‘5×7: early career Australian makers’ @ Gallery Funaki

14 05 2016

Oh dear readers, it has been a marvellously convoluted life that I’ve been living over the last month or more … so much so that it was only possible to visit ‘5×7: early career Australian makers‘ at Gallery Funaki on its last day.

For that I most sincerely beg forgiveness … though I anticipate that many of you have visited yourself, and if not I hope you’ve been watching the online pictures.

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission ; Lindy

Makers invited to exhibit are:

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission ; Marcos (left) and Zoe (right)

I’ve been a long-time sincere admirer of Inari’s work – you may never, or perhaps only rarely, see work with such genuine spirit; or an artist with such a bright internal fire and need to create. The earrings and brooch in this collection were standouts for me; their darkness and surface finish is incredibly ethereal, though somehow broodingly standoffish at the same time. The little aluminium pin was a delight too. And while I admit to being troubled by not being able to hear what the larger scale sculptures were saying, I cannot help but be impressed by their scale and confidence.

I’ve also been a long-time supporter of, and interlocutor with, Zoe – her work is full of words and I freakin’ love words. I’m brutally self-critical and open about my struggle with humour and irreverence in jewellery, as I am far too much of a rigid traditionalist regarding the preciousness of adornment … though I like to think that I’m lightening up a little through exposure to work like Zoe’s (the earrings she’s making for the current Bilk exhibition are fantastic fun – see!). I have such respect for her work, her ethic, her enthusiasm in encouraging other makers, and truly wish I had her approach to making. I actually had a bit of a senior moment, when I initially misread the ‘GO ON’ pendant as ‘GOON’ … ah, showing my Queensland university days there.

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission

photograph taken with explicit gallery permission ; Inari (left) and Annie (right)

In all her previous graduate exhibitions (that I’ve been able to visit) I’ve called out Lindy’s work as exceptional – I do really respond to her vessels’ shapes, and the black is the blackest black I’ve seen in a very long time (it must take her so much preparation and intense care to create). If I hadn’t blown my budget on my recent Norwegian adventures, I may have brought one home with me – though the ones I responded to most had already been bought (which is so super for them and Lindy, not so much for me).

Annie’s work felt a little different to the other makers, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why … perhaps it was due to the colours, with these pieces being pale blue and pinks, and the other work in the show being quite monochromatic and/or low/subdued colouring. Sadly I have quite an aversion to pastels – completely not the fault of the maker of course, all my own fault!

The collection of pendants by Marcos was a revelation. It shouldn’t have been of course, as I’ve seen his work in many graduate and other shows … but it seems this particular group really called out to my attentions. I was speaking with another maker recently, and they made a great observation that I agree with (but cannot claim as my own) : he makes perspex look like it’s not perspex. It can really be a tricky material, though in his hands it’s transformed and given a delicious matt finish. How he put the colours into the holes in the material is beyond me! I spent ages, along with today’s most excellent gallery attendant, trying to figure how how he did it … part of me really really seriously wants to know, but I rather enjoy the mystery of not knowing too.

Warmest congratulations to the makers for being invited … by the best contemporary jewellery gallery in the universe no less(!) … to exhibit in this group show. I look forward to seeing how their work develops over the coming years.

5×7: early career Australian makers‘ was at Gallery Funaki until 14th May 2016.

ps. a note on photography: there was a sign asking for no photographs; this is the first time I’ve seen this at Funaki though it is of course understandable; the above photographs were taken with explicit gallery permission





NGV visit

11 04 2016

It’s been quite some time (15months) since I last visited the National Gallery of Victoria to specifically look for the contemporary jewellery display.

Given it had been a while, I felt I had something of an expectation to see a change in the display.

It’s not obvious … perhaps there may have been one or two swap outs-ins … though the majority looked to be same to me.

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

Sigh. Sad news. I’m sure there are some in storage that would love to come out!

—–

In other gallery visiting news though, nearby there was an amazing exhibit.
Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, ‘clinamen‘, 2013

What an unexpected and complete joy.

A pump gently (and silently) moves the water so that the differently-sized porcelain bowls to clink into each other … the sound is so peaceful and beautiful, transcendental.

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

photographs taken under gallery conditions, including no flash

This was my highlight of the level 3 visit.





Repair -v- remake

10 04 2016

You may know the dread … when you receive an email (or call) from a gallery you sell jewellery through, that a piece has come in for ‘repair’. Horrid scary word: repair.

I received just this request recently from the most excellent Lord Coconut … a client had brought in a pair of my Onyx cufflinks which had broken after only a few wears.

The horror. As this pair was in my first collection for the gallery, I had visions of my soldering to be to blame. I had visions of all my cufflinks needing to be repaired (an overreaction, but it happened).

Weirdly, it seems that the failure was actually the base of the (manufactured) bezel. Though it must be said that it was a relief that it wasn’t my soldering.

In fact, the part of the bezel base that failed was where I had soldered (seemingly magnificently) the cufflink stirrup fitting to the bottom. See in the below photograph – just completely ripped the metal away (and strangely without buckling the metal back at all); that missing little square of metal is solidly adhered to the stirrup on the now-unattached cufflink fitting.

back of broken bezel ... after I'd unset the weave and perspex (hence the mangled edge)

back of broken bezel … after I’d unset the weave and perspex (hence the mangled edge)

Totally unpredictable, and in fact I cannot even conceive that the base could be torn away like this. The metal is thin (I use manufactured bezels for these pieces; it’s the significant compromise I made/agreed to keep to a low customer-end price-point) … but still.

So anyway … I haven’t made cufflinks for over two years. I have no studio. And effectively, due to the construction of these pieces, it is a full remake, there’s no ‘repair’ about it.

You can imagine my total relief when my fabulous old studio buddy said I could pop in and use her bench and tools and things. I love awesome people.

And it all went smoothly. Well, when I say smoothly, but I did have to remake both cufflinks, as the bezel on the unbroken cufflink was higher than any bezels I had at hand – see how much wider the old, unbroken (right), bezel setting is in the image below, compared to the new (left) one. In fact, you can also see the thinness of the bezel fold on the right side of the old cufflink, that thing was at risk of failure if knocked in the wrong spot …

new on left, old on right ... note different bezel set thicknesses ... boo

new on left, old on right … note different bezel set thicknesses … boo

… so the client has a whole new set of sassy cufflinks.

Hoorah! I wish him many more years of enjoyment and wearing these.

new cufflinks (with previous weave)

new cufflinks (with original weave)





thoughts on ‘Unclasped’ @ Hellenic Museum

26 02 2016

I’m terribly disappointed that an intense period of (office) work has meant that I’ve not been able to revisit the Unclasped‘ exhibition at The Hellenic museum yet. I’m not able to go next week either … but I wanted to write a few thoughts I’ve had on it:

> I was glad to be able to get some time a few weeks ago to see Emeritus Professor Robert Baines’s lecture

  • the first part was a high-speed jaunt through some aspects of the jewellery of ‘Magna Grecia’, especially of the High classical era; this is Baines’s specialty and he knows it intimately
  • the second part was a simple reading through the artists’ statements – I was a little disappointed, as I could read them myself and I was truly hoping his experienced mind and eye would draw connections between the ancient works and the exhibition at hand; I expect he was being diplomatic and didn’t want to make comments that could be construed as critical (in the difficult awkward sense)
  • one point I found most interesting was how the ancient Greek jewellers were apparently obsessed with perfection, as the society at large was, however the back of their jewellery was hobbled together; “it’s a mess” as Baines pronounced with humour; the example he showed was an outrageously ornate object, but the components were connected together by tied gold wire at the back; this seems to be all about facade, about show only (which in no way does it qualify as ‘perfection’ to me!)
  • later he briefly discussed the work of the exhibition organiser Dr Nicole Polentas, which he’s also very familiar with (being Nicole’s PhD supervisor)… and he pointed out that she always chooses to show her work in photographs with front and back – the back being as important as the front ; she often shows them in the round in exhibitions, so viewers can see the beauty of the considered construction
  • … do you see how interesting the juxtaposition of these two points is? it seems to be a great difference in that modern jewellers prefer their entire piece to have integrity, it’s not just about ‘front’ or ‘show’

> There was a less-than-complimentary review of the exhibition in The Age newspaper

  • Questions of identity are central to policing and court procedure, and, so it seems, for RMIT PhD graduate and jeweller…“: “so it seems” reads as very dismissive and disrespectful, especially given how the jeweller in question writes at length about the importance of identity in her work; comparing this aspect of an artistic practice (and by the way, a means of expressing something incredibly personal) to the court system is more than unkind, it’s unnecessary
  • “… like the show itself, an awkward mix of the programmatic and the intuitive; the accomplished and the unresolved“: well of course; it’s a mixed show of emerging, early-, mid-career and established makers; further, it’s an exhibition of pieces collected from makers, not set with an initial/invitational concept, and so variation is to be expected and embraced
  • “Unfortunately, Unclasped includes plenty of what I think of as “amplified” jewellery: jewellery that is loud – and about as subtle as a knuckleduster.” : interesting … from my initial visit I think it’s fair to say many of the pieces are indeed bold, though the simile used here is (it seems deliberately) unflattering
  • “Life is noisy: jewellery doesn’t have to be.“: jewellery can so be noisy, the maker gets to choose what they want to make and show; this is a matter of taste and opinion, and not genuine (or helpful) critique … but I must remember that everyone has a right to their opinion

After reading the article I’m even more disappointed I’m unable to revisit the exhibition, to spend more time considering (and then writing about) the work.

I’ll be away (offline) for a little while … but hopefully I’ll be able to get to see its last week.

Unclasped: Discovering Contemporary Greek Jewellery‘ is at Hellenic Museum until 3rd April 2016.





‘Unclasped’ @ Hellenic Museum, preview

4 02 2016

Just a few photographs from the Unclasped‘ opening at Hellenic Museum … how wonderful!

photograph taken with prior permission

photograph taken with prior permission

I will write more when I have a chance to inspect the lovely jewellery closer, and think a little more about it.

photograph taken with prior permission

photograph taken with prior permission

I plan to visit again next Friday for Robert Baines lecture.

photograph taken with prior permission

photograph taken with prior permission

Unclasped: Discovering Contemporary Greek Jewellery‘ is at Hellenic Museum until 3rd April 2016.





Upcoming: ‘Unclasped’ @ Hellenic Museum

23 01 2016

It’s not usual for me to write a special post to talk about an upcoming exhibition … but I like to do this for friends from my RMIT days.

Dr Nicole Polentas … yes, she’s a Doctor now! … is curating an exhibition that will shortly open at Hellenic Museum in Melbourne.

Unclasped: Discovering Contemporary Greek Jewellery‘ is “an exhibition of contemporary jewellery objects, bringing together and examining the practices of twenty-two artists of Greek descent currently working in Greece, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Cyprus and Australia.

The exhibition aims to provide a platform for contemporary thought in order to highlight the work of both established and emerging international Greek artists.

Exploring the connections between the manufacture and the act of wearing jewellery, the works encompass a wide variety of contemporary jewellery making techniques and mediums; expressing the diverse nature of modern jewellery practice within the Hellenic diaspora.

Exhibiting Jewellers: Aggelika Diplari, Akis Goumas, Anastasia Kandaraki, Artemis Valsamaki, Christina Karakalpaki, Constantinos Kyriacou, Danae Natsis, Demitra Thomloudis, Dimitris Nikolaidis, Efharis Alepedis, Erato Kouloubi, George Giannoutsos, Ismini Pachi, Liana Pattihis, Mala Siamptani, Maria Tsimpiskaki, Nicole Polentas, Niki Stylianou, Poly Nikolopoulou, Vicky Kanellopoulos, Vivi Touloumidi and Zeta Tsermou

[text from Hellenic Museum site]

The exhibition will run from 6th February to 3rd April 2016, and there are many associated events such as artist floor talks.

Check out Nicole’s facebook page for progress shots of the amazing exhibition space (designed by Christopher Earl Milbourne) and events.

exhibition media

exhibition media

exhibition media

exhibition media

Get along … I expect to see you there!

Please also see:





Emma Fielden ‘Iota’ @ Gallery Funaki

26 11 2015

It was such an absolute pleasure to finally see Emma Fielden‘s work in person in Iota‘ at Gallery Funaki.

Wow. Just wow.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

“At the centre of my practice is the notion of infinity. The ideas that any line drawn is a mere portion of its infinite potential, and that a mark made is a part within a whole, are fundamental beginnings in my work, which I explore through drawing and objects, in various materials and techniques.” EF, 2015

I was exceptionally interested in seeing the handwritten ‘Infinite‘ drawings, that I’d responded to (incredibly strongly) via images from her Sydney exhibition earlier this year. Even more amazing than I expected.

For some reason I thought that the drawings were built up of little circles; but now realise that it is the number 3 repeated … in a secular meditation on the repeating decimal representation of 1/3 … and being in a triptych, together the three complete to a singular ‘one’.

Make sure you read Emma’s own explanation on her website – which of course, as per usual, I only read after writing the above(!): “The work references devotional religious acts and is itself a devotional act.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

The brooches and vessels were a revelation. And smaller than I expected; in the good way, for I like smaller things.

If you visit, please make sure you ask for her technique to be explained. While the pieces are most definitely beautiful in their own right, I believe understanding their construction … the intense precision freedom involved … can only add to their appeal.

Initially I was a wondering if perhaps a perfectly circular (or other geometric) edge shape would align and reflect with the overall concept of infinity … for somehow I have a view, not unlike our ancient and medieval forefathers, that infinite must mean perfect. Perhaps also because I saw perfect geometry in her other Infinity pieces. However I let go of that requirement when I was told that Emma actually makes her own ingots and shapes then to make the plate for the brooches, in many/most cases permitting the edges to form as they choose … another practice I relate to.

I really did want to take some home, especially ‘The Jewel (after James Wright)‘ and the one that looks like an opened clam. Do have a look at the detailed photographs … you can see how the surface detail is formed by repeated engraving. They are a marvel.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

And vessels! There should be more vessels in the world I tell you.

Axis Mundi is also an important component of the exhibition. I think perhaps my aversion to shiny-shiny interrupted my contemplation … the mirror is important, for it reflects the construction into an infinity … the vision is coherent, the installation takes hours and hours (nay, days!). Of course the mirror makes total sense … though I have a thing about mirrors … (this is usually where one says ‘it’s not you, it’s me’).

It’s pretty obvious I respond strongly to Emma’s work … the reflections on the infinite … the implicit and intuitive mathematical fundamentals … the devotion … the mediation, obsession, attention to detail, commitment … quiet determination … there is an exceptional clarity that I can only wish for.

Emma Fielden ‘Iota‘ is at Gallery Funaki until 5th December 2015.