Katherine Bowman ‘My Assemblages’ @ Milly Sleeping

6 05 2015

Katherine Bowman is showing a small collection of works ‘My Assemblages‘ at Milly Sleeping (a lovely little boutique in Carlton).

It’s a gorgeous group.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

The above photograph doesn’t do it justice at all. The colours are wonderful, the display is beautifully balanced, and there’s a sense of delight that’s palpable.

I was especially taken with the pendant second-from-the-left … I even tried it on … I’m still thinking about taking it home. If you’re like me and regularly read Katherine’s blog, you’ll also have seen some images of these as I did; even so, when I saw them in person their scale surprised and pleased me.

I also tried on the rings, and they’re completely amazing (especially Ring #3).

Make sure you check out Katherine’s blog for much more beautiful photographs of these works, as well as the accompanying watercolours.

This is a perfectly compact and coherent collection, and offering this kind of showing space to a maker is pretty special. Most importantly because of the small-ish scale : my feeling is that it may permit a little more adventure, perhaps it would encourage a maker to take a little more risk to follow a new line of enquiry when the group is relatively intimate.

As a maker (though relapsed?!) I’d find this kind of presentation forum and scale much more approachable and achievable, as opposed to a blockbuster solo show (well at least that’s how I’d imagine it). And the fewer objects there are, the more each one can be seen in better focus and appreciated for its uniqueness.

Go along; be inspired.

Katherine Bowman’s ‘My Assemblages‘ is at Milly Sleeping until 24th May 2015.


See also:


‘Words & Works from a World Away’ @ Project Space Spare Room

12 08 2013

I do so much enjoy an exhibition with a conceptual basis, especially of the ‘reply’ or inspiration kind. ‘Words & Works from a World Away‘ at Project Space / Spare Room has such a basis – curated by the uber-talented Claire McArdle.

installation; photograph taken with permission

installation; photograph taken with permission

Exhibition media: “What do they say about us on the other side of the world? And what do you know about them?

This exhibition unites the North and the South through the work of jewellery and object artists from Estonia and Australia. The artists produce work in response to statements from the other side of the world about their own country. Their reaction and the resulting work explores issues of identity and the global flow of information between two physically and culturally separate countries.

Each piece is accompanied by the text that is being responded to – a statement about the artist’s country written by someone from the other country. It’s quite lovely.

My favourite piece of all is one by Kadri Mälk – a beautiful black piece “It’s dark all the time“. There were a number of Estonian makers responding to this same (or similar) text, which make up a table of intriguing black/dark pieces.

There are some heavy-weight artists taking part – and I mean that in the most respectful way! Participating artists are (alphabetically by surname):

  • Linda al-Assi [EST]
  • Robert Baines [AUS] ; Nicholas Bastin [AUS] ; Robin Bold [AUS] ; Zoe Brand [AUS]
  • Melissa Cameron [AUS]
  • Anna Davern [AUS]
  • Mark Edgoose [AUS] ; Rita-Livia Erikson [EST]
  • Stephen Gallagher [AUS]
  • Ulvi Haagensen [EST] ; Mary Hackett [AUS] ; Kirsten Haydon [AUS] ; Nils Hint [EST]
  • Naoko Inuzuka [AUS]
  • Annika Kedelauk [EST] ; Inari Kiuru [AUS] ; Aija Kivi [EST] ; Keiu Koppel [EST] ; Katarina Kotselainen [EST]
  • Teresa Lane [AUS] ; Urmas Lüüs [EST]
  • Kadri Mälk [EST] ; Claire McArdle [AUS]
  • Hans-Otto Ojaste [EST]
  • Kaire Rannik [EST] ; Anne Reinberg [EST]
  • Adolfas Šaulys & Mari Relo-Šaulys [EST]
  • Mark Vaarwerk [AUS] ; Anita Van Doorn [AUS] ; Tanel Veenre [EST]

There’s a lovely video of the exhibition pieces too – gorgeous.

Words & Works from a World Away‘ is at Project Space / Spare Room until 15th August 2013.

Update [28th August]: Melissa Cameron has shared some excellent images of the exhibition too.

‘Afghanistan’ @ Melbourne Museum

16 07 2013

There’s a danger with me and long-running exhibitions … it never seems urgent to visit, ‘you know, because it’s on for a while‘, and I have a tendency to put a visit off and off. Also though, I was quite disappointed with a previous visit to the museum, and so was wary about going back..

I realised at the start of July I probably should get my skates on and see ‘Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the Kabul Museum‘ before the end of the month. A friend’s endorsement that the objects were amazing was enough to get me motivated.

Compared to my previous visiting experience, it was a much more mature exhibition presentation – quite sombre in fact, the lighting is dim and the colours of the design quite dark (most likely the same design as in many of the cities this exhibition has already traveled through).

Afghanistan has over 1,500 archaeological sites. The material in this exhibition is drawn from four key sites and spans 2,200 years – the period between 2,000 BC and AD 200.” The four rooms radiate from a central vestibule. So when you finished with one room, you exited out the same ‘door’ you came in and then could choose your next room. I was visiting in the middle of a Monday (first day of school being back) and it wasn’t busy, however I can imagine the people-jams this arrangement could have created on a full day.

The star of the entire exhibition, and naturally the source of the pin-up media images, is the The Bactrian Hoard from Tillya Tepe. This is the core of the traveling exhibition.

Exhibition media: “The Afghanistan region was populated by wave after wave of Turkic and Mongol descendants –excellent horsemen and ruthless raiders epitomised in the figure of Genghis Khan. Nomadic culture and ways of life have continued on and are a source of fascination for some observers.  In 1978 Russian archaeologist Victor Sarianidi uncovered the ancient graves of six nomads together with over 21,000 gold artefacts of exquisite beauty and artistry. Presumed to be royalty, the nomads had lived between 100 BC and AD 100 and would have carried their wealth with them. The artefacts included thousands of miniscule items of jewellery and other adornments that had been sewn into their clothing. When the Taliban came to power and began destroying works in the Kabul Museum, some brave curators hid the nomad hoard to try and preserve it. Rediscovered in 2003, this collection is travelling the world until its homeland is more stable and safe.

The major piece is completely astounding: the Tillya Tepe crown (found with one of the women). It can be disassembled and packed flat; and yet still looks incredible … due to most of the material being exceptionally thin gold sheet. I wonder how much this would weigh if it was all melted down – not much I would think.
And yes please, I would like one, thanks.

exhibition media; A collapsible nomadic crown, (Tillya tepe), 100 BC - 100 AD National Museum of Afghanistan Photo © Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

exhibition media; A collapsible nomadic crown, (Tillya tepe), 100 BC – 100 AD; National Museum of Afghanistan; Photo © Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

There are some astonishing pieces here, and naturally the larger ones are those giving rise to the oohs and aaahs of visitors. However I found myself completely charmed by the many ‘ornaments’, large numbers of little decorative shapes to be sewn on to clothing. Many were smaller than 5mm square, and they were displayed en masse to great effect.

My other favourite was the ornament for the collar of a garment (which I thought was a necklace initially). It showed the typical use of turquoise and garnets and gold, and motifs used in other works in the collection: almonds, teardrops, discs, and circles interleaved with a shape like a rounded capital-I, granulation. Gorgeous.

exhibition media; An elaborate robe decoration in the form of a necklace, (Tillya Tepe), 100 BC - 100 AD National Museum of Afghanistan Photo © Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

exhibition media; An elaborate robe decoration in the form of a necklace, (Tillya Tepe), 100 BC – 100 AD; National Museum of Afghanistan; Photo © Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

If you’re at all interested in goldsmithing do try to get there to see these in person. You could of course look at the objects on the Museum’s online resource, but it’s not really the same (though the visit to the museum is getting pretty expensive, so perhaps online viewing may be the best value for many).

I’d have loved it if some of the pieces were displayed over a mirror, so we could see the back … I’d love to know how some of the objects were constructed, if they were cast or repoussé or hammered into carved stone etc.

The distribution of artefacts per room seemed quite uneven, as all rooms seemed to have equivalent floor space though contained quite uneven numbers of items. The effect was most striking in the first room, which felt like such a huge space to dedicate to only a handful of objects – one plinth is dramatically lit and surrounded by an arc of steel cables from floor to roof. This room is for artifacts from Tepe Follol: “The gold and silver bowls from this archaeological site are over 4,000 years old. … have given archaeologists and historians a better understanding of the Bronze Age in Afghanistan. They represent a civilisation previously unknown to scholars that must have had an impact on the major civilisations in the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. The area was home to farmers and settlers from 7,000 BC.

The second room shows objects from Ai Khanum: “… the site of the architectural remains of the most northerly Greek city in the world. It was established by descendants of Alexander the Great’s soldiers left behind when Alexander headed to India.“.

And the fourth shows objects from Begram on the Silk Road: “… one of the most important archaeological sites in Afghanistan. Archaeologists found two rooms here, sealed over 2,000 years ago and filled with artefacts from all across the trade routes of the time. At first scholars thought the rooms and their rich contents were evidence of a royal palace but later research suggests they were vast storerooms of goods ready for trade along the Silk Road.

These rooms were interesting enough, though I was most interested in the goldwork, naturally.

It also seems common now for a museum exhibition to include ambient sounds. I cannot see why it is necessary, though perhaps to dispel the hushed silence of most museums and put visitors more at ease to discuss the objects.

Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the Kabul Museum‘ is at the Melbourne Museum until 28th July 2013. And while I couldn’t see this detail on the Melbourne site, the Western Australian Museum site indicates that this exhibition will travel to Brisbane, Sydney and Perth during 2013/14.

After writing the above, I searched for other reviews of the exhibition: this one is especially worth reading for background. I remember hearing of the museum in Kabul being looted and thought how barbaric that was. You can see from my writing above I didn’t delve into this part of the story – not for want of ignoring it, but for lack of knowledge to adequately share the story, and I’m sure there are many who can do that aspect more justice.

Update (17th July): I’ve been thinking more about this exhibition, specifically the awful merchandising effort in the ‘gift shop’.

I was completely flummoxed that there were no postcards of the special gold items (the ones in the media) – I mean really! Surely they would have sold psquillions (yes, it’s a number) of them if they’d been available. Perhaps they were not made available in order to encourage sales of the $35 exhibition book? It seems permission to use the images was granted, as the crown image was printed on a tote bag (no, that is not a postcard; no, I do not want a tote bag). Still, I’d estimate that they’d have made more money overall if they had postcards of the main gold items, especially if they were in a 5-pack or something similar. I’d have bought them.

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.

‘A Day in Pompeii’ @ Melbourne Museum

7 09 2009

The other ‘Winter Masterpiece block-buster exhibition’ in Melbourne, next to Salvador Dali, is ‘A Day in Pompeii‘ at Melbourne Museum.

I had attempted two other times to visit it, but turned on my heels when I saw the huge lineup. So, I finally decided to go on my Friday off. Sadly though this meant I was also contending with school groups, but it was a risk I was willing to take (yet mitigate somewhat by going at around 2pm).

I wouldn’t have gone to this exhibition but for the promise of jewellery. In my twenties I travelled through some of Europe, and have always done a lot of reading of art and history, so knew enough of the history of Pompeii and had seen many artefacts at the National Archeological Museum in Naples – so there wasn’t really any strong reason for me to go, but for the lure of gold.

Understandably, photography is not permitted. As was my experience of the Dali exhibition, most other museum visitors were somewhat bemused by my sketching.


There are fifteen jewellery pieces on display; all but one are yellow gold:

  • two bracelets ‘in a popular style in the Vesuvian area‘; twelve pairs of domed elements; ‘worn not only on wrists but also upper arms and ankles‘; these were lovely and an image of a very similar (perhaps the same) bracelets is here (about two-thirds down the page)
  • two snake-head armbands; one inscribed with ‘DOMINUS ANCILLAE SUAE’ which translates to ‘from the master to his slave’; the accompanying text states ‘sex between master and slave was not considered a scandal, but a common domestic occurrence‘; fabulous for them; an image of this piece is here (about two-thirds down the page)
  • long necklace of pale blue glass paste beads, with a larger central bead
  • two pairs of earrings; these were by far my most favourite pieces, the shape is voluptuous and the construction is fascinating and I wish I could have got a closer look at them; one of them was covered in granulation, similar to the earrings here
  • four rings, mostly quite thin and with a small seal area; Roman laws stated the ‘only article of jewellery permitted to adult male citizens was a signet ring’
  • long rope necklace or ‘catena’
  • bracelet with alternating glass inlay and flat figure-eight shapes
  • two bracelets in a similar shape as a small signet ring; the construction of these were interesting, as the gold was folded in on the narrower parts

I was standing at the display for a little time and caught a few snatches of conversation:

  • two high-school girls were reverent that they were looking at jewellery worn by ‘someone who’s dead now’; I thought that was pretty funny, given all the objects there were once owned by people who are now dead, and in fact that’s the case of many objects in museums yes?
  • a young boy with his family asked why it was all gold; an interesting and observant question but one I didn’t hear answered
  • a woman asked her companion whether ‘gold was as expensive then as it is now; because it seemed all the old civilisations had gold’; thankfully the man said that it was probably even more valued and they wandered away – the comment sent my mind whirring with the properties of gold that make it valued and the reasons it may seem like all civilisations may have it but that’s a function of its durability and it makes a prettier display object in modern museums… so much that could have been said about that …

The body casts are well presented actually, and it was good to see the clear warning before entering the room. It wasn’t as emotive for me as I expected it would have been, perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood. But it was interesting that they all seemed quite a bit shorter and smaller than modern-day people.

Frankly though I was disappointed with the exhibition as a whole. It felt like it was more aimed at education groups and providing a ‘virtual experience’ of the streets of Pompeii – I recognise there are many who will enjoy this, but it wasn’t something I enjoyed. And there wasn’t a whole lot of space to walk between the dioramas, so I would have been most unhappy visiting on a busier day.

This exhibition has been reviewed by quite a few bloggers, but this one made me smile with recognition.

A Day in Pompeii‘ is at Melbourne Museum until 25th October 2009.

RMIT jewellery auction – the night

24 08 2009

I was so dearly hoping to add to my collection at this year’s auction, but was defeated by an amazingly enthusiastic crowd doing some fantastic bidding!


just before the start

The venue was packed initially, but the crowd reduced a little after the first break.  I do have to admit that I went home (like a nana, I know) during the second set (of four) as I was feeling mighty weary, and more importantly had been out-bid on the brooch I really really wanted – a beautiful enamelled piece by Claire O’Halloran [piece, her site]. That’s not to say there weren’t lovely pieces after #31 of #101, but I did have my heart set…

In my day (again, nana, I know) we were impossibly tickled and impressed when a piece reached $150 say – but this year that mark was effortlessly sailed past by many in the first and early second set … a good indication indeed of the wealth of support for this event and the artists and the artform. Someone next to me remarked: ‘what global financial crisis’.

A lot of effort goes in to organising this kind of event (especially while also attempting to concentrate on producing a body of work for assessment in a few short months), and each graduating year learns from the previous years. The one tip (by no means meant as a criticism of this year’s event) I would suggest to next year’s group is to look for a larger venue – this annual evening is so very popular, and as alumni and general community support continues to grow, more seats and room will become necessary. That said though, through my own experience, I completely understand how hard it is to find a venue that ticks all the boxes – close to uni (for safe transport of pieces and organisation), drinkies for the bidders, a good feel, a least a little protection from random-crazy-dudes who wander by and make havoc (this happened a few times in the past), and not too expensive to hire (preferably free), with the facilities for holding an auction (stage/platform, audio, lights, projector, etc). It is easy to underestimate how successful you’ll be and I would venture to say that every year has been surprised by it – perhaps planning for a very large attendance sometimes feels like tempting fate. This was actually a pretty good venue, but if only it was a smidge larger.

The most impressive development was the on-line previewing – the photography was exceptional, and it did relieve some of the pressure to get to the boards to see the pieces on the night. This must be continued in future years, it is almost necessary.

I hope the graduate group had a fantastic night and that the fundraising was most successful!

Please feel free to share your experiences of the evening – did you get to take home the piece you had your heart set on? Did you stay to the end and have some more stories to share?

RMIT Jewellery auction – tonight!

20 08 2009

Finally, no more sleeps to wait!

Be sure to check out the photographs on their website – this site is a real step forward in professionalism for the auction (my year had nothing like it!), the photographs are sensational and the quality of the work easy to see in such close detail. I am super-impressed!

Viewing from 5:30pm; Auction from 6:30pm

Bella Union Bar, Trades Hall, cnr Lygon + Victoria Street, Carlton

cash + card accepted (great idea – means I’m more likely to spend more – could spell danger)

I am looking forward to collecting up a storm! See you there.

[previous post]

RMIT jewellery auction

5 08 2009

Jewellery lovers in Melbourne will be excited to know that the next RMIT G&S Jewellery Auction is only a few weeks away!

I love this event – in the past I have brought home pieces by Joung-Mee Do, Lucy Hearn, Michelle Cangiano, Suzi Zutic (I’ll share more about them in future posts about my collection). Over the five years I’ve been attending the event, the student jewellery is always interesting and the alumni jewellery always incredible (both in technical skill and generosity of the makers!).


Does anyone know if/when the other graduate groups (NMIT, Box Hill, Monash) hold jewellery auctions?

Update (6th August 2009): there is now a website with some images of the pieces being auctioned. Plus, be sure to read the comments on this post for more information too!