David Neale and Emma Price @ Gallery Funaki

30 08 2010

I have had a crush on David Neale‘s pieces for some time now, so I was excited about seeing his work at Gallery Funaki. He is paired with Emma Price, whose exhibition at RMIT First Site in 2005 was the topic of my very first critical writing assignment. So my expectations were high, and happily this show was certainly a pleasure to visit.

exhibition media; click on image to go through to the original source (Gallery Funaki site)

Exhibition text states about David’ work:
There is a bold sense of the painterly in these works, as Neale’s powdery, textured colours become a dominant focus“;
and about Emma’s:
Her finely balanced structures are constructed from painstakingly drawn down tubing in gold, brass, silver and copper. The shifting, architectonic forms of her neckpieces seem to dance against the body.

photograph courtesy of Katie at Gallery Funaki

I am particularly attracted to the colouring in David’s collection – the powdery finish evokes a sense of nostalgia in my mind; some of the pastel colours remind me of my childhood (strangely, of my nana’s and grandma’s kitchen things) and even of school uniforms (the blues against greys, like in the one below).

Because the softer colours are such a connection for me, the little spots of very strong bright colours on a few of the pieces didn’t quite work for me; though for many I know that balance of soft and bold is the attractive part – I like different perspectives like that.

photograph taken with gallery permission

I spent a most enjoyable time reading back through David’s blog to find any related to these lovely objects – this is one of the things I love about blogs, that they can show a path through time:

  • 25th August 2010: showing the gem dust he has used in some of the colouring
  • 6th August 2010: a sneak peek at the exhibition; with some lovely detailed images of the work
  • 2nd August 2010: more information about the work in the Funaki exhibition – David points out that some of the paint is actually crushed marble or turquoise and lapis lazuli – amazingly beautiful idea!
  • though there isn’t anything specific on the blog, David took pieces from this group to Metalab for ‘Some and None‘ solo-exhibition [link] (3rd June – 1st July); their blog has some great images and an interview [here, here and here]
  • 9th April 2010: lots of photographs of pieces in the Metalab / Gallery Funaki / Jam Factory exhibition
  • 14th March 2010: photographs of pieces that David actually took to the first exhibition of this group of work, at Jam Factory Adelaide (‘Some and None‘ [link] 10th April – 16th May); I particularly liked these pieces, and I expect as they weren’t in the Funaki exhibition they found new homes in Adelaide
  • 7th January 2010: similar pieces for Itami, Japan – I like the second one (in detail)
  • 17th June 2009: a story with some pieces that look like ancestors of the current group?
  • 17th February 2009: another piece that may be an ancestor too?
  • 16th February 2009: a ten-year-old piece that speaks to me of the enduring attraction of this type of work for David
  • 1st February 2009: the first post on David’s blog, with a little painting that for me links directly into this group

Further, David’s website has a page with photographs of all the pieces from this group – my little camera just doesn’t give his work enough credit, so please do check them out.

photograph taken with gallery permission

There seems to be a great freedom and joy in the making of these pieces, which is something I admire. Though I wonder if it’s planned or a genuine reflection of David’s work practice – that is, they may be truly spontaneous or skillfully conceived to seem so. It is certainly not at all a criticism, and it really doesn’t matter either way at all, but I seem to like wondering such things and toying with the idea that my interpretation may not be reality at all!

I particularly liked the one in the centre above, among others – but (happily for David) many pieces were sold. As much as I love these little expressions, I worry whether the colours may erode over time with handling (fingerprints are the enemy of many a metal finish!)?

photograph courtesy of Katie at Gallery Funaki

While at the gallery I perused the draws and spotted a little pair of his Aster earrings (see here and here) – so incredibly beautiful, gold sheet worked in the way gold should be worked … in his hands the metal retains its incredible rich colouring, and an ancient-ness, like it could have been found in an archeological dig. I haven’t worn earrings for well over a decade, but if any earrings will bring me back to the earring-wearing-fold, these just may be responsible.

The pairing with Emma Price’s work is surprisingly sympathetic, with the graphic nature of both collections creating a connection. While the solid, soft-edged organic shapes of David’s work are contrasted with Emma’s linear empty forms, for me it really works.

photograph taken with gallery permission

The mixed metals of the fine square-profile tubes gives a life to the constructions, which wouldn’t be as animated if the same metal were used throughout – I like this.

I’m not sure why, but something about them reminded me of the late 1970s or early 80s perhaps, though I cannot put my finger on why … perhaps the graphic nature, square-edged-ness, perhaps the gold/bronze colouring combined with the shapes … did anyone see the same and can help me identify why?

Some neckpieces were on silk, some on linen thread and some on fine chain – the chain linked in with the era evocation more for me than the thread did.

image courtesy of Katie at Gallery Funaki

The above piece was my favourite in the group.

It’s a quiet collection, one that rewards playing with the pieces, for they move quite beautifully (I never touch the pieces without permission mind!).

This is a wonderful exhibition. Both David and Emma’s works are fabulous in their own right, but something more is brought out in each of them when they are shown together.

Update: I wrote the above review before seeing Marcus’s review (ArtBlart) here; with some more images of the work. Also, Part B jewellery discussion group, organised by Melissa Cameron, will be meeting at Gallery Funaki this Saturday at 2pm to visit the show and retire somewhere nearby for coffee and discussion.

David Neale and Emma Price are showing at Gallery Funaki until 4th September 2010.

Update (30th August): please do click to see the great comment David has added, especially with respect to the painted surfaces – I should have known better than to be a little worried (especially given I make with paper, which has even more chance of not weathering a wearing well) … with time, and evidence of wearing, a piece does often become more beautiful; which reminds me of one of my favourite posts of David’s, about a gold painted brooch by Robert Smit



3 responses

30 08 2010
david neale

Thanks for the attention (gulp)!
In response to some of your ponderings;
yes the colouring of Emma’s pieces also reminded me of that period;
for me, the ‘golden age’ of contemporary jewellery, hinting at the spotted goldness of Jünger, the the brave simplicity of Babetto.

Marcus Art Blart’s review also raised the issue of paint and robustness…
I think these are genuine concerns, and I’ll try to address them.( it would have been nice if he’d just asked me- ive been doing this for 12 years and have plenty of feedback by now)


All jewellery, regardless of material, is wearing out.
Treat it well, and it will last longer.

Ages ago, Otto Kunzli asked me this; “what happens when the paint comes off?”
I said ” err… hopefully it looks okay”
( I should have said “what happens when YOUR paint comes off?”)

What do we do if the paint comes off our car, bike, house, lips, jeans?
each case is different, sometimes a little weathering looks amazing, sometimes re-painting is required.

I try to make lasting painted surfaces; by using tough enamel paints, on clean, keyed surfaces. Care is required: I do sometimes get clients sending me pieces for repainting, typically earrings that get sprayed with perfume ( ie solvent) every day! I know because they smell great. (my point; put your earrings on last / I offer re-painting when necessary- usually at no cost)

Some wisdom: Everything You Love Needs Care and Maintenance…

To anybody who wears my jewellery: I want you to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible; be assured that I care about this, get in touch if you ever need any extra attention (of the jewellery kind) 🙂

Thanks Karen!

30 08 2010

Thank you for such a great comment David!

I wonder if the question of possible paint wear only arises because the brush-strokes are visible and the texture is quite strong in your pieces (in a good way of course), especially the lovely gem dust colours; and so the material is perhaps perceived as more fragile(?); or at the very least, more noticed and considered and questioned, than a smooth-even-painted surface would be (which may not even enter consciousness?).

I agree whole-heartedly with you – care is paramount (perfume is the enemy). Also, being able to contact the artist to assist in repairs where needed is a significant advantage of buying work from local artists (accidents can unfortunately happen).

Congratulations on a great show – you must be exhausted after three in such close succession!

30 10 2013
NGV acquires David Neale brooch | Melbourne Jeweller

[…] I thought that perhaps this was from his exhibition at Gallery Funaki (my review post here); it certainly looks to be one of the pieces in the preceding exhibition at Jam Factory (see […]

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