General Assembly

20 07 2009

As part of the State of Design Festival, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit the studio of Blanche Tilden and Phoebe Porter to learn more about their collaborative project ‘General Assembly‘.

The hour started with a well-prepared talk to slides, describing the conceptualisation and production of the work. I didn’t know a lot about this project beforehand, so I enjoyed hearing about the steps the artists went through and why they made certain decisions. The explanation of the different components in the Melbourne and Canberra series was especially interesting.

The fundamental idea was to create jewellery that the wearer could construct themselves, using pre-fabricated components. There are literally thousands of combinations, so each made is as unique as the person making it.

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

The above image shows the Melbourne series – with finished examples on the right. The components were drawn from the Melbourne city-scape, with the colours and shapes (particularly the mesh) being particular to our city. Blanche is an experienced glass-worker and the beads add motion, as they slide along the slots in the metal pieces.

photograph taken with artist permission

photograph taken with artist permission

The above image shows the Canberra components – finished pieces are in the top-left tray. I really liked how Blanche and Phoebe described why and how they changed their approach to this city, following the Melbourne series. The colours are beautiful and I was impressed to find that they anodised the metal themselves.

Blanche then showed us how she creates the small glass beads by lamp-work. This was fascinating! And for non-jewellers, Phoebe gave a quick demonstration of saw-piercing a prototype element – showing how labour-intensive this investigative stage can be. I think these kinds of demonstrations are valuable – for non-makers, it is sometimes not easy to understand the pricing of contemporary jewellery (if not made from ‘precious’ metals), so seeing first-hand how much work is involved is crucial for developing community understanding.

As a kind of aside, Blanche explained the choice of brooches as opposed to rings or bracelets – that alongside the appealing connections to name badges, signifiers, identifiers worn on the body, that brooches were the less gender-specific. This adds a little more to answering the question I had recently about the proliferation of brooches at ‘Schmuck 2009‘.

More detailed information on this project is available at their website: Studio Hacienda. Thanks to Blanche and Phoebe for generously sharing their time and process!

for thought…

19 07 2009

Of all daggy places to find inspiration … (mumbling quickly) a promo for a tv show. I only heard the last sentence but it led me to seek out the whole quote. Let’s ignore where I heard it initially, and appreciate the magic and force of the words:

I-I am going to be a storm-a flame-
I need to fight whole armies alone;
I have ten hearts; I have a hundred arms;
I feel too strong to war with mortals-

Cyrano de Bergerac [from here]

Alexander Knox ‘Maxims of Behaviour’

17 07 2009

ABC Sunday Arts: how did I do without it? The episode on 28th June 2009 had a segment on this light art; so when I happened to be in the area one night, I thought I’d actually stand still for a little while and pay attention.

The work ‘Maxims of Behaviour‘, by Alexander Knox, was commissioned by the Melbourne City Council. It was first installed last winter on the facade of The Royal Mail House (cnr Swanston and Bourke), and will be shown at night every winter until 2012.


The colours change and shift, and people-shaped shadows move across the building. I don’t have a deep profound pronouncement to make about the work – not because that level doesn’t exist here (I know they do, from the artist interview I saw), but because I found it enjoyable to just stand and look and enjoy without thinking too much about it. This art brings vibrancy and life to this street corner and old building, and I like it for that.

More information about this work, and more images, can be found here and here. There is also a fabulous image of the work here; and a blog post about the work last year.

‘Inside the Realm of Invisible Spheres’ @ C3

16 07 2009

While I was checking the next market dates at the Abbotsford Convent, I came across the listing for exhibitions at the C3 Gallery (blog). The titles and descriptions were intriguing, so I visited on one of my regular ‘Fitzroy-Fridays’ (I love Fitzroy, and as weekends are not ideal for me to go there, I like to spend some of my Fridays off doing the things I like there).

Inside the Realm of Invisible Spheres‘ is a collaboration between Debbie Symons and Jasmine Targett. I very much liked this show.

Exhibition media states: “These works explore the shifts of perception that occur when our awareness of reality through observation is deconstructed, exposing a rupture in the natural order. Spheres and bubbles with their infinite and sensitive boundaries mark out fragile positive and negative spaces.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Debbie created the two-dimensional pieces; the maps drawn on graph paper trace the outline of the arctic ice caps. They are shown in pairs, southern and northern, and at time intervals 1992, 1997, 2008/9 – showing the changing outline. I have a connection with maps that I’ve explored through my own art, so I relate to these drawings.

Jasmine has made the blown glass pieces – I liked the little ones so much that one came home with me.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Unfortunately, I visited this on one of its last days … so I didn’t get to publish this in time. ‘Inside the Realm of Invisible Spheres‘ was at C3 from 24th June to 12th July 2009.

Also, the duo has another show, ‘Losing the Unique‘ in September at Shifted Gallery. And I have just found that Jasmine is a member of the Brown Paper Collective (I’ve mentioned them before) – who will be at the ‘this is not a design market‘ this Sunday 19th.

Calendar: August 2009 sneak peek

15 07 2009

Click on below for detail … hidden so save loading time

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Jewellery at City Library

14 07 2009

On a recent wander into the City Library on Flinders Lane to visit the Craft Vic ‘Hatch‘ Market, the little display of jewellery next to the borrowing desk caught my eye.

The silver piece on the left is ‘Tribute to Leonard Cohen 2008‘ by Chloe Powell – I like the tear and wonder how she created it. The other pieces are ‘Spring Rings 2008‘ by Inari Kiuru (made of plastic clay and steel wire) – I like their whimsy and immediacy.


The little plaque at the bottom right is below, and promises more work in August – I look forward to it!


30000 Years of Art

13 07 2009

I recently received a wonderful gift of the beautiful book: ‘30000 Years of Art‘ [2007, Phiadon; ISBN 9780714847894]. It’s a massive tome, showing 1000 examples of art throughout the history of man – sculpture, painting, ceramic, metalwork, etc.

On my recent look through I found inspiration in many of the images, but especially the three below.

  • crouching figurine, Greece (Magoula Karamourlar, Magnesia, Mount Pelion);
    early neolithic, c.5000 BC; artist unknown; stone; 4cm H; Archaeological Museum, Volos; no picture credit is listed for this image [another image is here];
    it put me in mind of making a little talisman of my own, to spend a length of time crafting a little amulet to protect me

    'crouching figurine', p21

    p21 (image scanned from book)

  • ‘Cucuteni’ figurine, Romania;
    neolithic, Cucuteni culture, c.4300 BC; artist unknown; terracotta; 15cm H; National Museum of Romanian History, Bucharest; picture credit: Corbis/Gianni Dagli Orti [another image of this figurine is here];
    the contour lines on the back are sweetly evocative and I like an ample bottom; other examples I found (while searching online) had lovely round lines on the bottom;

    cucuteni figurine, p26

    p26 (image scanned from book)

  • cruciform figurine, Cyprus;
    Chalcolithic Period, c.3100 BC; artist unknown; picrolite; 5.5cm H; District Museum, Paphos; picture credit: Department of Antiquities of Cyprus;
    there’s something strikingly modern about the shape carved into the silvery stone; it could almost be by Picasso

    cruciform figurine, p43

    p43 (image scanned from book)

I’ve said before that I’m quite adverse to figurative art – even so, I am drawn to these sculptures because they are more abstractions, hints and representations of humanity, and not realistic depictions. Another part of the attraction for me is the obvious dedication required to bring them into creation, for it would have taken quite some time to carve the stone figures.

Another intruiging connection for me is to Warwick Freeman’s ‘handles‘ I saw recently at Gallery Funaki [here]. The majority of this post was actually drafted before I visited Warwick’s show (fellow bloggers will know that stories are sometimes published in a different order to which they are written!) – therefore to see his modern carved talismans so soon after being drawn to the above ancient objects felt like quite a strange coincidence. I see in Warwick’s work the same deliberation, attention to detail and care as I feel is in these above objects. It’s funny how some ideas start to bubble up in clusters … I wonder where it will lead …