Vito Bila ‘Unseamly Vessels’ @ Craft

19 08 2014

There simply aren’t enough silversmithing exhibitions.
Large scale metalwork is magnificent.
Vito Bila is one of smiths I admire most.
He is showing a collection of work at Craft, titled ‘Unseamly Vessels‘.

It’s a particularly apt title I think, for in my eyes the work has evolved from exceptionally minimal vessels (of many years ago) to these pieces …

installation

installation

… where the seams are distinctly obvious, exaggerated or highlighted. Some with texture, some with technique, and some with thick application of alternative metals (in the aluminium on copper vessels).

A handful of the pieces on show are from 2007, with others from 2011 and since.

The below vessels are the standouts to me – stainless steel, with precision-spaced welding dots … beautiful. The paper studies for these were in the previous exhibition I saw of his work, at Monash.

Vessel cluster #1 (2012)

Vessel cluster #1 (2012)

I’m at a bit of a loss with respect to the chosen exhibition design (the off-angle green one at the back upsets my peculiar penchant for lined up edges) – perhaps the uneven and distinct tables reflect the seams on the vessels. That said, the pre-loved work tables are a most effective contrast to the refined cabinets of the ‘Transplantation‘ exhibition in the same room.

Best of all, it pleases me no end that there is not a highly polished surface in sight.

Vito Bila ‘Unseamly Vessels‘ is at Craft until 30th August 2014.

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See also: September 2012 Vito Bila ‘narrative

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Kirsten Haydon ‘Ice storeroom’ @ Craft

25 07 2014

Kirsten was one of my two enameling teachers at RMIT. And for that I will be forever grateful – I love the practice, though of course haven’t done any for many years now. Not like Kirsten – she continues to explore the technique and her connection with the Antarctic in Ice storeroom‘ at Craft.

installation; photograph taken with gallery permission

installation; photograph taken with gallery permission

The installation is wonderful. I like how it transports you to another space – moving through the structure it encloses you and it genuinely feels like you’re quite separate from the gallery. It evokes a sparsely built storeroom.

The brooches are mostly circular (though with differing diameters), and seem to me to refer to ice cores.

Exhibition media: “The ice has a remarkable quality of preserving and storing knowledge within its structure. Inclusions, both micro and macro, in the ice can provide detail about the moment the ice was formed. This knowledge could be accessed from analysing the trapped gases or dust particles or by connecting with the narrative of an enclosed man-made object.
In this installation Ice storeroom builds on Haydon’s previous work with Antarctica and explores the notion that Antarctica is a repository for environmental and cultural knowledge.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

There is more colour in this show than in her previous; with the additional hues within a limited palette of greys and blues and rusts, with a shot of dark grey / black in the bracelet in the foreground above.

Once again I like the neckpieces made of tube-components; and I loved the little objects and the neckpiece ‘ice monitor‘.

I initially thought that many of the pieces could be considered to be quite similar to previous collections (certainly not meant as a criticism but more an observation). However then I realised that newer pieces in this exhibition are accompanied with a smattering of older pieces (from 2006 and since), which may explain my sense of familiarity. I may also be experiencing ignorance or failing memory – I’m absolutely sure that were all the work to be in one room a progression would be completely obvious; and can you imagine how gorgeous that room would be!

That said, some of the neckpieces here show incredibly interesting development of form and construction (as in the ‘Lure of Radium‘ below).

I’d also like to know more about the installation on the back wall; for it is unique in the exhibition in including porcelain in the materials – though I couldn’t quite tell where…

media image; click on image for original source

media image in SMH article; click on image for original source

This exhibition has also been reviewed and written about by:

  • SMH: with a beautiful photograph and well-researched and thoughtful commentary
  • HandMadeLife: with many stunning photographs (including one of ‘ice monitor‘; my favourite statement “Every time we’ve seen her work there has been a level of finesse that makes the ideas feel as complete as the actual work. That accuracy of thinking and of execution is evident in every object, every surface, every well-considered corner of this installation.”
  • BlouIn ArtInfo

And make sure you check out the Craft interview with Kirsten here.

Kirsten Haydon ‘Ice storeroom‘ is at Craft until 26th July 2014.
[Sorry sorry - it closes tomorrow - I've had some trouble getting to this one.]

See also: 10th June 2011 Kirsten Haydon ‘ice structure‘ @ Gallery Funkai





‘Fresh!’ @ Craft

17 05 2014

Fresh!‘ : the annual Craft showcase of selected graduate works returns.

This is the 2013 cohort, with the exhibition no longer at the end of the year but a few months later (no doubt to give the curator and students more time).

exhibition ; photograph with permission

exhibition ; photograph with permission

It was a delight to visit.

There is an assuredness in many of these pieces that bodes exceptionally well for their future as makers.

Kate Jones ; photograph with permission

Kate Jones ; photograph with permission

Exhibiting artists are:

  • Ruby Aitchison – gold & silversmithing
  • John Brooks – drawing
  • Grace Crawshaw-McLean [blog] – beautifully delicate and ephemeral weaving (so subtle I almost missed them)
  • Saskia Doherty [website]
  • Annie Gobel [website] – gold & silversmithing; bold neckpieces
  • Marcos Guzman [Kit & Caboodle profile] – gold & silversmithing (photograph below)
  • Kate Jones [tumblr] – ceramics; stunning large-scale objects (photograph above); my favourite group of the whole show
  • Tracey Lamb – visual art
  • Alexander Maklary [website] – ceramics
  • Louise Meuwissen [blog] – painting
  • Elise Sheehan [tumblr] – gold & silversmithing; close-running second favourite (photograph below)
  • Kate Wischusen [website] – gold & silversmithing; I’ve loved Kate’s work before, especially her ‘Montparnasse‘ enamel brooches
Elise Sheehan; photograph taken with permission

Elise Sheehan; photograph taken with permission

Marcos Guzman; photograph taken with permission

Marcos Guzman Ruby Aitchison; photograph taken with permission

Fresh!‘ is at Craft until 1st June 2014.

‘Fresh! 2012′ : oh, I must have missed this exhibition

Fresh! 2011

Fresh! 2010‘ :

Fresh! 2009‘ :

Updated (18th May): the ladies at HML love this exhibition too, and I especially want to quote their statement that “Fresh remains and important exhibition that acts as both celebration and forecast” (hallelujah!).





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





‘Gold and the Incas’ @ National Gallery of Australia

22 01 2014

There are two amazing exhibitions on in Canberra right now; and this dear heart believed such magnificence warranted a personal appearance. And so off to our nation’s capital I traipsed for a day of art-fatigue-and-visual-overload.

First: ‘Gold and the Incas‘ at the National Gallery of Australia (NGA).

Exhibition media: “Gold and the Incas showcases the splendour of ancient pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru. Art made of gold, silver, precious stones, textiles and ceramics will excite our visitors and provide a new experience at the National Gallery of Australia. More than 200 objects are included, from gold regalia, intricate jewellery and striking vessels to elaborate embroidered and woven cloths. Australian audiences will encounter the aesthetic depth, drama and beauty of the famous Incan empire and its predecessors.

The most important comment I’ll make to potential visitors – it’s not all about gold. There is a rich collection of ceramics and the most exceptional textiles in this exhibition; and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of items. So if gold isn’t your thing, perhaps it’s still worth a visit.

Best overheard comment: “they sure did like nose rings”. Yes, yes they did. Below are some sketches of some of my favourite nose ornaments [left, top right, bottom right].

nose ornament 1inca_003

One of the pieces that made me giggle was a Nazca forehead ornament: with an central impressed design of a face (serious, straight mouth), with little heads floating above his head, and little serious faces in the eleven ‘rays’ from the top of the object … a forehead object, with a man who looks like he also has a forehead object on, with little men with foreheads … ha, iteration hilarity, oh the fun I had in that little moment.

Along with nose-rings and being quite obvious about the sexy-time (I was terribly disappointed to realise that I had missed seeing the splendid cock vessel in person … boo), they also liked huge headpieces. The last room in the exhibition is worth the visit alone. The sketch below only gives the barest of ideas – but it is splendor you cannot imagine, on a scale that is formidable, in a display that is stunning. Earrings the size of your forearm? Oh for sure!

inca_004

The most breathtaking object is the Sican-Lambayeque mantle – it is lit in such a beguiling and entrancing manner, and the unevenness of each of the individual little ravioli-shaped silver components (sewn on to cotton I think) plays beautifully in the light.

The most surprising to me were the textiles – stunning.

Finally, the objects I found most moving were the Quipu. Strange really, considering their use was actually for trade; but when I first saw them I thought they may be maps or objects for personal memories.

My most significant, though minor in perspective, gripe is the darkness of the rooms … truly, many times I couldn’t see where my pencil was on my paper (explaining my less-than-fine drawings). I do understand that this is often necessary for conservation, especially for the feathers and textile pieces; and on the upside, it did make the gold stand out (perhaps the most pertinent reasoning for the low voltage?); but it was disorienting and tiring and somewhat oppressive.

I must admit that my most recent visits to the NGA have been enjoyable, to the extent that I would say (now the value of timed entry ticketing is well understood) that I like how the NGA does blockbusters – specifically, (so far) avoiding traps of ‘ambiance’ manufacturing, ‘real life dioramas’ and ‘virtual experiences’ and such banality some exhibitions fall for.

Gold and the Incas‘ is at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, until 21st April 2014.

See my other posts about exhibitions at NGA here.
Please note: sketches in this post not to be reproduced without author’s permission.

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Update (28th January): It’s been on my mind since my visit … the low lighting that is.

To give you a gauge of how odd it was: the round nose ornament in bottom right of the top image is actually half silver and half gold, and the lighting was such I couldn’t even tell they were different. It should have been obvious right?! And in the same case, the nose ornament on the left in the sketches has two twisted wires between the plate and the spiral components, but the lighting was so poor I couldn’t tell what was going on there, just that it wasn’t flat and not round – I just couldn’t see the detail. The room was dark but the display boxes so lit that the contrast was washed out.

And from memory the lighting was in fact brighter in the places where the ceramics and textiles were displayed – so may I be so bold as to suggest that the low lighting in the gold displays was for dramatic effect only? I mean honestly, gold or silver is not going to fade or be damaged by a little more helpful lighting; certainly no more so than feathers and textiles.

Yes, I’m unreasonably annoyed by the lighting … but the exhibition is still worth a visit.

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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.

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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

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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.

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