‘Schmuck’ @ RMIT Gallery – part 4

26 06 2009

No, I’m not tired of this exhibition yet!

When I first visited, I left with the impression that there were a lot of textile pieces – either wholly made of fabric or thread, or jewellery with such components. I decided to visit again and conduct an objective survey – to look at materials and form.

image from 'Handwerk & Design' media images

Tota Reciclodas (Argentina); image from 'Handwerk & Design' media images

And the results are:

  • 60 jewellers
  • 212 pieces of jewellery
  • 117 brooches – this is by far the most popular form
  • 55 necklaces
  • 16 rings and 16 bracelets
  • only 5 earrings – why is this not a popular form?

In terms of materials:

  • only half of the jewellers have used metals as their predominant material
  • there are 8 jewellers for whom textiles is the focal material – which was interesting to me, given my initial impression; however these pieces are generally much more colourful and larger than the other works, so perhaps it was their sheer visual impact that influenced my view
  • there are few pieces with gems – which could be argued as a quite traditional element in jewellery
  • 2 jewellers have used mother of pearl – which to my mind is probably over-representative of the use of that material in the whole jewellery community
  • there is quite a bit of wood, which is not an uncommon material in my experience; and lots of plastics and ‘collected’ objects

After this, my questions are:

(1) Why so few earrings and rings / so many brooches?

Is it in some part because earrings are limited by weight and size, and have a potentially more awkward position on the body? Perhaps brooches are more adaptable to communicating ideas – it is tempting to suggest that brooches are ‘easy’, in that an idea or creation can be put together and a pin simply put on the back in order to attach to the body … I recall being warned during my degree to integrate the pin or brooch into the piece, and not just ‘slap’ a pin on the back as an afterthought. I’m certainly not implying that is happening here at all, but the clear dominance brooch format is interesting.

If I think about my own work, I realise that most of my pieces are brooches too. However I am hesitant to extrapolate from my work to the general community, as many of my brooches were specifically referencing textiles and therefore being attached to the clothes on the torso made more sense than being hung around the neck or off the ears. I wonder if it is similar for other makers?

On the ring question: personally, I fling my hand around when I talk, so if I make rings then they need to be very sturdy; and not all of my ideas do well as ‘sturdy’. I imagine it may be similar for others, especially those exploring materials that need to be treated with care.

Further, I have considered recent exhibitions I’ve enjoyed and notice they are also largely brooches and necklaces. On a practical note as a maker you can be sure anyone can wear your brooch, however not everyone will be able to wear your earrings or have fingers the size of rings you make – perhaps it is that simple.

(2) Where have the gems gone? Are gems and ‘contemporary jewellery’ incompatible?

(3) Why is metal not more popular? Again, is this traditional versus contemporary?

My previous stories on ‘Schmuck 2009‘ can be found by using the Search facility, or the category cloud, in the right column. ‘Schmuck 2009‘ is at RMIT Gallery until 18th July 2009.





‘Schmuck’ in the press, again

21 06 2009

from The Age, A2, Saturday 20th June 2009

The below article states that RMIT Gallery is open from 2-5pm on Saturday; however they have expanded their opening hours for this exhibition, and actually open at 12pm on Saturdays.

The Age, A2, 20th June 2009

The Age, A2, 20th June 2009





‘Schmuck’ @ RMIT Gallery – part 3

19 06 2009

Continuing my stories on ‘Schmuck 2009‘ at RMIT Gallery…

This installment is my TOP 3. It wasn’t that difficult to choose actually, as I immediately responded to these pieces – but the next top five, say, are quite hard to pick (but I will try another time)!

#1. Alexandra BahlmannSix Necklaces

image from 'Handwerk & Design' media images

image from 'Handwerk & Design' media images

  • the exhibition has three pieces from this series, two black ones (oxidised silver), and a gold necklace
  • for me it harks to traditional goldsmithing and more ‘traditional’ jewellery adornment – refined and pretty and feminine – especially the gold necklace
  • attention to detail and the repetition of elements is appealing; as is the layering
  • the individual shapes are medieval, renaissance, victorian, georgian … echos of historic eras, but with a clearly modern edge
  • I wanted to put on immediately and take home with me
  • the inclusion of the fine chain element is the only question I had, for it seems to clutter the lines of the piece – but I have yet to spend enough time in person seeing if it is actually necessary for keeping it all together, or if it is added for an aesthetic reason
  • the image I have used is from exhibition media, instead of one I took myself (the one I took didn’t quite turn out)
  • Update (20th June 2009): a new image of these necklaces … the gold one is so very beautiful
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

#2. Sam Tho Duong ‘Frozen

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

  • these pieces were selected (one of three) for the Herbert Hoffman Award this year
  • it is a shame that the image in the catalogue is a detail only, for it doesn’t show the dynamic and life the each piece has – though it does show the amazing construction of the elements (silver balls with seed pearls)
  • there is a sensivity, without sentimentality
  • another image is here

#3. Beate Eismann ‘Embroidered Genesis D

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

  • these brooches are made from paper, with handcolouring and embroidery
  • they are larger than images imply, being approximately 15cm long
  • their size makes me less inclined to put them on and wear them, and I think it would be lovely to see this idea translated onto smaller pieces – though I understand that some of the elements may be compromised on a smaller scale
  • the rough edge on the middle piece reminds me of my own work in my second year … more on that another time

Lastly, the ‘unsure but intrigued by’ goes to: Timothy Information limited.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

  • I like the message, but I wouldn’t put it on my body
  • it is clearly meant to shock, and I shy away from being overtly provocative and prefer the subtle message that isn’t so blatant and crass, but requires some intelligence to decipher
  • the propellor reminds me of the hats that are usually on dumb or infantile people – so the connection for me is fairly clear to the currently observed effects of rampant capitalism
  • I still applaud it though, for it made me laugh out loud (in a good way) when I first saw it

My previous stories on ‘Schmuck 2009‘ can be found by using the Search facility, or the category cloud, in the right column.





‘Schmuck’ @ RMIT Gallery – part 2

13 06 2009

Following my recent story about the opening night of ‘Schmuck 2009‘ at RMIT Gallery, I thought I’d show some images of the installation.

I intend to visit a few more times to gather my, currently random, thoughts about the work on show – having so many pieces in one place is almost a sensation overload!

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

The above image shows jewellery by:

  • (foreground) Rut-Malin Barkland from Sweden;
  • (mid-ground, from front) Christine Graf  from Germany, and Tarja Lehtinen from Finland;
  • (back plinth, from left to right) Beate Eismann from Germany, Ute Eitzenhofer from Germany, Sarah Troper from Canada
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

It’s a bit tricky to see much detail of the jewellery in this image, but the more clear ones are:

  • (foreground) Ulla and Martin Kaufmann from Germany
  • (next along) Mikiko Minewaki from Japan, and Beppe Kessler from Netherlands
  • (far left plinth) Kasimir Oppermann from Germany
  • (left wall) Lisa Walker from New Zealand (currently in Germany)
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

The above image shows jewellery by:

  • (foreground) Evert Nijland from Netherlands
  • (second plinth, front to back) Kiko Gianocca from Switzerland, and John Iversen from USA
  • (third plinth, front to back) Iris Bodemer from Germany, and Monica Strasser from Switzerland
  • the rest is a little hard to determine
photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

More to come…

Schmuck 2009‘ is at RMIT Gallery until 18th July 2009.

Update (19th June 2009): also read Schmuck‘ @ RMIT Gallery – part 3