Events: April 2009

30 03 2009

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‘The Fox and the Crow’ @ Guildford Lane Gallery

27 03 2009

I visited Guildford Gallery in the last few days of this exhibition and found it incredibly beautiful. The exhibition media describes it as ‘a group installation exploring the fusion of jewellery and garment design‘.

The dark room was populated with four garment / jewellery hybrids, eerily suspended in the darkness and illuminated by LEDs from within. The textiles are by Nicole Collins, and the metalwork by Amina McPhee and Rhiannon Smith (Amina will be at Craft Vic’s Hatch in April).

Above the ghostly objects was a two-screen projection of a visual interpretation of the fable by Dimitri Kalagas, Chris Cork, Michael Watson and James Harmsworth – one screen for each protagonist.  The film was silent, almost black and white from memory, and each screen communicated with the other with sometimes outrageous text bubbles. Both the fox and crow masks were especially made for, and displayed alongside, the installation.

Given the ephemeral lighting, it was difficult to take a photograph that captured the mood well. I’ve tried with and without flash – each showing different aspects of the work. [All photographs taken with permission.]

fox_crow_1_small2 fox_crow_2_small1

The day I visited I met Stacy Jewell, the curator. Speaking with her, as someone so involved in the evolution of the work, meant I had a much more informed and deeper understanding than I would have had if I’d just wandered alone. That sort of interaction adds so much to the experience.

fox_crow_4_small2 fox_crow_3_small2

Some of Amina’s jewellery work was also on show in the gallery. One piece, the one on the far right, was made with cut-offs from one of the bodices in the main exhibition – it is my favourite piece.


A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. “That’s for me, as I am a Fox,” said Master Reynard, and he walked up to the foot of the tree. “Good-day, Mistress Crow,” he cried. “How well you are looking to-day: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you as the Queen of Birds.” The Crow lifted up her head and began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be snapped up by Master Fox. “That will do,” said he. “That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese I will give you a piece of advice for the future. “Do not trust flatterers.” [text from here ]

Julie Blyfield ‘Natural Selection’ @ Gallery Funaki

25 03 2009

Julie Blyfield is an established Adelaide-based contemporary jeweller and silversmith, known especially for referencing natural forms in her jewellery and vessels [for examples of her work see here and here and here and here]. She was an original member of the Gray Street Workshop and has had a book written about her work.

Her new exhibition at Gallery Funaki is called  ‘Natural Selection‘ and has been inspired by time spent in the deserts of South Australia. It is a departure from silver and other metals into using natural materials, informed by her study of the Aboriginal and Pacific artefact collections in storage at the South Australian Museum.

All of the images below were kindly provided by the staff at Gallery Funaki. The photographer is Grant Hancock.


image: Grant Hancock

The above photograph was the main one used in the exhibition media. The top brooch is the most beautiful piece in the show in my opinion, and I particularly like that it shows the metal-working that Julie is celebrated for. This brooch has also been reviewed here.

image: Grant Hancock

image: Grant Hancock

The above image shows some of the brooches from this exhibition.

While I was visiting Gallery Funaki another visitor asked the staff member about the work, and when informed that it was in response to some time spent in the desert he replied that ‘it has that feel about it’. The quandong nuts do have a wrinkled water-deprived appearance and the muted colours of some of the pieces look parched by the sun.

I have to admit though that my reading of the artist statement was that the materials were primary: however all of the natural materials here were painted, which seemed to me to distance them from their raw state. Perhaps the painting was inspired by the painting of the indigenous ornaments during the research stage, and that without knowing this  reference I cannot make that connection. The wood painted black initially deceived me, for they were so perfectly smooth that I actually thought it was plastic until seeing them in context and reading the works list. I was also mistaken in first thinking that some of the smaller cut wood segments were metal tubes (chenier), for they seemed so straight and uniform.

The show included a collection of necklaces, a selection is shown below (images again by Grant Hancock).

natural-selection-008 natural-selection-007

In the most part the necklaces followed a traditional approach of threading items together – here quandong nuts and native wood segments. It may be due to my own ignorance, but the connection between the raw materials and the cotton tape used in a number of the works was unclear to me – perhaps the tape best emulated an indigenous material, perhaps it could be argued that it doesn’t matter and there doesn’t always need to be a connection…

As you can see in the images, there were lots of quandong nuts; after seeing them all employed whole I was desperate to see what they would look like split in half or partially degraded as though by the fire or heat.

In the end, these thoughts are nothing more than my personal opinion: a view seen through my own eyes and an experience coloured by my unique world-filter. The work stands regardless of my opinion of it; the artist always deserves respect, acknowledgment and admiration. None of what I write is intended as a personal criticism, though I do recognise that as artists we hold our work close to our hearts and can feel wounded when it is not heard as we hear it. My intention is not to criticise but to explore and describe my own view.

Go and see the exhibition for yourself; experience your own feelings about it; it is worth seeing.

Natural Selection‘ is at Gallery Funaki until 4th April 2009.

‘Wondernamel’ @ RMIT First Site Gallery

23 03 2009

Wondernamel is an invented word to echo the wonder of enamel. This exhibition presents a selection of jewellery and objects from artists at RMIT Gold and Silversmithing working with enamel and it reflects the colour and intensity of the practice of enamelling.

I was not permitted to take photographs this time; the below image is from the RMIT First Site website.

image from exhibition media; Marcos Guzman

image from exhibition media; Marcos Guzman

I was impressed with the diversity and innovative settings of some of the pieces, especially given this is the work of artists still in their early development. The above brooches by Marcos Guzman are very well resolved, with settings inlaid into acrylic; bringing some modernity to a long-lived medium.

Other work worth particular mention include:

  • Cath Da Costa, ‘Interstellar Souvenir’ and ‘Elsewhere’ series: the use of emery paper is striking, and again the settings are well resolved;
  • Courtney Jackson, ‘Extinct’ series: there seems to me a reference to Julia de Ville in the colouring and subject matter, and I liked the use of a traditionally ‘pretty’ artform to portray skeletons;
  • Roxanne Watts, ‘Flight’ and ‘Crow’: the setting in Bakelite is innovative and appealing;
  • Colly Lu, ‘Untitled’ series: the enamelling is beautiful, painterly and evocative, with the cloisonne evoking soft movement.

Other artists participating: Corin Adams, Evelyn Liong, Bin Dixon-Ward, Naoko Inuzuka, Suzi Kyriakidis, Victoria Mathews, Allona Goren, Claire McCardle, Alysha Batliwalla, Sarah Fletcher, Inari Kiuru.

The presentation, with each individual shelf’s work identified by a handwritten paper label, is reminiscent of a ‘wunderkammer‘ – a connection that is not coincidental, as described here in a writing about the first show in this series in 2007.

The exhibition is on until 28th March 2009.