Claire McArdle ‘Tokens of Place’ @ Guildford Lane Gallery

24 08 2010

Thank goodness Guildford Lane Gallery is open on Sundays, otherwise it would be more likely I’d miss out on some exhibitions … there never seems enough time to visit all shows I want to see (for example, I am very unhappy I missed out on Open Studios at Nicholas Building – damn work!).

installation view; photograph taken and used with artist permission

Claire McArdle’s show at Guildford Lane Gallery is ‘Token of Place – which she spoke about in the rapid fire papers at the RMIT seminar a few weeks ago. The show was on the ground floor when I visited (above), where it looked a little lost among darker music space (the gallery hosts jazz groups on Fridays I understand), though Claire tells me that it will be moved to the second floor for the next fortnight.

installation view; photograph taken and used with artist permission

This is an interesting body of work, where each piece is made with collected and crushed rock/dirt and is titled with the location and time the materials were collected. I really responded to the idea of tracing a journey.

Claire writes in her artist statement:
The pieces could be from a street you walk down every day.
Each piece holds a memory of a place, to be carried with the wearer on their personal journey.
All the pieces are blackened silver with the variation in colour and texture of the rocks presenting a palette of the urban and rural environments the artist traverses.
These collected works are a history of place for the maker. A journey traced in jewellery.
They are a memento of a moment.
A token of a place.


The pieces are very well presented against (and incredibly discretely and well attached to) boards that look like rendered concrete – a perfect background for the pieces derived from an urban environment.

I particularly liked:

  • a little pin with dark green material called ‘Cedar Avenue, 4.14pm‘;
  • the resolution to the earring construction on ‘Brunswick Street, 12.42pm‘ is wonderful;
  • and the hinged earrings ‘Heatherdale Road, 12.18pm‘ were well-made, unexpectedly and delightfully sparkly.

Drybough Street, 7.12pm ; image courtesy of artist; copyright belongs to the artist

The above image was one Claire sent to me – I like that it’s placed against the concrete and not in a typical ‘white-space’.

The pieces as a group tell a story and have a shared vision/intent, and as such the show has great cohesion – contributed to no doubt by the palette of found rocks but also due to the choice to only use blackened sterling silver.

I wondered if the design of each was influenced by or referenced the place the materials were found, or something that was in her mind when she found them…

Claire McArdle’s ‘Tokens of Place‘ is at Guildford Lane Gallery until 29th August 2010.



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