It’s not what it is

2 11 2015

I was at a dear friend’s home recently. He was playing music that was completely out of character. It may have been doof-doof-like, if memory serves. I remarked how surprised I was by this. He explained it was by … erm, someone-or-other … collaborating with one of his most esteemed most favourite musicians. I protested, but still, it’s doof-doof-like, why listen to it. To which he proclaimed: “it’s not what it is, it’s who does it“.

Ooh, contentious.

Naturally I disagreed most heartily.

Then gave it more thought … if I do like a lot of the work of a particular artist (say), I’m probably more likely to give new (or previously unseen) work consideration (or leeway) that I may not give to an unknown artist if they produced the same object. Though I’m pretty sure it’d not make my opinion change from ‘not connecting with’ to ‘connecting with’.

I wonder if we could test the impact of this attitude in the jewellery (art) world … perhaps we could have a group exhibition with no artist names displayed on pieces? I’m imagining:

  • before you even enter the space you’re asked to fill in a questionnaire, ticking your most favourite two/three artists of those listed (the list being those in the show) … though this is a bit tricky, as it does ‘prime’ you (in psychology parlance); it would work best if the pieces are new or unusual in the artists’ oeuvre
  • then you enter the space, enjoying yourself, probably recognising pieces if they’re typical of the artists
  • after you’ve looked at all, you’re asked to identify the two/three pieces you most connected with
  • then the names of the artists are revealed
  • … how would this then impact your choice of favourites?
  • … would you revise that if you found there was a piece by your favourite artist that you didn’t recognise?


Show it

29 05 2015

A little while ago I wrote of my consternation over whether to display or hide my jewellery.

“Show” has won out.

to display

to display

I’m still toying with the arrangement … and may continue to do so for years to come.

The little ring holders are from another successful Etsy buying experiment, as was the brass-glass case behind; the cuff is one I made a few years ago for a Lord Coconut ‘Art of the Cuff‘ exhibition; and of course you know my rings by Helen Britton, Katherine Bowman, Suzi Zutic.


26 05 2015

It was my misfortune to have high school English teachers who deemed it unnecessary to study Shakespeare.

Recently I realised what a shame this was, when a friend read me this passage from Hamlet (Act 1, Scene 5):

I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin’d to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg’d away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love-

Oh goodness me … “harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood
… how magnificent is that.

Hide it or show it

8 05 2015

I own a couple of very beautiful rings.
I do like looking at them, for they are gorgeous.

When not being worn they’re locked securely away.
But I want to look at them even when I’m not wearing them.

So I’ve been thinking about making a little display of them.
However … well … a part of me is worried about them being stolen.

Though that’s a bit silly right … because:

  • when my apartment was broken into (about a decade ago now) the weird-stealing-people found every bit of jewellery I owned anyway, no matter where I had hid it
  • I can always lock them away on the days my cleaner comes (yes, I am so bourgeois; in my defence my tricky health meant I needed to make difficult choices about where I want to spend my energy; I reasoned that the cost of the cleaner means I have stamina and time to do more soul-nourishing things)
  • living on my own means very few unapproved people wander through the place
  • it’s not like I’d have the display near a street-facing window where passers-by should chance to see them
  • the only other reason for not having them displayed somewhere would be for metal/surface care … however I rotate my rings regularly (erm that sounds stranger than I meant it to!), and therefore it’s not such a problem for me (there are always polishing cloths to care for that)

Do you display or hide?

Still life paintings

5 05 2015

I was watching a documentary the other day about still life paintings (‘Apples Pears and Paint. How to Make a Still Life Painting‘, BBC).

It was pretty good.
Though one thing annoyed me, perhaps unreasonably …

Starting with the interesting observation: that a great majority of still life paintings are lit from the left. I’ve been looking at art since I can remember and admit to not having made this observation.

Another few interesting comments: that the painting of everyday objects was considered the most lowly manner of art for centuries, and that the painting now considered to be the first ‘still life’ is Caravaggio’s ‘Basket of Fruit‘ (1599).

Caravaggio 'Canestra di frutta' (click on image for original source)

Caravaggio ‘Canestra di frutta’ (click on image for original source)

Then onto the theory / justification for the left lighting: that it was due to the increasing literacy (coinciding with the time of the Renaissance) and that in western culture information is read from left to right; and therefore we ‘read’ all information from left to right, even visual information. Ergo the left-originating light in still life.

I think the simpler reason still life paintings are lit from the left is that many artists are right-handed, and that if the light were to come from the right then the paper/canvas wouldn’t be well lit and the working hand would create a shadow.

Actually, I recognise that itself contains an assumption … do you know of any evidence of left versus right hand tendencies in artists?


Apparently Leonard da Vinci drew and painted left-handed – which may actually discredit my idea above, as some of his portraits are lit from the left, with others from the right … but he’s a genius, so he could well have done whatever he liked.

Also, this article discusses claims of left-handed artists, dismissing many of them.

More research to come … I’m wondering if this hasn’t already been the subject of someone’s thesis … surely …


3D printing and exhibition merchandise

1 05 2015

Yes, it’s still on my mind … I’ve been thinking about how else this technology could be used …

I’ve previously sternly criticised a few blockbuster exhibitions for their poor attempt at merchandise. The example most prominent in my memory is the lack of special or even decent jewellery ‘merch’ at the Melbourne Museum’s ‘Afghanistan‘ exhibition a few years ago [the link in that story no longer works; use this one].

As I wrote at the time: “And the ‘jewellery’ on offer? Oh dear. Oh dear me. I’d have perhaps bought some for my nieces (they’re under 10) but not for myself.

My thought grenade on this topic: I was so charmed by the little clothing ornaments, that if there were a little gold reproduction pendant (while I’d have loved a high carat version to replicate the colouring of the original, perhaps 9ct would have been the most economically viable option) on a delicate little chain (or even not on a chain – I have some at home or could easily acquire one) I’d have bought it. Seriously.

On the day I had spent more than $30 for the entry ticket and audio tour, there was parking to be paid too – so why wouldn’t the museum (quite rightly) predict I may have some disposable income to spend on a genuinely beautiful item? The merchandising doesn’t all have to be … erm … inexpensive; there is room for quality.

And who am I to say? Just a visitor. A visitor who wanted to take something home with me as a souvenir of my visit. But didn’t.

exhibition media; click on image for original source; Photographs courtesy Musée Guimet, Thierry Ollivier

exhibition media; click on image for original source; photograph Musée Guimet, Thierry Ollivier

Now … what if the museums/galleries holding huge exhibitions with massive merchandise budgets considered this possibility … choose two or three special small items from the show (or even elements of items), have them 3D scanned (with high resolution), have them 3D-printed and then cast, in lower-cost metals for the affordable end and perhaps a very small number in gold for visitors with genuine interest and cash to spend.

I’d seriously consider buying a little item that was an accurate replica of a superb ancient artefact if it was available. Of course, I’m thinking of this with respect to exhibitions that contain jewellery items … though it may have broader applications.

So there’s my gauntlet Melbourne Museum and NGV … or NGA, how about you lead the field on this? Though given the risk of anything new, I expect we’ll see this of The Met or V&A first.

I’d love to see if/when this happens …

3D printing and the future of jewellery

28 04 2015

A little while ago (August last year), after seeing Bin Dixon-Ward’s ‘Grids‘ exhibition at Craft, I wrote the following about three-dimensional printing:
I am interested in how this technology will impact future creation of adornment – perhaps even self-service jewellery, where a ‘designer’ makes their original design available online and a person can purchase it to have it printed themselves in whatever colour and material they desire.

With a little more knowledge, I’d amend that to “whatever colour they wished, or cast in the material they desire“.

My recent visit to Maureen Faye-Chauhan’s ‘Concurrence‘ exhibition at Gallery Funaki woke this question up again … as my favourite pieces in the show, the gold rings, were 3D-printed and then cast (available in limited editions).

If memory serves (and that’s quite a significant caveat lately), I think the first time I saw jewellery made with the assistance of this technology were Cinnamon Lee‘s rings … though I’m sure she was working on them for years before I set my eyes on them at the 2009 BUDA award exhibition.

As affordability, level of detail, accessibility to printers and usability of software improves, I’m sure we’ll see much more of this technology in the world of jewellery … not least because it permits expanded creativity for makers, but it also can make pieces more affordable for wearers (as it reduces manufacturing time for complex pieces).

I don’t think it’ll be very long before we see a kind of self-service or click-and-order situation …

What do you think?