Past exhibition: ‘Ad Astra per Aspera’

29 07 2009

When I moved to Melbourne (to study goldsmithing) the first exhibition I visited was the 2003 RMIT Gold & Silversmithing Graduate exhibition ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘, which translates to ‘to the stars with difficulty’, at the Melbourne Gold Treasury Museum.

This was a key moment for me – I wandered around the exhibits and felt like I was in the right place; that this was something I not only wanted to do, but felt I was able to do, and it made sense to me and almost felt like home.

catalogue cover; catalogue designer: Lachlan Conn

catalogue cover; catalogue designer: Lachlan Conn

There were two works here that I connected to immediately and still remember their impact quite vividly:

  • Sarena Mazzeo ‘neckpieces‘ – the two necklaces were made of crocheted components with a back-clasp out of satisfyingly substantial sheet metal cut in the same pattern as the crocheted pieces; I remember having an ‘ah-ha’ moment seeing these, that jewellery didn’t need to be all about metal and could incorporate not just the traditional crafts I had learnt as a child but the traditional materials too
  • Melanie Katsalidis ‘shelf to life‘ – a delicate sculpture of a tree from MDF; the catalogue shows a detail image and not the whole piece, so the scale and details have become fuzzy with time; but it was the acceptance of this artistic expression within the confines of the degree I wanted to do was a sign to me that the way this discipline was taught here was going to give me enough breadth to explore both materials and scale

The 2003 graduate year included some makers who have since become pretty well-known (in alphabetical order):

Looking back through the catalogue (which it can truly be called, as this was before the accompanying publication became a ‘book’ which included essays), the skill-level of these makers still impresses me. It’s a delight to be reminded of the beauty of the work.



3 responses

6 08 2009
David Neale

a little behind the scenes trivia;
Lachlan’s cover was heavily criticised by staff as being “gothic schmultz that should have no place in g&s”
we all scratched our heads…wha?? Cant it be whatever we say?
I have about 10 copies propping up a wonky table, if anyone wants one
( and some from the 06 Rigg too)
– ill see you over at the Golden Smith…

6 08 2009

Hi David
What a great quote!
From your memory of the time, was the cover/book generally well received outside the staff and student groups?
I quite like it. Long live “gothic schmultz” and making one’s catalogue cover whatever you want.

14 10 2014
Most important exhibition | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] but the first that came to mind was: ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘ in 2003. I wrote the below a few years ago and I’m not sure I can put it any […]

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