Caz Guiney @ Personal Space Project

6 02 2014

This is my first review-from-afar of an exhibition. Sounds strange doesn’t it? Is it possible even? Well, this post will go some way as to tell if I can do it justice.

Regular readers are familiar with my admiration for Zoe Brand – the lady is a visionary. She has set up a gallery in her bedroom: Personal Space Project. If you don’t already know about it, you must.

The current show (for the month of February) is work by Caz Guiney.

exhibition media; click on image for original source; used with permission

exhibition media; click on image for original source; used with permission

How beautiful is the display? I love it.

Zoe documents the exhibition so wonderfully with images on her website that I think I have a feel enough for it to be able to write a little about it, even though I haven’t visited the space in person. If there were many more items, and the space larger than could fit in one photograph, then I would suggest the task of getting a feel for the cohesiveness of the work would be quite difficult. Thankfully it’s perfectly compact and made accessible.

I was especially intrigued by the introduction in the exhibition text: “In this work Guiney explores the difficult and perhaps even ethical situation that many jewellers face; what do you do when you have a potential goldmine just casually tucked away in boxes under your bed?

that's my name don't wear it out  (2014); image used with permission; click on image for original source

that’s my name don’t wear it out (2014); image used with permission; click on image for original source

More of the exhibition media: “This series examines the process of revisiting old jewellery projects and explores the possibility of liberating them from the archival tissue, the zip lock bag and bubble wrap to give them another opportunity to shine, communicate and tell stories. The particular project from which these works have been emancipated is Precious Nothing (2008)…

And seriously beautiful new art objects these are.

I especially love the one above; the composition is fabulous with all the young fellows admiring their friend’s swanky chest adornment. It’s like he’s saying: ‘yeah, I know, it is pretty ace isn’t it’ … and feeling all proud of himself that he’s made his mates envious … and stuff …

(left) i know you are but what am i (2014) & (right) your dumb and i'm not (2014); used with permission; click on image for original source

(left) i know you are but what am i (2014) & (right) your dumb and i’m not (2014); used with permission; click on image for original source

The titles are adorably childish and viciously insightful; given the looks on the faces of the children you couldn’t think of a better title when you see them. I remember saying things just like that to my family when I was a kid. So naughty. And I like that cheekiness combined with the black and white somewhat dorky images (from knitting patterns), succulents for colour and the gold for a grown-up touch. And I’m pretty sure I ate party foods from plates just like those as the same age.

I’m quite taken by these. You can tell, I know.

Adoration aside, I too regularly wonder what on earth I should do with some of the pieces I’ve made – especially those I’m not proud of or no longer like. I once had vague delusions of grandeur that I would hold onto them in case of some imaginary future retrospective when I become totally famous. Pft.

As that’s really not going to happen, questions are perpetually on my mind about what to do with all the pieces. I am a minimalist and do like to clear things away regularly; I don’t like to own objects that don’t fit a purpose, with aesthetics being one of the most important purposes of all.

I can’t imagine how this would weigh on a maker’s mind if they had more than I do (I would say I have relatively little), and where gold and more precious materials have been used (most of mine is just silver).

I’m all for makers repurposing their pieces if the result is going to be as stunning as this work or if it opens a new window on another way of viewing their practice. Start with that route; the experimentation alone is valuable experience.

But if that doesn’t quite work out, I would seriously recommend documenting the piece (photographs and sketches and even the story behind it) and then melting away – it makes room for more new work, and releases some funds too. That is in fact a large part of why I’ve documented my RMIT pieces on this blog – once that was done I felt more able to let some of those pieces go and be melted away.

Caz Guiney is at Personal Space Project (Canberra and online) for the month of February 2014. Zoe’s writing about Caz’s work is most definitely worth your reading (more than mine I dare say).

Fixed cufflinks

16 09 2013

A little while back I made a group of cufflinks for Lord Coconut, but I wasn’t happy with the bezel finish.

I’ve reset them (after a recent breakthrough) and am much happier now!

sterling silver, tiffany blue, mother of pearl, navy; image not to be reproduced without permission

sterling silver, tiffany blue, mother of pearl, navy; image not to be reproduced without permission

Yes, they do look better.

Reworking: Avebury

19 06 2013

I’ve mused and written quite a bit about recycling and reworking old pieces. Recently I finally reworked one of the pieces from my RMIT days.

My ‘Avebury‘ pendant from the Longing‘ jewellery project of second year has always had a special place in my heart. However I have never liked the chain and could not see me wearing it as a pendant.

reworked Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

reworked Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

While I may make jewellery, I do have a special attraction to small objects … so I made a little stand for the pendant. It’s only a quick mock-up (the brass reflects the gold), but it has pride of place in my living room … so I may see its gorgeousness every day.

I love the image below too … brooding Avebury.

reworked Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

reworked Avebury; image not to be reproduced without permission

‘Once More, with Love’ @ Northcity4

21 02 2013

Ooh, you must get along to ‘Once More, with Love‘ at Northcity4, it’s amazing and inspiring.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

Media: “Once More, With Love’ is a not-for-profit travelling jewellery exhibition exploring concepts of sustainability, recycling and ethical production. The project involves over 30kg of unwanted jewellery items donated by the Australian public which have been reworked ‘with love’ by a diverse selection of twenty one contemporary jewellers. The works created for Once More, With Love propose a potential new life cycle for materials, while creating space for reflecting on their origins.

The Once More, With Love project was started in 2010 by Suse Scholem. Suse was inspired by the activities of the American group Ethical Metalsmiths, who have significantly increased ethical/sustainability awareness in the American jewellery industry.  Once More, With Love grew as the number of jewellers involved increased, and Simon Cottrell,  took on the role of co-curator.

Make sure you read the website for much more information and back story; and images of the work and the process to make them (fabulous!).

I visited the exhibition with a dear friend [see her post] who had donated some of the jewellery in the mystery bags – it was such a delight for her to see some of her unwanted pieces being used in new interpretations.

photograph taken with permission

photograph taken with permission

Each jeweller was given a bag of no-longer-wanted jewellery to remake into new jewels. A photograph of the ‘bag of goodies’ is displayed alongside the new pieces – a brilliant idea, as part of the fun for me was looking for the origin of each component.

I found it so interesting that I was able to identify many of the jewellers’ works without seeing their name (on the fabulously recycled displays) – I’m sure that’s to do with my increased knowledge of jewellers’ oeuvre.

There were many examples of direct use of the materials in the goodie-bags. Other more intriguing uses of the original objects includes melting of plastic components, grinding of semi-precious stones into powder to use as dye, and most exceptionally melting of metal into new shapes.

If you haven’t had a look at Ethical Metalsmiths, do take some time. I remember seeing two of the founders at a conference, and distinctly remember the advice of making jewellery in such a way that it would be easier to deconstruct and reuse in the future. With this in mind, especially at this exhibition, I noticed some of the reinterpreted pieces were made in such a way that they were no longer able to be reused themselves in the future – an interesting juxtaposition for me. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the work, but it was quite a debate in my mind.


photograph taken with permission

Participating artists (in alphabetical order):

Quite a lot has been written about this exhibition, as it has already been shown in Sydney at Studio 20/17 and in Canberra at Bilk. There’s a great press page on the OMWL website; also HandMadeLife, WearableArtBlog and Joyaviva.

As the exhibition is traveling, note that some pieces have already been sold and may not make it to the next destination (though some collectors are permitting the pieces to travel).

Once More, with Love‘ is at Northcity4 until 2nd March 2013.

Update (21st February): there is a related workshop this weekend at Northcity4 … maybe you’d like to join in? Suse will be joined by Emma Grace (of Treasury workshop fame) to host a workshop where “participants will have the opportunity to deconstruct recycled jewellery and under the guidance of Emma and Suse, create a completely new piece of jewellery to take home. Materials and tools will be provided.” It’s so great to see these two powerhouses of sustainable practice collaborating!


26 09 2012

Another outcome of my recent organisation was that I’ve decided which pieces to ‘recycle’. Essentially, these the metal in these will be sold to a metal merchant for ‘refining’ (melting down and reuse).

image not to be reproduced without permission

It’s a funny thing – but I now think I’ve had enough time and space from my degree at RMIT to be ready to destroy these pieces. As I’ve mused before, these pieces aren’t representative and I don’t like them enough to even keep them. They are adequately documented and I’m ready to let them go.

In the end, I decided to hold off the execution of the brooch and have it sitting as a little sculpture on my book-stand for the time being.

While I was deconstructing the ring, I was impressed with myself with the construction quality – go me! Also, I was also pretty chuffed with the fitting on the neckpiece, so will keep that too.

It was a pretty cathartic experience really … letting go is often a good thing.

A separate group is those that will be re-worked, where an element of the piece will be made into something else. More when I get around to working on them … which could be a long while yet.


21 09 2012

I love organising. I love being organised.

My RMIT jewellery drawers have been consolidated and reorganised. Each piece is now wrapped in acid-free paper and in a little zip-lock bag with a photo of the piece for easy identification – nothing worse than having to unwrap everything to find the one piece you’re looking for.

organised drawer

Organisation nerd.

As part of this exercise, I’ve decided which pieces are candidates for recycling and reworking – I’ll write more about that another time.

Rework or recycle?

3 08 2012

I’ve been thinking more and more about reworking or recycling (melting down) some of the pieces I made in my early years at university.

These are pieces I have squirreled away and will never (never ever!) wear or show … and it is extremely unlikely they will ever be included in any retrospective exhibition of my awesome career (funny!).

The years have passed, I have documented them adequately, and I am no longer as sentimentally attached to some of them. Some of these I just plain dislike.

There are some pieces I already have some creative ideas about reworking … and some I think I’ll just melt down for the metal value (I’ve been influenced by recent discussions about sustainable practice).

Have you kept all of your earlier pieces? What are your thoughts about repurposing pieces that are utterly unused (and perhaps even unliked!)?