On the spot: NMIT vs RMIT

20 12 2013

I was recently asked by a potential jewellery student for some advice about choosing between RMIT and NMIT.

BIG question.

So I thought I’d reproduce (without the parts personal to the original enquirer) my answer here, in case it’s of interest to others.

First things first: this conversation was only about these two schools, but it should be noted that other options are available (see this post) with the other most formal established school being Monash.

So … what was my answer?

It’s a tricky topic and one that everyone would answer differently.

I’m happy to give you my personal opinion, but it’s only mine and from my experience, and certainly not the gospel; the final decision can only be yours after all.

As a caveat though, (as you probably read on my blog) I did the RMIT course but it was years ago now (2004 – 2006); the course seems to be a little differently structured now and the projects different. To be quite honest, I didn’t know about NMIT when I applied to the university courses; I’d not lived in Melbourne before and only knew about Monash and RMIT. So I made a choice between those two (at the time I wanted to do a ‘university fine art degree’), based solely on how the interviews felt and what I thought of their graduate exhibitions and facilities. I loved RMIT but was happy that I had done jewellery evening classes beforehand, otherwise I’d have been under-prepared skills-wise.

On to RMIT vs NMIT:

Did you have a chance to see the graduate exhibitions? They were quite different and probably the most excellent demonstration of each school.

Did you have an interview at both schools? Perhaps you got a ‘gut-feel’ for the one that suited you best and felt right?

Each course seems to me to have quite a different focus – NMIT is known for being technically focused and connected to industry, and RMIT more conceptually and contextually focused. That is not at all a criticism, but a description of their historic evolution.

NMIT used to offer an evening or part-time stream (they may still?), which is helpful if you need to work during the day to fund uni.

If a student was really serious about jewellery or metalsmithing as a career, I’d personally recommend starting at NMIT to get a good grounding in technique and handskills; then going to RMIT if they’d like further artistic development and the international connections that university offers.

I have known a number of students who transferred into 2nd year RMIT after 1st year at NMIT – and that seemed like a good way of doing it (though that was a few years ago now, you’d best check if that’s still possible).

Another option may be to learn some handskills before you start either course.

One is the MADA (Monash) summer intensive. I’ve not done this before, but it looks like a great introductory option. http://artdes.monash.edu/fineart/shortcourses.php#

I’d also recommend Northcity4 classes (the people here are lovely), but the timing may not work with starting a uni course; though there’s no reason you couldn’t do both if you wanted to! http://northcity4.com/beginners-jewellery-2/

I hope that’s helpful. Most of all though I hope that I haven’t made it more confusing for you!

Best wishes for your decision and best of luck in your future – I’ll keep an eye out for your name in future exhibitions!

Everyone’s view on this would be different I expect.
The more views potential students are exposed to, the more informed their decision can be.
Please contribute and share your thoughts too.





Studying jewellery in Melbourne

27 11 2013

There have been some changes to the jewellery-education landscape this year, and it’s time to update previous posts about where to learn.

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With respect to formal degree study, the schools in Melbourne are:

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Now, short courses for jewellery and silversmithing:

  • NMIT : there are seven short courses currently on their website; Silversmithing and Enamelling are offered as a short courses, which is truly fabulous!; I did the Leisure Jewellery course (basically studio access) a few years ago and I thought the facilities were very good for jewellery; while I was there I witnessed the Intro course and thought it was well-structured (there is also an Intermediate course); I (still) intend to undertake the Gem Setting and the new CAD courses over the next year or two
  • Northcity4 : I’m an unashamedly huge supporter of NC4!; there are Beginners and Intermediate courses; Lost Wax Casting is offered too, as is Tutored Access (love this idea); there are also regular Workshops and Seminars to take part in
  • CAE : there are so many courses offered under ‘jewellery’ and ‘silversmithing’ at CAE; the courses range from bone carving to pearl stringing, casting and pendant in an evening ; CAE is connected to the now-defunct jewellery courses at Box Hill Tafe, so I wonder if their offering may change with the removal of jewellery courses at Box Hill? my experience at CAE wasn’t fabulous, but it was some years ago now and I wouldn’t be surprised if the facilities have since improved
  • RMIT : regularly holds a master class in Jan/Feb each year, though these are usually only for experience artisans
  • [update: 2nd Dec] Monash : just spotted there are short courses here too!

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There are also many jewellers who regularly open their studio doors and generously share their knowledge and passion.

… I’m sure there are many more, so I’ll add to this listing as I uncover them.

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I’d really like to create a listing of the best short courses in Melbourne for jewellery making – can you recommend where you’ve been or heard is good?

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Update (31st Jan 2014): via comment: The Gordon Institute in Geelong also offers jewellery making classes.

Update (24th March 2014): note that Redox Jewellery Studio has moved and has been renamed as Annie Broadway Studio, and they still offer classes

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NMIT graduates ’33 Carat’ @ Red Gallery

10 11 2013

In what may be a first, I’ve managed to actually visit an exhibition in its first few days. I know; it is excellent.

In a break from recent years, the NMIT Jewellery Graduate (Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology) exhibition, ‘33 Carat‘, is being shown at Red Gallery.

It’s a lovely bright space; I like this better than the previous venue for its light and the partitions/walls make the experience less daunting or visually overwhelming.

photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

First impressions include:

  • more variety of materials
  • less high-polish (that’s a good thing in my personal opinion)
  • more lyrical pieces
  • not as much enamel this year
  • … and of course the high quality construction is still a constant of NMIT graduates.
  • and most especially gorgeous, a few examples of opals as a gem of choice. Perhaps this has had something to do with last year’s Part B exhibition ‘Oh Opal!‘ and Kim Victoria’s recent collections.
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

Participating makers are (alphabetical by surname):

  • Sally Balfour, Zoe Beman, Jeremy Bryant
  • Samantha Carr, Linda Clark, Tom Corbett
  • Adrian Dyson
  • Sarah Gibson, Anna Maidment Gray
  • Arlia Hassell, Imogen Hobbs, Verity J Hollingworth, Sian E. Horrocks
  • Yu Ishito [site]
  • Takako Kajiya [site], Michael W Kilner, Jana King
  • Willem Asher Payten, Kim Bach Pham [blog]
  • Claire Renehan, Meegan Roberts, Marie Rose
  • Beth Sayer, Gabrielle Sharp, Carmel Sheehy, Lizzie Slattery
  • Dale Williams
  • Sally Zurbo
photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

Collections I most connected with include:

  • Jeremy Bryant’s bold opal pieces
  • Sarah Gibson’s geometric pieces, some with synthetic opals used to amazing effect
  • Sally Zurbo’s earrings using choum iybsa, the shapes are lovely
  • Yu Ishito’s whimsical enamel pieces are beautifully displayed
  • Adrian Dyson’s amazing objects

Photos of some of these works are below … click on the ‘read more’.

33 Carat‘ is at Red Gallery until 23rd November 2013.

2012 ‘Kaleidoscope‘ @ Northcote Town Hall

2011 ‘Auteur‘ @ Northcote Town Hall

2010 ‘Forge‘ @ Northcote Town Hall

2009 ‘Mint‘ @ Northcote Town Hall

Update (11th November): I thought it may be interesting to republish the comment I wrote on this post today (for the super-lazy, who don’t want to click the ‘comments’ link .. you know, I like being helpful!):

“To add to my post, this year I felt something that I’ve had trouble putting into words; but I’ll try here (comments are more forgiving I think).

I think there was a genuine sense of individuality and personality and personal expression … in that it felt like I could feel something of the maker in the works, that I could sense a little of who they are … not that it’s not been there in previous years, but it seemed very evident to me this year. This is a wonderful thing, walking away feeling like you’ve ‘met’ the makers to a degree … I’m not sure if any of that makes sense … see what I mean about finding it difficult to put into words.”

Read the rest of this entry »





Short courses in Melbourne, update

13 01 2013

Update [27th November 2013]: please go to this NEW updated and revised post about jewellery classes in Melbourne, as information in this post may now be outdated

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It’s been a while since I last wrote about courses available in Melbourne for Gold & Silversmithing (ie. jewellery and objects) – so I thought an update was in order and perfect timing for those thinking about what they’ll do this year.

With respect to full-time degree study (while I won’t go into too much detail here) the schools in Melbourne are:

Now, short courses for jewellery and silversmithing, in Melbourne.

I’d really like to create a listing of the best short courses in Melbourne for jewellery making – can you recommend where you’ve been or heard is good?

Update [6th February]: I’ve only just discovered that Victoria Mason is also holding classes for beginners!

Update [12th February]: I’ve also been told about classes at Redox Jewellery Studio in Geelong (no, it’s not Melbourne, but pretty close! actually, it’s a pretty easy drive…)

Update [2nd June]: I’ve recently spotted that William Llewellyn Griffiths, of Metal Couture, also holds wax carving classes.

Update [3oth July]: if you’re closer to Eltham, check out Jeanette Dyke‘s classes

Update [28th August]: NMIT has a new course on CAD, excellent! I really want to learn more about this, so may do this course (when I’m feeling better).

Update [4th October]: NMIT has a new course in Enamelling – hoorah!

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NMIT ‘Kaleidoscope’ @ Northcote Town Hall

21 11 2012

By serendipity I found myself in Northcote earlier today, so popped in to see ‘Kaleidoscope‘, the NMIT graduate (Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology (Jewellery), 2yrs) exhibition.

photograph taken with student representative permission

There are some highly technical constructions here, and much shiny-ness(?), and quite a lot to like.

It’s a shame there weren’t take home works-lists – it would have made it easier to remember everyone’s work and a good keepsake.

Again enameling made a strong appearance. Also, I noticed some more Choum Iybsa than I’d seen in previous years, so wonder if that was a new skill taught during the course or if the students found their own way to the technique…

photograph taken with student representative permission

Participating artists are (as per media listing):

  • Emily Becher [blog]
  • Olivia Boyle
  • Anita Crowther [remember her splendid neckpiece at last year's auction?]
  • Jo Hawley – I really liked the formality and simplicity of her work, the forms were beautiful
  • Annelies Hofmeyr [update: site] – her enameled cloud sculptures were lovely and very well executed
  • Sarah Johnson – her construction looks amazingly complex!
  • Sarah Kerr [facebook]
  • Maria Natoli [facebook]
  • Sophie Prestige
  • Maryam Satar
  • Alannah Sheridan
  • Yuan Yuan Xi [update: facebook]
  • Sylvia Ballerini [facebook]
  • Amber Craven
  • Jacques Cudis
  • Rachael Fares [update: facebook]
  • Qiaojian (Hannah) He
  • Kieran Jackson
  • Felicity Large [update: site]
  • Tess McAuslan-King
  • Caroline McQueen [site]
  • Niamh Minogue – I liked her enameled pendants so much I bought the dark blue one (after this photograph!); I loved how these were displayed, a mixture between museum layout and Warwick Freeman-esk investigation group – much to love

    photograph taken with student representative permission; sorry it’s dark, I didn’t use flash

  • Louise Napolitano
  • Ann O’Connor
  • Elizabeth Rich
  • Massimo Todaro
  • Katrina van Domburgh [tumblr]
  • Kim White
  • Lisa Williams
  • Nicole Smith

There’s a lot to like – get along.
If you’re interested, check out my post on last year’s exhibition ‘Auteur‘.
Also check out Jessica Helen’s post, with the award listing too.

One curious matter is the lack of internet presence of these artists … something I’ll expand on in another post soon.

Kaleidoscope‘ is at Northcote Town Hall until 25th November 2012, open weekends too.





Jewellery fundraising auctions reminder

3 05 2012

Okay now. It wouldn’t do for anyone to forget that there are TWO, yes TWO, jewellery auctions in the coming weeks.

Next Wednesday: 9th May
NMIT Jewellery fundraising Auction [facebook page]; “The Advanced Diploma students of 2012 present to you an exciting opportunity to purchase exquisite handmade pieces of jewellery at exceptional prices. Crack open your piggy bank, get your bidding arm ready and help them raise funds for their Graduate Exhibition.

facebook profile picture

The following Wednesday: 16th May
Box Hill Institute silent jewellery auction

auction media

Jewellery ahoy!!