‘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





The last word on the Ashmolean

24 03 2016

I was lucky enough to get a ticket on a rare tour of the conservation department in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

It was incredible to see what goes on behind the scenes in caring for objects.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

Above: restoration of The Great Bookcase by William Burges.

Below: painstaking restoration of a crewel-work bed hanging, representing the tree of life …. if memory serves, from the 18th century I think. Years of work have gone into this to date, and there’s more to do; I hope in a few years time to revisit the Ashmolean to see it all done and on display.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

After the visit, I was looking at exhibits with new eyes … thinking about what it takes to keep the objects in beautiful condition.

Like the below … imagine being the person responsible for polishing ALL that silver (and more) and keeping the environment in the case to minimise tarnish.

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash

photograph taken under museum conditions, no flash





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.





Farewell, you gorgeous thing

25 10 2015

I’ve written a number of times before about old works … pieces we’ve made, hold on to, unwilling to throw away but aware that equally we don’t actually want to keep them for we don’t like them, they don’t say what we wanted them to, we’ve moved on, etc.

With the benefit of time (it’s almost nine years since I made this piece) I’m ready to let go of ‘Scale‘ (from my third year at RMIT).

I have photographs I’ll treasure, but I no longer need the object – it just takes up space and I don’t have it on display.

Scale, 2006

Scale, 2006

I adored making it. I loved researching and drawing for it. Planning it. Obsessing about it.

I’m planning on giving it to someone to re-purpose the metal (stainless steel, aluminium, monel) … for a new life.





Gold of The Hochdorf Prince

11 10 2015

Documentaries … they’re just the best, right?

Recently I was indulging in my wont to watch documentaries on art and history, particularly a new BBC show ‘The Celts: Iron, Blood and Sacrifice … with Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver‘, and my eyes have been opened to the amazing Hochdorf Prince (from the Iron Age, about 550BCE).

Look at his shoes!

Not strictly shoes as we know it, but decoration on (what are assumed to have been) leather shoes. Too gorgeous.

screen shot of documentary

screen shot of documentary

screen shot of documentary

screen shot of documentary

Naturally I searched the internets for more information …

  • he’s famous for the many other artefacts (including a rather massive cauldron) he was buried with, many of which are shown in reproduction at a museum near where he was uncovered
  • of course, Wiki ; though it’s a bit light-on to be frank
  • most fabulously, another documentary covering similar territory – but this one is from the mid-80s and has dated poorly; the moustaches in the reenactments had me in giggle fits
from Wiki; click on image for original source

from Wiki; click on image for original source (image credit: Rosemania, see Wiki for more details)

There just isn’t enough gold shoe-decorations nowadays.
Or massive cauldrons.





2015 Contemporary Australian Silver & Metalwork Award @ Castlemaine Art Gallery

7 10 2015

It was the most stunning Spring day when I took a drive into the countryside to Castlemaine, to see the latest episode of the important Buda prize: the ‘2015 Contemporary Australian Silver & Metalwork Award‘ at the Castlemaine Art Gallery.

photograph taken with gallery permission

photograph taken with gallery permission

Awards (see gallery page for beautiful photographs):

  • (professional) The Leviny Commemorative award: Daehoon Kang … this is an amazing vessel, with the most stunning counter-balancing design and gorgeous surface treatment
  • (professional) Arts Centre Melbourne Silver award: Janine Tanzer … the shape and decorative elements harking back to the height of the roaring 20s
  • (professional) The Australian Decorative and Fine Art Societies Emerging artist award: Maureen Faye-Chauhan … strongly geometric pieces (as per her recent exhibition)
  • (professional) The Australian Decorative and fine Art Society of Yarra Anniversary award: Joungmee Do … the most exceptional, outrageous, jubilant object (below image)
  • (student / recent graduates) e.g.etal Design & Development award: Yu Fang Chi … incredibly delicate, almost like fairy-floss
  • (student / recent graduates) A & E Metals award: Larah Nott … her smithing pieces won her this award, though I especially liked the precision of her neckpiece
  • (student / recent graduates) Gold & Silversmithing Guild of Australia award: Kimba Pham … proving that scale isn’t necessary to show exceptional design and handskills
Joungmee Do's piece ; photograph with gallery permission

Joungmee Do’s piece ; photograph with gallery permission

This gallery is a much more deserving place for this exhibition … the previous venue in Bendigo wasn’t quite right (though should have received many visitors), and Buda (though a lovely home) was almost not quite grand enough. It’s pleasing for these objects to be positioned in an art gallery, in a room adjacent to a colonial collection. Perhaps it’s the traditionalist in me, but I think this space elevates the pieces, and hopefully it does this for visitors (particularly those who’ve not come to the gallery especially to see this exhibition).

photograph with gallery permission

photograph with gallery permission

Of course I particularly like to see the larger scale smithing objects in this exhibition – for me the first vitrine was wonderful (first image above). There are not as many shows for this oeuvre as there is for jewellery, so it’s a joy to see them playing with each other. Most especially I was pleased to see less highly polished surfaces this year, and perhaps more diversity of materials.

2015 Contemporary Australian Silver & Metalwork Award‘ is at Castlemaine Art Gallery until 18th October 2015.

See also:

Check out the article in The Age too :  ‘Craft review: Contemporary Australian silver and metalwork dazzles‘ … the author makes an interesting point about six of the seven award winners being women.

More photographs below (not published above to save load times):

Read the rest of this entry »





‘Electric’ @ Craft

14 09 2015

It doesn’t happen often that I wander into an exhibition space not knowing what’s on there. Though it happened this weekend, when I was wandering Flinders Lane and thought to visit Craft, even though I couldn’t for the life of me remember what was showing.

Electric‘ is showing and it was something of a revelation.

installation photograph

installation photograph

Participating artists:

  • Alterfact (Ben Landau and Lucile Sciallano) [website]
  • Mark Edgoose [website]
  • Douglas McManus
  • Bin Dixon-Ward [website] with Jon Osbourne

Exhibition media: “Through a combination of artists, materials and ways of making Electric maps the collaboration of the handmade with digital technology. Crafted objects across metals, plastics, ceramics and textiles engage the body in participatory gallery experiences with installations referencing interaction, wearability and function.

installation photograph

installation photograph; Alterfact

The exhibition may look sparse, but each of the four exhibits are amazing.

My favourite were the pieces by Alterfact (image above), which were 3D printed from Southern Ice Porcelain. Absolutely gorgeous! I wanted to take some home, but the ones I really wanted were all already sold. I especially liked the group that had some wiggly lines and were slightly wonky … as though they’ve been made from yarn that’s been worked and used and reused over and over again … perhaps the machine has a small kniption; they’re beautiful in their imperfection.

installation photograph; Douglas McManus

installation photograph; Douglas McManus

Make sure you read the exhibition page on Craft’s site, as it has a lot of detail from each artist.

There’s a lot to think about with the combination of technologies and making … it’s something I’ve been wondering about for a little while now, even though I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about it and what it means for ‘hand made’…

Electric‘ is at Craft until 3rd October 2015.