Djurdjica Kesic ‘Nomad’ @ Pieces of Eight

2 10 2009

I prefer not to read too much about an exhibition before I visit it – it helps keep my initial reaction and connection independent of others’ ideas, including the artist’s. However, it is always important to me to know more about the intention of the work after I’ve spent some time looking at it myself. In this way, I essentially have two different experiences of a body of art.

Djurdjica Kesic‘s current exhibition ‘Nomad‘ is at Pieces of Eight. Exhibition media states that the artist: “delves into her ongoing interest in ideas about home, place and transportability of home in migration” and explores “these ideas through a series of necklaces made from an armful of preloved belongings.”

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

On first viewing, I must admit that I didn’t really connect with the thirteen necklaces on display. The colouring felt heavy and there is lots of wood and string, and I just wasn’t feeling it. That was my ‘first experience’ of the work.

My ‘second experience’ followed a conversation with Melanie, who told me more about the underlying intent of the collection. All pieces are made from the items clutched in the arms of the artist in the media image.

exhibition media; from Pieces of Eight blog

exhibition media; from Pieces of Eight blog

Especially touching was the braided white cotton necklace, which on first view I didn’t find too interesting; that view changed quite dramatically when it was explained to me that the threads were carefully pulled from a pillowcase that was Djurdjica’s grandmother’s and many hours were spent reworking it into the necklace. Devotion to the creation of art is especially attractive to me.

The artist is a migrant to Australia and I had first thought all of the pieces were brought by Djurdjica to Australia. This had cast a beautiful nostalgia and almost mournful light on the wooden components. Unfortunately this was my misunderstanding, as Djurdjica explains in the interview on the Pieces of Eight blog (which I read later), that only the pillowcase is hers and that the other pieces are pre-loved items collected especially for this body of necklaces.

Realising my misunderstanding was actually a little bit of a disappointment, but that’s more about what I had invested into the work that didn’t really belong there. However the idea of the transportation of treasured belongings to a new home is still resonating with me (I’ve experienced culling material possessions and selecting only the special items before moving to a new country).

All of the pieces are necklaces, and I’m curious about the choice of that vehicle in particular and why other jewellery forms were not used…

Djurdjica’s production work for Pieces of Eight [here] is different to the exhibition body; delicate and small gold and oxidised silver rings, some set with little gems … I liked them so much I tried some on, but they were a little dainty for my fingers. The pieces she contributed to the ‘My Pet Rock‘ exhibition at the gallery last year were rings set with pebbles; the diversity of materials in her practice is interesting.

Djurdjica Kesic’s ‘Nomad‘ is at Pieces of Eight until 10th October 2009. The artist will be at the gallery for a floor talk on Saturday 3rd October at 4pm.


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