Tertiary open days 2014

20 04 2014

If you’re in high school and thinking about studying jewellery / making at university, or at any stage in life and considering your next creative move, then you’ll want to get to the university open days.

It’s a great way to get a feel for a place, see the facilities first-hand, and speak with lecturers and in many cases current students.

Melbourne universities:

  • NMIT: actually has regular information evenings, next one is 19th June [link]; keep an eye on their academic calendar for announcements of their formal open day
  • Monash: 2nd & 3rd August [link]
  • RMIT: 10th August [link]

It’s not the end of the world if you can’t make it though – I didn’t and believe I was still able to get a good feel for each university (RMIT and Monash) during my interviews. But if you can possibly do it, try to find the time.

Hoorah: 5 years and 1200 posts

1 03 2014

Today is my fifth anniversary … five years since I started writing this blog.

The first year anniversary called for paper (traditional) or clocks (modern).
The second year anniversary called for cotton (traditional) or china (modern).
The third year anniversary calls for leather (traditional) or crystal (modern).
The fourth year anniversary calls for fruit or flowers (traditional) or appliances (modern).
The fifth anniversary calls for wood (traditional) or silverware (modern) … ooh…

Perhaps to celebrate, an image of my favourite silversmithing object : ‘Avebury‘.

Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

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.

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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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 (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


Two questions

17 11 2013

Please tell me if you know the answers:

1. unless I’m suffering from online-blindness, I cannot find any media for ‘Fresh!‘ this year (the annual survey of graduate work that has been at Craft for many years; I couldn’t make last year, but these are the stories for 2011, 2010, 2009) … is it not happening?

2. again, perhaps I’m not using the right search terms, but I cannot find any listing for an exhibition of RMIT 1st and 2nd year Gold & Silversmithing students (other years’ stories 2011, 2010, 2009) … is it not happening?


Update (21st November): please see the comments (from the most excellent Katie Jayne Britchford) for the full answers, but in short:
1. yes it will be happening early in the new year
2. no, it’s not happening