Marian Hosking ‘silver seams and small blocks’ @ Gallery Funaki

18 05 2009

Gallery Funaki is one of my favourite contemporary jewellery galleries in Melbourne. I especially love that the visitor is encouraged to handle the precious objects (with care of course!), and to spend time going through the drawers laden with jewellery delights.

Marian Hosking’s exhibition ‘silver seams and small blocks‘ is current showing at Gallery Funaki, until 30th May 2009.

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

There seems to me to be three distinct groups of work in this exhibition.

The first group, on the left side of the gallery, is a series of small works mainly presented in pairs. Brooches and rings, where the two pieces are essentially the same but for one being unembellished silver and the other piece having an element of enamelling to bring in some colour. The images used in these pieces are plants and birds. An example is below.

The exhibition media is particularly relevant to this group of work: “In these recent works, found souvenirs, toys and jewellery are appropriated and reiterated through a casting technique, whereby the repetition of a motif allows it to soften and shift, here, inflected by a sense of joy. The enamel ring series suggests the hand-coloured photographs of the early twentieth century, moments of colour adding warmth and indulgence to the mass-produced designs. These pieces of jewellery are playful: we smile at the remembered pleasures of a favourite keepsake or prized toy.

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

This green has been used in a number of pieces and unfortunately I reacted quite unfavourably to it! It’s a personal preference only, and I was actually a little surprised by my aversion. While I don’t normally like green, seeing green on jewellery seemed even stranger to me; especially as it was such a vibrant green and felt to me to be a little ‘hyper-real’ and I wouldn’t ordinarily associate with the nature-based imagery. Other than green, clear, pale bronze and blue enamel are also used; as well as introducing colour through oxidisation. A peacock ring uses the bright green and blue in a way that is a cross between art deco and the seventies – not entirely a bad thing, but not really my thing.

The second grouping is a set of bird brooches cut from mother of pearl, which I found a little cold and strangely flat and inanimate. That said though, I do like the extra detail on the back. Further, reading more of the exhibition text:  “The potential for the miniature to act as a ‘souvenir’ or paradigm for such ideas has led to it becoming the primary mode employed by Hosking” – made something click, as the use of mother of pearl does actually remind me of souvenirs brought back from New Zealand by a family friend when I was very little. And on further research, this material is one Marian has used before and has an established dialogue. Again, images are courtesy of Gallery Funaki.

courtesy of Gallery Funaki MarianHosking_cat31back_adj

The third grouping, on the right side of the gallery, are more detailed and to me more delicate and evocative of treasuring nature. Many of these pieces were beautiful; and I liked them even more after it was pointed out that the elements on many of the brooches (like the first image above, and the one below) are secured to their base in such a way that they shimmer with movement.

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

courtesy of Gallery Funaki

Finally, for those familiar with Marian’s larger-scale work, there is a vessel in this exhibition. Though I do think the brooches with movement are definitely the highlights.

Update: since writing this story, this exhibition has also been reviewed here.


I feel compelled to add a little ramble about my artistic preferences: historically (for one day it may change!) I have not been one to really like figurative art. I seem to shy away from art with representations of people or animals – so much so that someone I once knew accused me of being ‘taliban extremist’ in my artistic tastes. However, I do like art with elements of these living creatures when they have been abstracted or obscured. For example, a zoomed-in view of part of a peacock tail is more appealing than an image of the whole bird; a photograph of a part of a person, or a hint of a person somewhat obscured, is more interesting to me than a whole person. This may go some way to explaining my response to the whole-bird pieces in this exhibition. However, as I’ve said before, my experience of art is veiled by my own personal preferences; and even if a particular piece of art doesn’t match my preferences, it is no less worthy of respect or enjoyment. More on this another time perhaps…



One response

22 05 2009

I never thought the green on the works was out of place, but you are the second person that I have heard (or in this case read) in the last two days to say that the green is a sticking point in these works. I agree it’s a totally subjective thing, but having heard a few similar comments, it might be a common thought. I never thought of it as a literal device until you said ‘hyper-real’ and I got the connection – to me it wasn’t a green fern, it was silver with green enamel on it. Thanks for showing the back of the bird pin by the way, I never thought to pick it up to see the back, and I’m more impressed by that piece because of that detail. M

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