Jewellery Practice as a Site for Enquiry #3

18 08 2010

Third in the posts on last Friday’s RMIT Seminar ‘Jewellery Practice as a Site for Enquiry‘ (see #1 and #2) – the Rapid Fire Paper: eight papers in about half an hour … some were five minutes long, some shorter, all interesting.

6. Kathryn Wardill: spoke of her new body of work, which I think is titled ‘Seven Sites, Seven Necklaces‘; in a reference to the Grand Tour (the European jaunt every self-respecting wealthy young english gentleman took in the Victorian era), Kathryn has made pieces in reference to seven places in Melbourne; I think the three images on her site (which is currently being redesigned, so may look different in the coming weeks and month) are from this group; at the time of the seminar, this work was also in the window of Studio Ingot.


7. Helen Dilkes: spoke of her research into the sensation of duration and time (influenced by her previous experience in orchestras); I very much like her ‘cone studies‘, particularly the heat-coloured ones, and remember noting her work at last year’s ‘Its Got Legs’ exhibition (my review here).


8. Christopher Earl Milbourne: this was brief but really interesting; Chris has given me permission to reproduce some of his text here; for me, the most important and interesting statements he made were:

  • if you can stick your finger into an object, does that make it a ring? Failing that, would attaching a brooch pin to the back render it jewellery?
  • does hollowware stand a chance against contemporary jewellery as a art-form in Australia? And I did say art-form … if we consider sustainability in art practices as an issue then we should also ask if the art practice itself is capable of survival.

The first question, made about halfway through his presentation, stopped me in my tracks, and I felt a murmur of interest or perhaps recognition in the audience. I often think that, sometimes out of habit, we make pieces attach to the body even when they may be better to stand on their own, as small objects.


9. Nicole Polentas (artist profile; exhibition review): again brief but very interesting; while Nicole began by describing her own work and its response to and engagement with cultural places (specifically Crete and place-specific Cretan songs called mandinades), she ended with the most interesting point for me (Nicole also gave me permission to reproduce her text) in the question: “can the medium of contemporary jewellery carry this [her] concept effectively…?” … a question I often ask myself about any jewellery I make – the piece made often seems less substantial than all the thinking that went into it; I wonder if the viewer can see or understand the layers of meaning I have built into it, let alone incorporate and compare them to their own experiences? I wonder if many artists question whether their chosen art-form is the best medium for expressing their ideas…


Now, my sincere apologies to the last four speakers, as this was about the point I was really beginning to fade and it seems took little to no notes amid trying to stifle a chronic coughing fit, during which I had to run out of the auditorium to avoid disturbing others!

10. Mary Hackett: I like that Mary works with smithing more than jewellery (a bit of contrast is always welcome); I recall noticing her work at last year’s NMIT graduate show (my review here); I liked her statements that “objects hold memories ready to be evoked

11. Suse Scholem: with her work more conceptual, performative and recorded by photography more than a physical object, I found this a little more abstract than other speakers, though intriguing nonetheless; I did actually like her ‘constellations’ neckpieces (I hope that’s what they were called, that seems to be what I’ve scribbled down!), where she connected freckles or moles on a friends body with coloured pen to make a necklace of a kind.

12. Clare McArdle: spoke about the making of the work currently showing at Guildford Lane Gallery [link] and its site and time specificity; sadly I was feeling quite unwell at this point…

13. Melissa Cameron: I really wanted to hear Melissa speak, but I had a massive coughing fit just before she came on stage and had to run out of the room … sorry!

That’s all for the posts on the seminar. I hope there are more opportunities in the near future to hear jewellers and makers speak about their own work.

Update (22nd August): Melissa Cameron has written more about these speakers, and also about the afternoon speakers (which I missed) here. Also, Zoe Brand has also written about her impressions of the day here.



One response

18 08 2010

Hi Karen – really enjoying these seminar posts – and really want to see Claire McArdle’s show. Did you see the article on Yuko Fujita in today’s Age?

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