Nicole Polentas ‘Reinventing a Sense of Place. Crete and the Jewellery Object’ @ RMIT School of Art Gallery

17 04 2015

Regular readers will know of my bold parochial support of the beautiful souls I studied my RMIT degree with … and it’s with immense pleasure I visited one of our number’s PhD exhibition today.

Nicole Polentas has studied with passion and intense commitment for just over ten years now, and it is beyond incredible to see selected pieces from over the years in one place: ‘Reinventing a Sense of Place. Crete and the Jewellery Object‘.

exhibition installation

exhibition installation

It was unexpected, but I confess I was a little emotional walking through the exhibition. I remembered the first time Nicole experimented with her now-signature text ribbons; there are only a few moments when you can say you were there to witness the start of something beautiful.

The pieces are without question extraordinary; the exhibition design gorgeous and perfect.

exhibition installation

exhibition installation

I completely adore the constructs that underpin the front-facing elements … clean lines and beautifully executed. And her exploration of more colouring in her work is promising and brings an extra dimension; I especially like the pinks and greens. The materials listing is interesting in that it includes ‘Greek coffee’ and I wondered where it was used, perhaps in the resin components?

exhibition installation

exhibition installation

The work is personal; the stories close to the surface; her sharing generous and genuine; her intent clear.

I must admit to perhaps being too close to Nicole and her work to give an objective reading of the exhibition [though in reality, I rarely give objective do I(!)]. I think that knowing the artist means I see more layers in the work than a new observer may (maybe) and am too connected to be able to offer anything other than superlatives.

exhibition installation

exhibition installation

I do hope that in time her exegesis will be available for public reading.

I offer Nicole my warmest heartfelt congratulations and look forward to seeing her continued explorations and shows!

Reinventing a Sense of Place. Crete and the Jewellery Object‘ was a one-night-and-day only (examination) exhibition.

Please also see:

Please click below to read more of the media release (from her Events page):

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Nicole Polentas ‘Collective Conundrum’ @ Chili Art Gallery (Athens)

18 07 2013

I am so excited for Nicole – she has a solo exhibition in Athens opening this week, curated by Christopher Earl Milbourne.

Collective Conundrum‘ is at Chili Art Gallery from 19th to 27th July 2013.

Press release:
The Collective Conundrum is an exhibition of jewellery objects examining meta-narratives of place and identity. Each object presents itself as an amalgam of analogous perspectives, posing in an amalgamation of convoluted realities.
The foundation of the objects are built upon the re-contextualisation of traditional folklore and popular music throughout Greek history. This becomes a transformation into material form, mediating a transmission of conventions. The script is systematically structured with cultural and historical representation, which in turn presents itself as a visual puzzle.
The Collective Conundrum investigates and re-defines notions of identity and cultural authenticity, through an array of subjective signifiers. It examines the ways in which we think about cultural images, by portraying them in a new way. Through a coalescing of media, mimicry, satire and image saturation, the objects evaluate and reconfigure stereotypes, dispensing a matrix of alternate perspectives. The Greek character, the archetype, the hero are studied and manipulated, presenting a conundrum of contrasts.
The jewellery becomes the mediator and interface between what is real and what is myth.
The objects form a collective, consisting of metaphors and illusory contradictions.
Within the layers of complexity a sublime harmony is revealed!

Exhibition media

Exhibition media

Nicole_Invitation pdf-1_2

Exhibition media

For more on Nicole’s work: see my artist profile, all my stories about her, and her ‘Pschomanteum‘ exhibition at Gallery Loupe.

Also see Chili’s facebook page for more images of Nicole’s work in this exhibition.

Wish I was in Athens!

Nicole Polentas & Christopher Earl Milbourne ‘Psychomanteum’ @ Counihan Gallery

14 10 2011

Tonight (which is now last night by the time you’re reading this) was the opening of Nicole Polentas [artist profile] and Christopher Earl Milbourne ‘Psychomanteum‘ [link] at Counihan Gallery (Brunswick Town Hall).

What a wonderful event! Such a great show of support for these two artists. And an incredible body of work, displayed most especially sympathetically.

installation; photograph taken with artists permission

Exhibition media: “Christopher Earl Milbourne and Nicole Polentas explore the intersections between history and cultural memory. Symbolic evocations of place are manifest in jewellery, small-scale sculpture and song.

Two artists explore the qualities of materiality through sculpture and jewellery to provide a shared contemplation on the past, present and future.

Nicole Polentas and Christopher Earl Milbourne have designed their shared exhibition space to resemble the psychomanteum; the naturally occurring rockpools where people would go to consult the Oracles in Ancient Greece. Using cellular clusters of concrete, water and light to invert external space, the ambient and immersive gallery environment enables a consideration of the linkages between place and memory that each artist explores in their own practice.

installation (works of Nicole); photograph taken with artists permission

The opening speech from Associate Professor Robert Baines (who was head of our department when Nicole and I were studying our undergraduate degree) was pretty fabulous actually. He described the sense of giving a material form to the evoked image … I felt it really did pay due respect to the artists.

The plinths were made by the artists – so exacting and definite is the story of their work. It’s something special that they want to go to such lengths to show their work in the ‘right’ way. The tops of the plinths are concrete and many (I think most) filled with water to create the looking-pool. I also understand their hexagonal shape references the beehive, though I was so excited by the work and seeing my friends that I’ve now forgotten how this connected in (it was important, so will find out!). The exhibition design is seriously fantastic and looks great in the space.

installation (Chris's work); photograph taken with artists permission (sorry it's a bit fuzzy, the lighting was very low in this room - quite wonderful for experiencing the work though)

I am already a big fan of these two artists – they are friends of mine, and I love that I can say I’ve seen their work develop over the last six to seven years or so since we met. There is an amazing amount of work here – and their work has an exceptional two-way dialogue that really works.

Lastly, huge thanks to Nicole and her family for the wonderful Greek food spread – now THAT’s how to do an opening!!

Psychomanteum‘ is at Counihan Gallery until 6th November; there will be an artist talk this Saturday 15th October 2011.

Please click below to read more of the media release:

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Artist Profile: Nicole Polentas

13 05 2009

With some of her work currently showing in the ‘Paper Text‘ exhibition at Studio 20/17 (Sydney, until 30th May), I thought it would be great to chat with Melbourne-based maker Nicole Polentas.

Nicole Polentas; Exile: The Blackest Night necklace 2008; silver, gold, copper, plastic, epoxy, image, glass powder, paint, pearls; 420 x 180 x 60 mm

Exile: The Blackest Night, necklace 2008-2009; silver, gold, copper, plastic, epoxy, image, glass powder, paint, pearls

What have you been up to since we graduated from our RMIT undergraduate degree (at the end of 2006)?

Since I graduated from the undergraduate degree I decided to return to study and undertook an MFA (Masters in Fine Art) by coursework. I wanted to develop a process that I could use as a way of making objects that would become part of my identity as a maker. During the MFA I was trying to push the boundaries of what a jewellery object can be and what meanings it can project. I was experimenting with traditional and non-traditional processes and materials.
I exhibited at Galerie Marzee in the international graduate show in the Netherlands (in 2007) and also at Talente in Munich (in 2008). I was also commissioned by Kraft to make a gold commemorative jar for Vegemite (in 2008). I was also awarded the first prize for the Diana Morgan gold and silversmithing alumni and postgraduate show (in 2008). I recently returned from a trip to The Netherlands which I was involved in and helped manage the group show “Jewellery Topos” at Galerie Marzee. I am currently undertaking a research degree at RMIT.

Wow! See the below links for more details and images:

I have found some more information and images of other work Nicole has also exhibited:

Oil Bowl

Oil Bowl, 2008

Where are you currently exhibiting? Any upcoming shows?

I am currently exhibiting in ‘Paper Text‘ at Studio 20/17 in Sydney.
And I will be in the upcoming show at BUDA.

  • ‘Paper Text’ runs at Studio 20/17 until 30th May 2009.
  • The BUDA show isContemporary Australian Silver & Metalwork Exhibition‘ and is showing 6th – 21st June 2009.
Nicole Polentas; Untitled (bracelet); 2006; Sterling silver, plastic, copper and image; Photography by Jeremy Dillon

When Water Spills Over (bracelet); 2006; Sterling silver, plastic, copper and image; Photography by Jeremy Dillon

What has been your most exciting / rewarding experience over the last two years?

The trip to Galerie Marzee to see my work in Europe; and when I was awarded an Australian postgraduate scholarship to continue studies for the next 2 years.

4. What is the next step for your work?

As I am undertaking my MA I am researching the ways that jewellery objects can provide a sense of place through the exploration of collective memory, within my cultural background. I am traveling to Crete to research and experience the landscape and aim to engage in a social enquiry into cultural memory, to gain first hand resources that will inform my jewellery objects.


My Black Night, 2008

It has been wonderful to see the vision Nicole is now expressing as it has developed from her first steps in that direction during our degree – her work is beautiful and always impeccably made. Her investigation into a sense of place, and identity through place, is one I connect with strongly; and it heartens me to see her hard work and talent is being recognised both locally and internationally.

All  images used with permission of the artist.