Vito Bila ‘Unseamly Vessels’ @ Craft

19 08 2014

There simply aren’t enough silversmithing exhibitions.
Large scale metalwork is magnificent.
Vito Bila is one of smiths I admire most.
He is showing a collection of work at Craft, titled ‘Unseamly Vessels‘.

It’s a particularly apt title I think, for in my eyes the work has evolved from exceptionally minimal vessels (of many years ago) to these pieces …

installation

installation

… where the seams are distinctly obvious, exaggerated or highlighted. Some with texture, some with technique, and some with thick application of alternative metals (in the aluminium on copper vessels).

A handful of the pieces on show are from 2007, with others from 2011 and since.

The below vessels are the standouts to me – stainless steel, with precision-spaced welding dots … beautiful. The paper studies for these were in the previous exhibition I saw of his work, at Monash.

Vessel cluster #1 (2012)

Vessel cluster #1 (2012)

I’m at a bit of a loss with respect to the chosen exhibition design (the off-angle green one at the back upsets my peculiar penchant for lined up edges) – perhaps the uneven and distinct tables reflect the seams on the vessels. That said, the pre-loved work tables are a most effective contrast to the refined cabinets of the ‘Transplantation‘ exhibition in the same room.

Best of all, it pleases me no end that there is not a highly polished surface in sight.

Vito Bila ‘Unseamly Vessels‘ is at Craft until 30th August 2014.

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See also: September 2012 Vito Bila ‘narrative

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‘Transplantation’ @ Craft

18 08 2014

August is always a fabulous month at Craft – this month is no less than a jewellery and silversmithing extravaganza.

Transplantation – A sense of place and culture – British and Australian Narrative Jewellery‘ is a traveling exhibition curated by Professor Norman Cherry from the University of Lincoln (England).

installation

installation

Exhibition media: “This exhibition of contemporary narrative explores the sense of place and cultural identity through the theme of transplantation. Artists based in the UK and Australia have explored their own sense of place and individual cultural identity as a consequence of their personal and family experiences of transplantation.

Jewellery provides a means of recording memory and experience in a portable and wearable form. Through this medium it is possible to express ideas, thoughts, and concerns, which may not be achievable in other ways. Twelve contemporary jewellery artists from the UK and Australia have been selected to create up to three pieces of work each, which will articulate the notion of transplantation in a tangible form.

The exhibition design is reminiscent of a museum layout or like cases displaying specimens … no doubt quite deliberate given the concept. I think this kind of display puts me in mind of looking at ‘old or extinct things’ – bowing down to see the pieces, under glass, and in really very beautiful quality cabinets.

The Australian artists are separated from the English artists – two groups of six cabinets.

Australian group

Australian group

The works of the English group were very intriguing. I especially liked Lin Cheung’s work (in the bottom left of the below image) of 24 pennies made of gold ranging from 1 to 24 carat. The description of the story is beautiful and I think most evocative of the ‘transplantation’ concept.

English group

English group

Participating artists are:

Australia

  • Anna Davern, Melbourne (notoriously and gleefully Australiana-loving, and therefore a perfect artist to include in such a show) [website, my blog posts]
  • Roseanne Bartley, Melbourne [blog]
  • Joung-Mee Do, Melbourne [my blog posts]
  • Nick Bastin, Melbourne [my blog posts]
  • Sheridan Kennedy, Sydney [website]
  • Bridie Lander, Sydney/Birmingham

England

  • Jivan Astfalck, London
  • Norman Cherry, Lincoln
  • Jack Cunningham, Birmingham [website]
  • Laura Potter, London [website]
  • Lin Cheung, London [website]
  • Jo Pond, Derby [website]

The exhibition catalogue is available online here (pdf).

Transplantation‘ has been traveling [see other locations here] and is at Craft until 30th August 2014.

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Update (an hour after initial publication): it was remiss of me (well, forgetful actually) to omit that Zoe Brand wrote a well considered review of this exhibition catalogue for AJF last year – see it here.

At the time Zoe and I had a brief email exchange about what exactly ‘narrative‘ jewellery is/was … I’ve always struggled with these genre-definitional-related terms.

When asked ‘what I understood the term ‘narrative jewellery’ to mean‘, my immediate reply went like this: “[I] initially thought that it would be jewellery with a story, but then realised that almost all contemporary jewellery has a back-story or concept.  Well, let’s see : it’s not figurative, purely conceptual, status objects, ‘ugly / unwearable’, materiality-exploration, technique-driven, tradition-busting, form-focal, lyric … could it be political or social commentary, personal commentary? Thoughts then wandered to the narrative usually referring to a ‘story of the self’, told in first-person… does this always have to be done in a way that is obvious to a viewer (to enable categorisation)?“. Clearly confused.

I really enjoyed reading Zoe’s essay again after seeing the show … and completely agree with her statement: “the work of Australian Anna Davern is, for me, the most successful example of what I would call narrative work in this exhibition. There was absolutely no need to read her statement to understand what her work suggests. These half-man-half-animal figures immediately and with much humor allude to the shared and bloody history of both Australia and Britain.

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Kirsten Haydon ‘Ice storeroom’ @ Craft

25 07 2014

Kirsten was one of my two enameling teachers at RMIT. And for that I will be forever grateful – I love the practice, though of course haven’t done any for many years now. Not like Kirsten – she continues to explore the technique and her connection with the Antarctic in Ice storeroom‘ at Craft.

installation; photograph taken with gallery permission

installation; photograph taken with gallery permission

The installation is wonderful. I like how it transports you to another space – moving through the structure it encloses you and it genuinely feels like you’re quite separate from the gallery. It evokes a sparsely built storeroom.

The brooches are mostly circular (though with differing diameters), and seem to me to refer to ice cores.

Exhibition media: “The ice has a remarkable quality of preserving and storing knowledge within its structure. Inclusions, both micro and macro, in the ice can provide detail about the moment the ice was formed. This knowledge could be accessed from analysing the trapped gases or dust particles or by connecting with the narrative of an enclosed man-made object.
In this installation Ice storeroom builds on Haydon’s previous work with Antarctica and explores the notion that Antarctica is a repository for environmental and cultural knowledge.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

There is more colour in this show than in her previous; with the additional hues within a limited palette of greys and blues and rusts, with a shot of dark grey / black in the bracelet in the foreground above.

Once again I like the neckpieces made of tube-components; and I loved the little objects and the neckpiece ‘ice monitor‘.

I initially thought that many of the pieces could be considered to be quite similar to previous collections (certainly not meant as a criticism but more an observation). However then I realised that newer pieces in this exhibition are accompanied with a smattering of older pieces (from 2006 and since), which may explain my sense of familiarity. I may also be experiencing ignorance or failing memory – I’m absolutely sure that were all the work to be in one room a progression would be completely obvious; and can you imagine how gorgeous that room would be!

That said, some of the neckpieces here show incredibly interesting development of form and construction (as in the ‘Lure of Radium‘ below).

I’d also like to know more about the installation on the back wall; for it is unique in the exhibition in including porcelain in the materials – though I couldn’t quite tell where…

media image; click on image for original source

media image in SMH article; click on image for original source

This exhibition has also been reviewed and written about by:

  • SMH: with a beautiful photograph and well-researched and thoughtful commentary
  • HandMadeLife: with many stunning photographs (including one of ‘ice monitor‘; my favourite statement “Every time we’ve seen her work there has been a level of finesse that makes the ideas feel as complete as the actual work. That accuracy of thinking and of execution is evident in every object, every surface, every well-considered corner of this installation.”
  • BlouIn ArtInfo

And make sure you check out the Craft interview with Kirsten here.

Kirsten Haydon ‘Ice storeroom‘ is at Craft until 26th July 2014.
[Sorry sorry – it closes tomorrow – I’ve had some trouble getting to this one.]

See also: 10th June 2011 Kirsten Haydon ‘ice structure‘ @ Gallery Funkai





‘Fresh!’ @ Craft

17 05 2014

Fresh!‘ : the annual Craft showcase of selected graduate works returns.

This is the 2013 cohort, with the exhibition no longer at the end of the year but a few months later (no doubt to give the curator and students more time).

exhibition ; photograph with permission

exhibition ; photograph with permission

It was a delight to visit.

There is an assuredness in many of these pieces that bodes exceptionally well for their future as makers.

Kate Jones ; photograph with permission

Kate Jones ; photograph with permission

Exhibiting artists are:

  • Ruby Aitchison – gold & silversmithing
  • John Brooks – drawing
  • Grace Crawshaw-McLean [blog] – beautifully delicate and ephemeral weaving (so subtle I almost missed them)
  • Saskia Doherty [website]
  • Annie Gobel [website] – gold & silversmithing; bold neckpieces
  • Marcos Guzman [Kit & Caboodle profile] – gold & silversmithing (photograph below)
  • Kate Jones [tumblr] – ceramics; stunning large-scale objects (photograph above); my favourite group of the whole show
  • Tracey Lamb – visual art
  • Alexander Maklary [website] – ceramics
  • Louise Meuwissen [blog] – painting
  • Elise Sheehan [tumblr] – gold & silversmithing; close-running second favourite (photograph below)
  • Kate Wischusen [website] – gold & silversmithing; I’ve loved Kate’s work before, especially her ‘Montparnasse‘ enamel brooches
Elise Sheehan; photograph taken with permission

Elise Sheehan; photograph taken with permission

Marcos Guzman; photograph taken with permission

Marcos Guzman Ruby Aitchison; photograph taken with permission

Fresh!‘ is at Craft until 1st June 2014.

‘Fresh! 2012’ : oh, I must have missed this exhibition

Fresh! 2011

Fresh! 2010‘ :

Fresh! 2009‘ :

Updated (18th May): the ladies at HML love this exhibition too, and I especially want to quote their statement that “Fresh remains and important exhibition that acts as both celebration and forecast” (hallelujah!).