Vito Bila ‘narrative’

20 09 2012

Since first seeing one of Vito’s silver vessels in Craft Victoria … perhaps in 2002 … I’ve very much admired his work. In fact, I’ve wished to add one of his fine silver vessels to my collection for years. Ah, maybe one day.

I happened to be in the area today and so on a whim popped in to see his masters exhibition ‘narrative‘.

photograph published with artist permission


photograph published with artist permission

I loved the paper studies on the left of the above image … magic. Naturally I also wanted the silver pieces above; and to my surprise also very much liked the piece in-between, which for some reason reminded me of a bronze-age kind of aesthetic.

Seeing such beautiful smithing like this makes me want to get back into smithing … it is such an enjoyable (though physically testing) task. It’s a shame there are hardly any places to learn smithing or practice it, as the sheer scale of the space needed and the many tools (hammers and stakes), not to mention the large annealing torches(!) seems prohibitive. If you know of anywhere I could practice smithing, like a space for some-time rent or such, please do let me know. [I notice that NMIT now has a smithing evening class … which is cool, but evening classes don’t suit me right now, though maybe next year.]

narrative’ by Vito Bila was at Monash University 18th – 20th September 2012.

Past exhibition: ‘The Presence of Things’

19 10 2009

A few months ago I wrote about ‘Ad Astra per Aspera‘, a jewellery exhibition I visited a few years ago which was pretty influential at the time. Another past exhibition that I loved was ‘The Presence of Things: sense veneer and guise’.

This exhibition was at the Faculty Gallery at Monash University over 20th April – 7th June 2006; and also travelled to other venues. It was curated by Stephen Gallagher (kit and caboodle profile), whose mentoring relationship with the Victorian Embroiderers Guild is key to the exhibition concept.

catalogue cover; design by ERD Design

catalogue cover; design by ERD Design

Exhibition media states [here; here]: “The Presence of Things brought together new works by 14 Australian artists and crafts practitioners created in response to the embroidery and lace collections of the Embroiderers Guild, Victoria. Considered to be one of the most important in Australia, the Guild’s textile collection includes 3,000 pieces from around the world, covering a variety of historical eras and techniques. New works integrating woven, embroidered and printed textiles, glass, ceramics and jewellery, cut paper, metalwork, inlay and printmaking, were exhibited alongside the historic pieces of embroidery and lace from which the artists’ drew inspiration. Traditional techniques, patterns, motifs and materials were utilised by the artists and transformed into unique and contemporary works of art.

The exhibition book/catalogue is a wonderful record of the work. The new pieces are shown alongside the pieces from the Guild’s collection that inspired them – the connection is an important part of the appreciation for me.

Artists involved were [images of the works can be found in the PDF accessed here]:

The paper-cut by Kate Cotching and the pin-pricked life-size print by Nicole Welch were my two favourites here; though of course I was happy to see such beautiful work by Joung-Mee Do.

This exhibition reignited my interest in embroidery and lace; it was beautifully shown in the gallery. It inspired me to become a member of the Guild, though sadly my membership has now lapsed and I didn’t get a chance to organise a viewing of their collection – though it’s still something I would love to do.

Melissa Cameron ‘Iteration’ @ Monash University

3 04 2009

I saw Melissa‘s exhibition listing on Kit and Caboodle, a fabulous community site for jewellers. I liked the red piece shown on that site, and the slideshow on her own site, so made sure I popped along to her opening on Wednesday night.

This exhibition forms part of Melissa’s MFA (Master of Fine Art) examinations and is at the university she is attending. The space is quite large and seems more intended for large-scale two-dimensional visual art, but I think it’s better for any work to have room to breathe than to be crowded in a small space.

Below is an image of my favourite piece. All photographs were taken with permission of the artist. I took these without flash so I could capture the shadows (I have a ‘thing’ for objects and their shadows), but for more professional images see Melissa’s own site.

photograph taken with permission of the artist

'Powder compact - planar radial patter' ; guilding metal, steel cable

The elements are cut from the one piece of metal and then held in their three-dimensional relationship by tension in the steel or surgical wire. They are quite sturdy though they look so delicate.

Melissa cuts each piece by hand, for many are made from reclaimed material that makes laser cutting unsuitable. There are pieces made from porcelain, plastic, and bamboo serving platters.

'Planar radial pattern 2' ; blackened mild steel, steel cable, sterling silver

'Planar radial pattern 3' ; blackened mild steel, steel cable, sterling silver

I like that the one above looks a bit like a parachute.

Those familiar with the work of Jason Wade (RMIT alumni) may see similarities here in the use of recycled metal, especially the compact and red tin accompanying pieces made from the void of the cut object. This last part initially reminded me of his work too, but I think there are many more differences than similarities – including much of Jason’s work being a larger scale and retaining the often iconographic patterning of the original object. Further and more importantly though, I understand the intent of their work to be quite different: Jason’s being to subvert the original object and Melissa’s to create a form that also leaves behind evidence of where it once was (at least that’s my interpretation). Finally, I would doubt they know of each others work. I could not find many public images of Jason’s work but for these here (image 7) and here.

There is something in Melissa’s work that I really respond to – the attention to detail, the commitment to hand-work (I have a particular love for saw-piercing myself), the symmetry, the delicacy and lightness … there is much to like.

The scale is intimate and the objects covetable – I wanted to hold one gently in my cupped hand and take it home with me!

'Planar radial pattern 3' ; blackened mild steel, steel cable, sterling silver

'Planar radial pattern 2' ; blackened mild steel, steel cable, sterling silver

The three photographs here are from the ‘planar radial’ series; an equally significant series in this exhibition is the ‘axial’ grouping, more of which can be seen on Melissa’s site.

Good luck Melissa, I hope the examination goes well!

Iteration‘ is at Monash University, Building D Room 1.12, open only weekdays from 11am – 2pm, until 7th April 2009.