Anna Davern ‘Impressa’ @ e.g.etal

19 05 2015

Quick sticks! Get along to e.g.etal before the end of this weekend to see Anna Davern‘s ‘Impressa‘.

Anna is an unashamed lover of all things kitsch, especially Australiana – and what’s not to love about that.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Using printed steel Anna has created brooches from images of Ned Kelly, Queen Elizabeth II (who she insists on naming Liz, much to my delight) and Queen Elizabeth I. All images have been cut into strips or squares, and those elements are then rearranged.

…Sometimes the strips are attached separated, sometimes the altered image is printed as a single image on the metal.

…Sometimes the photographic/steel layer is fastened to the blackened brooch back by delicate folded prongs, sometimes by rivets (I love rivets; I may have mentioned that before).

…Sometimes the rivets are blackened, sometimes they’re gold *swoon*.

exhibition media; click on image for original source

exhibition media; click on image for original source

The oval and round brooches mimic miniature paintings … which were once a personal and highly precious keepsake portrait of a loved one. Does that mean we are to love these people? Even though they’re so distorted?

…Or is this commenting on the fact that if we think we love and adore someone so far from our real life, then we simply must be worshiping an inevitably distorted image of them?

…Then again, perhaps Anna is just experimenting, enjoying the process and having fun.

…They look like the pictures on those funny little screen toys we used to have as kids (in the, ahem, 70s) on which the picture looks different from one angle than the other (I cannot remember what they were called); and the same optical device was recently used for a Tram advert about inspectors (Melbourne reference; one must be pleased with that).

I wondered about why these particular three people were chosen. Ned and Elizabeth II I can understand from the perspective of the sculpting of the Australian identity; Elizabeth I is not quite the same.. so I’m curious …perhaps because of her direct connection to Liz? Perhaps I’m being daft and missing an obvious connection … you will tell me won’t you, if I am?

Make sure you visit the e.g.etal page for the exhibition for more detailed photographs of some of the pieces. Especially ‘Liz Slice 3‘; look at the back of it, look at the back of it!

Exhibition media (too good not to reproduce here whole):
Davern’s work features pictures of people from Australian political and social life as a means to dissect clichéd images of Australian identity.Using images found on old biscuit tins or historical photos printed on to metal, Davern slices, rearranges and reconstructs these pictures to create works that trick the eye with their disconcerting familiarity.

By reworking these cult-like symbols their power over us becomes fluid and slippery. As objects of adornment seen through the lens of the Impressa, they offer a reflection on our cultural roots, which lie in the colonisation of Australia by the British.

Unafraid to move freely between lo-fi kitsch and the precious object, Anna continues to develop a visual language with the power to question our loyalties to conservatism. Her humorous renditions of cultural identification allay our fears of deeper, more critical discussions about political and social life, and to this end the brooches laugh at romantic notions of allegiance and turn them upside down.

Anna Davern ‘Impressa‘ is at e.g.etal until 23rd May 2015.

ps. I had a look for the exhibition title in the dictionary and found a very similar word ‘impresa’ which means a device, or motto or emblem … what a great connection.

Update (less than an hour after initial publication) with a psquillion thanks to Anna, I have attached the accompanying essay written by Ramona Barry of HandMadeLife fame … Impressa_RamonaBarry_Essay. I will give this my undivided attention forthwith

See also:

Experiment 7

18 05 2015

Study 007, Silver

Oh this is my favourite experiment to date, by far.

Every silver-ish tinted paper I have in my collection has been included. No particular ordering has been chosen, in fact it was woven in the order I found them in my papers folder (yes, I have a folder; I’m an organisational fiend, I’m sure I’ve told you).

Study 007

Study 007

I love how the raking light brings out the different tints – separately, each paper doesn’t look so terribly different from the others, but at different angles and when next to each other the tones are amazingly different.

[images in this post not to be reproduced without explicit author permission]

Experiment 6

17 05 2015

Still not bored yet…

Study 006 Stitched Blue′
I had a dream (seriously this was borne of a dream) in which I stitched the woven paper.
I had thought to do it on the previous study, but couldn’t bring myself to do it as I thought it was so pretty in its simplicity. Further though, I thought that perhaps the 1.5mm papers are too thin to stitch through (though since then found that’s not so).
I’ve used plain everyday printing paper, in 2mm strips.

study 006

study 006

study 006

study 006

I think there’s more to explore here.

[images in this post not to be reproduced without explicit author permission]

RMIT Art Collection Online

15 05 2015

Good news: RMIT have digitally recorded most* items in the RMIT Art Collection and made them available via RMIT Art Collection Online.

Launch media: “RMIT’s art collection has come out of the shadows, offices and walls around the university to reveal more than 1000 artworks in a searchable data base for students and researchers to explore.
The RMIT art collection online is a significant resource, facilitating wide general access to university’s dispersed art collection. It provides an immersive experience combining both technology and education – and allows everyone, everywhere with access to technology to explore the treasures held – including fine art, photography, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, new media and a ground-breaking sonic arts collection.

The ‘About’ section of the Online site states: “The collection comprises more than 1500 works of art in a wide array of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, prints and drawings, gold and silversmithing, and works in new media. Many of the works are on display throughout RMIT’s campuses, and form an important component in exhibitions at RMIT Gallery. Works from the collection are also regularly loaned for exhibition to other institutions, both within Australia and internationally.


Not-so-good news: so to my main interest, the gold and silversmithing collection under the auspices of the W.E. McMillan collection.

No, none of the items have been included in this online repository. Hence my most* statement above.

So while the RMIT collection does in fact include gold and silversmithing, they’re not (yet?) actually included in this excellent online resource (nor are they on display anywhere as far as I know).

I’ve written a number of times before about my desire for more student and public access to the W.E. McMillan collection:

To that end, late last year I wrote to the RMIT Gallery and expressed my interest in volunteering my time to specifically support work on this collection. I received an encouraging reply: “Plans are indeed underway to improve access to the McMillan Collection, both online and via permanent display. However, progress is slow …” “I’ll be very happy to keep you up to date on future projects and volunteering opportunities

I thought this was pretty exciting … however I’ve heard nothing since. I was offering them free time, along with some experience and knowledge with handling such items.
I could help make progress not-so-slow, right?!