Makers Mark is closing

30 07 2010

Only a quick update tonight…

A friend, who is on the Makers Mark Gallery mailing list, sent me the below this afternoon:

information from Makers Mark newsletter; used under the fair dealings provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 / c1975

It’s official then, Makers Mark is closing their doors on 14th August 2010.

I would expect that the larger discounts are not applying to artist works being sold on commission, as that would reduce their potential return; so perhaps the higher discounts are for the in-house pieces.

Also see the previous stories (first and second) and the comments left –  it seems store credit, gift vouchers and special orders are not being honoured; and that holders may simply be like any other creditors of the failed business.

I’d welcome comments about experiences and opinions of makers and buyers affected by this closure.

Calendar: August 2010

30 07 2010

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RMIT Year 1, Semester 1, Silversmithing #1

28 07 2010

It’s been a while since I last wrote about my RMIT projects… so, still looking at my first semester there, now on to silversmithing…

First year, first semester, Silversmithing, project #1: ‘Flatware’

This project was used to explore forging, and we were to produce two pieces of flatware (from the spoon or fork family). During the research into the history of flatware, I fell for Roman spoons and still think they’re lovely; those from the Mildenhall Treasure were favourites.

from visual diary of the time

Then, reading my visual diary, it seems I got carried away with the golden mean – the traditional proportion favoured by the Greeks. Not sure about the connection to the Roman spoon though – perhaps I was trying to understand why I was attracted to the shape? Anyway, in playing around with the golden mean mathematics, I drew the first spoon I ended up making from copper (it’s just over 7cm high).

from visual diary of the time; amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission

copper spoon; original image by Mark Kral; amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission

This started as a copper billet that had to be hammered (forged) and basically wacked into shape; there was no soldering involved, but there was certainly lots of filing.

The second spoon was a partner to the one above, but with a rounder form; and it is smaller, as it was made from sterling silver (from an ingot we cast ourselves from silver granules). Sterling silver is harder to work than copper, so I was happy that I’d decided to do the ‘simpler’ one in silver.

silver spoon; original image by Mark Kral; amended copyright notice: not to be reproduced without permission

I gave this spoon to my god-daughter on her christening in early 2006 … I’d like to think my brother understood how hard it was to give away something that took so much effort to make, but she’s pretty special and I hope she grows to treasure it.

… previous post in this series: RMIT Year 1, Semester 1, Enamelling #4

RMIT seminar: Jewellery Practice as a Site for Enquiry

26 07 2010

Next Friday, 6th August, will see an all-day (9am – 4pm) seminar at RMIT: Jewellery Practice as a Site for Enquiry.

Media: “This seminar is designed to be an opportunity to examine how the parameters of contemporary jewellery practice are being tested, developed, challenged and/or contested by those makers researching or practicing in the field. Organisers are interested in reflecting the breadth of models for framing practice and opening the dialogue around recent concerns in relation to sustainability, relational or interactivity and the need to diversify practice in the face of globalisation.

Speakers include:

Register by following this link.

Little bit of eye candy…

23 07 2010

I thought a post with a photograph would be a lovely welcome break after so many posts with only text.

My two little rosewood drawer units, under my treasured Sharon Green photograph ‘Cabin Fever‘ (from the ‘The Lonely Empire‘ 2005 series), is my favourite place for display of little objects I own (or have made). For a little while now it has been home to Katherine Wheeler‘s ‘stilt cup‘, which I still adore, and which I bought at her exhibition at Hand Held Gallery earlier this year.

my lovely little Katherine Wheeler stilt cup

Makers Mark update

21 07 2010

An update on the earlier post, word on the street includes:

  • Debt is apparently in the many millions of dollars (part of me hopes I’ve heard that wrong; so confirmation/correction would be appreciated)… Did I say voluntary administration was responsible and sensible? Perhaps responsible would have been seeking assistance/advice a bit earlier.
  • If the numbers are right, perhaps the optimism I had for them trading out of their financial trouble was unrealistic.
  • I understand quite a few makers are owed money (boo) and that the gallery has had a reputation for being notoriously difficult to extract payment from.
  • If makers are owed money, can anyone tell me what will happen if the gallery does close? I expect that makers are creditors, but are they first in line for monies? Are they likely to only receive a portion of what they’re owed (likely if the full amount of the debt cannot be recovered from liquidation proceedings I think)? Would that make it better for a maker to retrieve their pieces as early as possible – at least with the piece in their hand a maker can resell it at its full value, as opposed to perhaps only receiving a portion of its value if it’s sold in the gallery in the meantime? Are there restrictions for such actions though – I don’t know how the gallery-artist agreement is structured?
  • The picture being painted for me is one where business practices may have been the main issue; so my initial question around whether Melbourne had reached a kind of market saturation for jewellery and artisan objects is probably answered with a ‘no’. It looks more than likely Melbourne will be one gallery short in the near future … is this an opportunity for another gallery space to open? What could the future of the Melbourne gallery scene look like? I’ve been thinking that Makers Mark created/filled a space of artisan/hand-made, though perhaps slightly conservative, jewellery (when compared to Gallery Funaki say; as many of the pieces were mainly made from precious materials from my memory of my visits) …
  • I understand makers with work at the gallery were required to submit paperwork on their pieces to the administrators by last Friday, after getting notification last Tuesday … geez, less than four days notice, that’s really short notice even for the most organised person (though this is more an action of the administrator than the gallery).
  • The gallery twitter account linked to my last story, and a link to the twitter account is published on their website News page. I initially thought this was quite odd, but I’ve thought a little about this – I originally thought that it might have been best that the administration remain as unknown as possible among the general public; however perhaps the more people who know, the more foot-traffic the gallery may receive in the limited time they have before the next creditor meeting, and the more sales may be made, the more debt reduction, etc…
  • There has been more coverage (again tweeted by Makers Mark) here

Any comments or thoughts, especially from those makers affected, certainly welcome.

Jewellery at auction #6

20 07 2010

In international jewellery auction news, the latest Sotheby’s event was on Thursday 15th July. It was fascinating to see the sold prices pop up on their website within about an hour of the sale itself; as there were many lots, there were prices for the first half of the items even before the second half of the auction finished – Sotheby’s obviously understands many people like to watch the auction online and considers investing in uploading prices almost ‘live’ as worthwhile.

A couple of observations about the items and the prices they fetched:

  • I was a bit confused if the estimates included or excluded the buyers premium (the payment the buyer makes to the auction house – I think it may be in the order of 20%); as the sold price does include the premium, if the estimate doesn’t then listing them side-by-side is inconsistent.
  • shame that the collar named ‘Karen‘ is not really to my taste (lot #65)
  • ugliest jewellery piece award goes to lots #69 (necklace) and #72 (bracelet, earrings, lipstick case) … oh, they’re so awful!
  • a close runner-up was a claw-inspired neckpiece (lot #86); as is the diamond-fest (lot #159)
  • the price this pearl necklace fetched was so far above the estimate (£50k vs estimate of up to £15k) someone must have really wanted it (lot #142)
  • a more astonishing example of someone really wanting a piece is the price paid for a pair of admittedly beautiful coral and onyx art-deco earrings (lot #143) but were they really worth over £73k (where they were estimated up to £5k)?
  • there was only one piece that looked vaguely ‘contemporary’ as opposed to simply being a gem-status-fest: a 1975 brooch by Andrew Grima (lot #247)
  • lastly, there were some lovely art noveau styled pieces that also sold for beyond their estimates: lot #223, #224

Upcoming Melbourne / Australian jewellery auctions are:

  • Leonard Joel: 30th August (here) and 25th October 2010 (here) – catalogues not yet available
  • Sotheby’s: Sydney 13th September (here) and 25th October 2010 (here) – catalogues not yet available … interesting that these two houses have an auction on the same date in October!
  • and most importantly …. RMIT G&S Auction is on 11th August 2010 (blog here)