‘A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity‘ @ Powerhouse Museum

28 10 2014

Jewellery lovers need to see the Powerhouse Museum’s ‘A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity‘. It’s astonishing and there are so many pieces from such a breadth of sub-genres.

photography under gallery conditions; no flash

photography under gallery conditions; no flash

Exhibition media: “Jewellery has been made and worn for personal, social and cultural reasons through millennia. Styles, materials and practices have varied across time and place, yet the desire to adorn ourselves has been universal.
Jewellery can influence the way people perceive us, make us more attractive, mark special events or symbolise wealth and status. We make, wear, give, receive, collect and express our identity, individuality and creativity through jewellery. It contributes to our spiritual, cultural and emotional well-being.
A fine possession celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present-day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia.

The website is excellent and shows selected items from each of the themes in the exhibition.

  • Belief & Magic – the kingfisher feather pieces were utterly gorgeous, and the inclusion of quite a broad group of pre-industrial cultures was great to see
  • Love & Death
  • Nature & Culture
  • Style & Revival
  • Gold & Identity
  • Status & Wealth
  • Men & Adornment
  • Modernity & Change
  • Evolution & Revolution
photography under gallery conditions; no flash

photography under gallery conditions; no flash

Within the cabinets where were explorations of sub-themes too … materials, identity (I was exceptionally happy to see Nicole Polentas included here), fantasy (and again I was most pleased Claire McArdle is represented here) …

There are a genuinely impressive number of pieces, with many being loaned from private and other collections. My visit made me want to know more about the oft-mentioned ‘Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences’ … which after only a little investigation it became clear was in fact the parent of the Powerhouse. So I have visited them after all!

It surprised me that there were pieces here from the NGV that I’ve not seen exhibited in our own gallery before – including a stunning opal tiara.

I’m sure others have written, and will write, more eloquently about the structure of the exhibition and other such technical matters. I’ll attempt to list them at the bottom of this post as they arise.

photography under gallery conditions; no flash

photography under gallery conditions; no flash

You can see from the images above that the room was dark. Damn dark. Painted black and only with limited lighting on the items.

What is this about? Have curators recently all made a pact to do this (remember the Incas at NGA earlier this year)? I found the darkness disorienting and exceptionally tiring; it was difficult to refocus my eyes after looking at the underlit cabinets to find my way to the next one. It was genuinely disconcerting and exhausting.

The description cards were also a little disappointing with the names of the makers being almost secondary (an example is below). It is in much smaller text than the headline, which was usually a description like brooch or the title of the work, and even came after the materials listing.

item card

item card

In an ante-room there are two cabinets with work of graduates – which is fabulous. And they were well lit; making the discomfort of the main exhibition viewing all the more obvious. The most outstanding from this group was a three brooch group by Andrea Caliguiri (item card above).

It’s a shame that there isn’t a publication associated with this exhibition. Though I wonder, given many of the pieces are loaned, if there just wasn’t time before the opening. Does anyone know if a publication may be coming? What a magnificent opportunity to document such a group … I hope one is forthcoming. Perhaps a kick-starter project would help? I’d totally donate!

Nature cabinet; photography under gallery conditions; no flash

Nature cabinet; photography under gallery conditions; no flash

All that said, I enjoyed the exhibition and consider it a landmark for jewellery; in fact I mentioned to friend afterwards that I think this is the best gathering of jewellery I’ve ever seen, even better than the V&A (though that could be a little hyperbolic, and it’s only fair to admit that my memory has faded a little on that count).

A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity‘ is at Powerhouse Museum (Sydney) until 20th September 2015. I may in fact visit again.

Press / Reviews

18th September: Jewellery gone overboard at Powerhouse Museum? Suits you sir (The Age)

20th September: Nicole Kidman’s Moulin Rouge necklace stars in Powerhouse Museum exhibition A Fine Possession (Herald Sun)

28th September: Sim Luttin, A Fine Possession

1st October: A Fine Possession – Rare Gem at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum

1st October: A Fine Possession: Jewellery and Identity Review

25th October: radio interview: Jewellery expert Anne Schofield (one of the key people involved in this exhibition)

Update (30th October): make sure you watch Powerhouse Museum’s Facebook page – they’re regularly focusing on pieces from the exhibition.





‘National Contemporary Jewellery Award‘ @ COTA

26 10 2014

Hooowee, I’d forgotten how humid Sydney can feel in Spring; but the sun was out and that always makes me happy.

As planned, I popped into Courtesy of the Artist to see the ‘National Contemporary Jewellery Award‘.

Exhibition media: “The National Contemporary Jewellery Award was started in 1992 by the Griffith Regional Art Gallery to support the development of the National Contemporary Jewellery Collection.

photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

COTA’s gallery room is a beautiful space.

It was a strange experience though – I think I’ve already seen the pieces (perhaps all; though if not, almost all) online, so seeing them in person wasn’t as much of a thrill as it would be without the prior exposure.

Of course I’m glad I saw them in person – and I really do think that the prevalence of online documentation of exhibitions is completely fabulous (especially for anyone not able to go due to geography or mobility etc) – though this may be something for curators to think about.

I wonder if the ease of seeing pieces online (facebook especially) is taking the edge off the need to visit exhibitions in person? Though I expect that it may also in fact be increasing traffic. Do any gallery staff have a feel for the impact of online photos? As a balance, I would suspect that a few key pieces online would be ideal, with full documentation after the show has closed (oh wait, that’s been the case here, as this is a traveling show!).

Thoughts from more experienced curators, and other exhibition visitors, are most welcome.

photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

Participating artists are:

  • Sun-Woong Bang, Alyra Bartasek, Julie Blyfield, Brendon Collins
  • Emma Fielden, Karin Findeis, Felix Gill, Pennie Jagiello
  • Lauren Joffe, Rebecca Hinwood, Carly Lay, Danielle Mackenzie
  • Vicki Mason, Shan Shan Mok, Courtnee Nichols, Carl Noonan
  • Juliette Pastorok, Felicity Peters, Jessamy Pollock,Phoebe Porter
  • Jana Roman, Bridgette Shepherd, Emily Snadden, Sarah Spackman, Blanche Tilden
photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

Highlights for me were:

  • brooches by Emma Fielen
  • brooches by Jessamy Pollack (whose work I admired in BUDA last year)
  • colourful neckpiece (centre in image above) by Karin Findeis.

National Contemporary Jewellery Award 2014′ is at Courtesy of the Artist (Sydney) until 1st November 2014.

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Update (28th October): It was remiss of me not to link to the Griffith Regional Gallery, where “NCJA is an acquisitive prize sponsored by Griffith City Council and held at Griffith Regional Art Gallery biennially.“. This exhibition showed there 4th – 28th September.

Also, their facebook page is where I saw high quality images of the works.

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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





Bit. Excited.

14 09 2014

Jewellery lovers of Australia – you need to know about this!
Though you probably already do, no doubt
… but just in case…

The Powerhouse Museum (in Sydney) is in the process of installing their upcoming exhibition “A fine possession: jewellery and identity“.

Exhibition media: “Among the rarely seen items on display will be ancient Egyptian scarab jewels, Chinese kingfisher-feather jewels and a magnificent tiara and necklace made from exotic beetles for an English aristocrat. Australian highlights will include gold-rush jewellery, Indigenous necklaces made from pearl shells, a diamond Art Deco brooch in the form of aviator Charles Kingsford-Smith’s legendary ‘Southern Cross’ aircraft and the fabulous ‘Satine’ necklace worn by Nicole Kidman in the film Moulin Rouge. A striking selection of contemporary studio jewellery will reveal the imagination and skill of some of the most talented local and international jewellers working at the crossroads of art, craft and design.

For more see the Museum website [above is from here].

The exhibition opens 24th September 2014.

exhibition media; click on image for original source

exhibition media; click on image for original source





Powerhouse Museum

21 02 2014

Recently my friend and fabulous jeweller Nicole Polentas highlighted that one of her pieces is part of the Powerhouse Museum’s permanent collection (purchased in 2012). How super!

Being a Melbourne resident (for just over a decade now), I’m not very familiar with the Powerhouse Museum (it’s in Sydney; you probably knew that). This new information gave me reason to investigate further online.

I am especially impressed with their pages sharing details of their acquisitions. I believe every publicly funded art institution should follow this example. [I couldn't see equivalent information on the NGV site.]

Even more impressive is the number of contemporary, and older, jewellery items acquired in recent years; much donated and others purchased, many of those using the Yasuko Myer Bequest.

Yay for the Powerhouse Museum.

I understand that the Art Gallery of South Australia has a wonderful collection of contemporary jewellery under the bequest, the Rhianon Vernon-Roberts Memorial Collection. Sadly I couldn’t find much information on this on their website; though I do remember seeing it in person when our university group visited the gallery and had a private showing. Ah memories.

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And while speaking of the Powerhouse, Gallery Loupe’s facebook page mentions that there is something pretty special brewing for September this year. Oooooh, exciting.





‘Summer’ in situ @ Studio 20/17

12 12 2012

Just a quick little post … Studio 20/17 have shared images on their blog of the exhibition, and my group has its own photo.

They look so wonderful!

from Studio 20/17 blog; click on image for original source

from Studio 20/17 blog; click on image for original source

Hoorah! Thank you Bridget and Melanie!





Even more ‘Summer Earrings’

10 12 2012

The last two earrings I sent to Studio 20/17 for ‘Deck the Walls‘, their Christmas Showcase 2012.

  • Miami’ (approx. 40 * 20mm) : reminiscent of the colours used on Art Deco buildings in Miami USA; also, strangely, of the pastel fever of the early 80s

    ‘Miami’, photograph not to be reproduced without permission

  • Jumpsuit‘ (approx. 50 * 23mm) : the large size and strong colours, you know it’s ready for day out roller-skating in the sunshine

    ‘Jumpsuit’, photograph not to be reproduced without permission

Deck the Walls‘ is at Studio 20/17 until 24th December 2012, and you get to take-away when you buy (not at the end of the show).