clothes.

Exhibition media: “We’re intrigued by the interplay between clothing and jewellery. The physicality of one influences the other as we work with the weight of cloth or metal, the size and shape of elements, the texture of a surface or an edge. Then there’s the content: deconstruction, process, mark, gesture, structure and materiality. Transience. The forms react to one other, not only through the making process, but finally on the body as well: arranging, rearranging, each movement suggesting new possibilities.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

It dawned on me – why don’t we makers do this more often? Make jewellery in response to specific garments? I know it’s done for fashion collections, presented in shows and such. And I imagine of course for high-end ensembles. What about our everyday favourite items? Why shouldn’t your favourite t-shirt have its own custom designed brooch (especially positioned of course) or neckpiece? [Or does everyone do this and no-one told me?!]

I love this idea; and I very much enjoyed the beauty of the outcome. The sympathy and understanding between the two makers is obvious.

The combination at the front of the above image is the most striking. Though it is closely rivaled by the one at the back of this row, with the black marks scattering across the body and a gorgeous brooch worn on the upper left.

I think it’s super that Gallery Funaki have introduced these mini-exhibitions – little forays into perhaps more adventurous arenas, giving the gallery and its visitors some wriggle-room to experiment and play and perhaps even take a risk. I do look forward to the next one.

PROJECT: Jewellery for T-shirts‘ is at Gallery Funaki until this Saturday 8th February.

‘Supermarket’ @ Craft

11 12 2013

The Supermarket‘ event/exhibition at Craft exercised my mind, and days later it still is.

Questions of mass-production versus hand-production versus limited-production, and the influence on value perception, play on my little grey cells.



Exhibition media: “Exploring the phenomenon of markets and production ware, Supermarket transforms the gallery into a marketplace of limited edition works exclusive to Craft from a select group of Melbourne makers and designers.
Curated by Debbie Pryor a selection of artists have been invited to create exclusive ranges as an extension of products in the retail store or reinvention of exhibition concepts.

Participating artists are:

installation of Anna Davern + Lucy James

installation of Anna Davern + Lucy James

There are so many pieces from each maker here, that it represents quite a significant investment in time – above and beyond any ‘regular’ exhibition or even any level of stocking a retail space.

Naturally the individual works are super (especially the Lucy James prints), though somehow I kept wanting to view it as an ‘exhibition’ … and in that way I’m not entirely sure it all genuinely works, but then again (given the concept) I expect it isn’t meant to.

That said, I imagine that the market day (this Saturday 14th) will be the time when it truly shines. And as one can purchase and take-away immediately, it should be great for gift-giving … but let’s hope some of the works remain for the special day!

Strange that I feel the need to make the distinction between ‘exhibition’ vs ‘market’ so clear … something to think more about, and perhaps that is the whole point of ‘Supermarket‘. Or maybe I’m just thinking too much.

Check out the ladies of HandMadeLife’s post about it: they describe it as a “concept driven, exhibition meets retail event hybrid” … this totally nails it.

The Craft facebook page has many gorgeous photographs.

Supermarket‘ is at Craft until 24th December 2013.

RMIT graduates ‘Good+as+Gold’ @ fortyfive downstairs

9 12 2013

I walked out of this exhibition impressed, with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.

Gold+as+Gold‘, at fortyfive downstairs, is the year-end exhibition for graduates from RMIT Object-based Practice, Gold and Silversmithing.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

This is such a fabulous gallery space. The pieces look elegant on their spindly-legged tables; so much better than thick imposing plinths.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Participating artists (in alphabetical order by surname):

  • Ruby Aitchison (Honours), Natasha Avila [website], Megan Ayton
  • Sue Buchanan, Pamela Chan, Katie Collins
  • Natt Diamond, Rachel Fares
  • Eli Giannini, Fatima Grant, Ceciella Ezra Gregory, Annie Gobel (Honours) [hibernating blog], Marcos Guzman (Honours) [Kit & Caboodle profile]
  • Zahrah Habibullah [website], Sarah Jones (Stubbs), Kim Jonsson
  • Varuni Kanagasundaram (Honours), Inari Kiuru (Honours) [hibernating blog], Wendy Korol (Honours) [hibernating blog]
  • Steven Leslie, Bethwyn Mell (Honours), Roslyn Ann Peric [Kit & Caboodle profile]
  • Stephen Robb (Honours) [blog], Jana Roman [blog]
  • Elise Sheehan (Honours) [tumblr], Kate Wischusen [website]
  • Michael Wong, Xuelin Wong
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Dominant materials, in my initial perceptions, included mild steel and enamel.
There were hardly any, if any, stones or gem setting.
Smithing was also more evident than previous years.

I enjoyed looking at much of the work, especially though:

  • Zahrah Habibullah’s ‘Family Heirloom Brooch Series – Brother’; my most outstanding single piece in the exhibition, I loved the shape and the colouring

    photograph taken with gallery permission

    photograph taken with gallery permission

  • Inari Kiuru, ‘From Saturnalia Industrialis-series‘; I saw some of this collection in the ‘Wondernamel 2013‘ exhibition
  • Kate Wischusen ‘Montparnasse‘ brooches; also admired at ‘Wondernamel 2013
  • Michael Wong, beautiful smithing vessels
  • Natasha Avila, ‘Immersed reflections‘ brooch
  • Sue Buchanan, ‘Gold seams‘ bangle
  • Pamela Chan, ‘A Brushwork‘, lyric blackened mild steel objects
  • Elise Sheehan, ‘No full stops‘ group of objects [foreground]

    photograph taken with gallery permission

    photograph taken with gallery permission

  • Wendy Korol, ‘Goodbye Blue Wren #2‘ [middle-ground] & Rachel Fares objects [foreground], creating a little dialogue as they sat together

    photograph taken with gallery permission

    photograph taken with gallery permission

  • Eli Giannini, contemporary mourning jewellery displayed on custom-made mirrors

Naturally I purchased the accompanying book (as I do every year). It is of beautiful quality, and I like that this year it includes artist statements. However I’m in two minds about whether the $20 is a little on the expensive side; on one hand it’s pretty special, but on the other hand I expect those of us choosing to buy the book as a momento are also those who have supported the auction and fundraising efforts already.

The gallery works listing did not include contact details for the students, as the NMIT and Box Hill students did for their exhibition. It’s a small thing, but hopefully an artist can be found if a gallery visitor is exceptionally excited about their work.

Gold+as+Gold‘ is at fortyfive downstairs until 14th December 2013.


2012 As Above, So Below‘ @ Victorian Artist Society

2011 It was like a Fever’ @ No Vacancy Gallery

2010 Bell Weather‘ @ £1000 bend

2009 Cornucopia‘ @ Guildford Lane Gallery


ps. I wish I could point you to the 1st and 2nd year exhibition, but for the first time in ages there isn’t one. I may write about this development soon, but this makes me quite sad. And unfortunately I didn’t get my act together to see ‘Oomph‘, the Honours exhibition at RMIT First Site Gallery; for some reason I had in my mind that they were open on a Saturday.


Beauty in the city

8 12 2013

Cathedral Arcade.

Part of the Nicholas Building.

Cathedral Arcade

Cathedral Arcade