SNAG Conference 2014

I know, and I apologise for leaving you in the lurch about the final days of my Mexico trip, but, well, TIME! Who’s go it? I promise to get to that, and to a slightly late Deadlines post as soon as I get back.

From where? Well, I’m off to the 2014 SNAG conference in Minneapolis, helpfully subtitled From Grains to Gold. I’ll see if that title relates to anything and get back to you.. So if you need me, or are keen to see what happens at one of these things, please head over to my Twitter page, and I’ll try keep us all updated – #SNAG or probably #SNAG2014. And if you’re at Snag, please come say hi!


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The need to rename Craft – a gender issue?

Here’s a little thought that has been worming inside my head ever since I read this article in my blog stream. It’s a half-formed argument, but that’s what a blog is for, right?…

This article on the design history online publication Unmaking Things is really interesting. Thanks Caterina Tiezzi for making my brain work, forging little connections here and there about different issues that have been published online about Craft of late (especially this one – Craft Identity Statement as it implies that the definition is somehow broken.) There has been a lot of noise on the subject, and obviously by my use of noise back there, I don’t think that the articles, nor their attempts at determining a way forward, have been clear, or useful.

In her article Craft & Technology in the Newsagent’s Shelf: A Look Through Magazines, Tiezzi sticks to provable facts. And they are very compelling. And, I’ll say it again, so interesting. In the context of the other articles that I’ve been reading, this straight forward article begs the question, why does craft have this identity confusion? Or perhaps more correctly, why do the craft the people who are around me – who are engaged in selling Craft – have confusion?

In the newsagent craft is a specific and uniformly branded thing. It’s very simple. And über feminine. Cloying, yes, childish, perhaps, but simple to grasp, as is necessary in a refined retail environment. The signs are easy to read, and as such signifier and signified are all in alignment.

In the the craft world, the one I have experience in (but pretty much refuse to get into the nitty gritty of the current arguments – there’s no time!) there’s so much confusion, so much. Everyone wants to help out the term in a way that is comprehensive and simple. Well, Tiezzi’s distillation is a dose of clarity, that could not get more simple. Do you want to be aligned with that? If you don’t, either get ready to rehabilitate the word, or get out of the craft business.

Too simplistic? Perhaps. But it’s also why, when pressed, I go with research jeweller, art jeweller, or just plain artist. It’s not cos I wanna be in the big white room up against their racket. It’s because I don’t wanna be in the little pink room with the 1/4 scale furniture.

Ya dig?

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Mexico City – The forum

Image of speakers at the 2014 Joyaviva forum in Mexico City.

Image of speakers at the 2014 Joyaviva forum in Mexico City, at the National Museum of Popular Culture.

In the evening of my second full day in Mexico City, I was invited to be one of a panel of speakers presenting different thoughts on the subject of charms and amulets. This presentation took place in a covered outdoor space at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares.

Our speakers in order were:

  • Dr. Carlos Zolla Luque: coordinador del Programa Universitario de Estudios de la Diversidad Cultural y la Interculturalidad (PUIC-UNAM)
  • Martacarmela Sotelo: (Mexican artist in Amuleto) Conceptualising ideas for their materialisation 
  • Melissa Cameron: (Australian artist in Amuleto) Contemporary jewellery in the streets of Melbourne 
  • Hanna Hedman: (Swedish artist) Amulet or talisman?
  • Kevin Murray: (Curator of Amuleto) Luck by design: The challenge of the contemporary amulet

The opening presentation was on the history and specific uses of amulets and the different motifs that crop up in their design. The most eye-opening part of Dr Zolla Luque’s presentation for me was an interesting set of statistics; reasons why people presented to their doctor/GP, in Mexico. The effects of the ‘evil eye‘ featured prominently in the shortlist, in fact was at the top, while other ailments like headaches followed.

Martacarmela spoke about her own work and her project in the exhibition, as well as about some of the others I think (perhaps also on participating in the Charm School), while I spoke about the C3 project. I talked about the idea behind it, the implementation process and the influence that being members of a collective like Part B had on the design of the project – specifically the large community of makers and recipients of charms that the Charged Charm Card project was attempting to assemble. (I’ll put my presentation up in the Symposia section of this site very shortly.)

Then Hanna spoke about her introduction to charms and amulets – she was a professional sportsperson up until her early 20′s – so she shared some personal superstitions about performance in the context of a great many other athletes that she had researched, and then the effect of Mexico on her already talisman-appearing pieces. She also spoke about her work in partnership with Otro Diseño in Mexico, the Amulet workshops that she has been presenting.

She has developed a program for her students with a relational focus. She has her students approaching unknown people in the street, in their own communities, in order to find specific things out about them. This is followed by making a piece based on the responses, that caters to their specific fears and interests. It is a lesson in both collaborative creativity as well as expansion of the network of people interested in artist-made jewellery, as they are the recipient of some works that have distinct meaning and references for them. I liked the idea as I think it a powerful way to engage the greater community – and the need to engage people outside our milieu was something that we both spoke at length on.

Finally Kevin spoke about the progress of the exhibition from his perspective, from the very first Charm Schools he conducted to the mounting of the exhibition and the shows so far.

Now hopefully I have these all figured out, since the only talk that was in English was Hanna’s (and she and I shared a very impressive translator to turn our words into Spanish) but if you were there and have anything to add or to correct me on, please send me an email or pull me up in the comments. Please!

This is post 2 of 3 of my activities in Coyoacán, so stay tuned for the next installment…

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Mexico City – Joyaviva Opening

Joyaviva - installed in Mexico City

I’m fresh back from Mexico City, where I’m proud to report the long-travelling charm show Joyaviva is now open! Or re-open, as the case may be. Last Tuesday I journeyed to Mexico City to attend the Wednesday night opening at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Coyoacán.

Joyaviva banner at the entrance to the exhibition

Opening speeches were delivered by by Tim George, the Australian Ambassador to Mexico, museum director Rodolfo Rodríguez Castañeda, Martacarmela Sotelo, one of the participating Mexican artists as well as the exhibition’s curator Dr Kevin Murray. As all of the speeches were in Spanish I assume that people only said nice things.

Image courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Image of participating artists courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Eventually it was declared open, and we got to see the show! If you’ve been following along you’ll notice the much more spare design of this iteration, which really highlights the pieces. It’s a little low on context but hopefully the catalogue will help to alleviate that. There is also a mural reproduction of market in Mexico City that is the premier destination to buy all things pertaining to good and bad luck, and on seperate occasions I was told it was a place best traversed with a local as your guide. Consequently I didn’t go – I know when I’m not wanted!

Image of the 'Luck Market' room courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Image of the ‘Luck Market’ room courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Turbo and I got into some in-depth chats with the artists about the show as well as Mexico City, a dominating topic of conversation given that we were amongst the few foreigners. I also got to hang out with the Mexican artists in the exhibition, some of whom like Lorena Lazard and Raquel Bessudo I had met before (thanks to SNAG 2013), and I also met Swedish artist Hanna Hedman, who is coincidentally in Mexico and teaching workshops about amulets there thanks to Otro Disegno. After dinner with Kevin we headed off to the studio of local artist and fellow Joyavivan Alberto, for a shot of Mezcal and some more conversation about Mexico and jewellery.

Image of the main installation courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Image of the main installation courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

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Radical Jewelry Makeover is Open!

Brass Brooch 2014.

Melissa Cameron, Brass Brooch, 2014.

I mentioned in my recent I went to Richmond post that there was a new Radical Jewelry Makeover exhibition in the works.

Last Friday this latest installment of RJM opened at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond alongside Susie Ganch’s solo exhibition, Tied. If you’re in the greater Virginia area I encourage you to get along before the 7th of June. I got to see Susie’s work in progress at her studio while I was there and she has been further pursuing the recycled material ethos, pushing it into all the corners of her practice.

For more info check out the link above as well as the RJM website, where you can also see a preview of the other of my pieces that are in the exhibition.

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Deadlines Update

As is my wont, I’ve just updated the March deadlines with a couple of juicy call-outs.

You can check it out in post that’s from the main blog stream or in the dedicated Deadlines section. I’m not going to curtail your creativity – you choose ;)


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Call for papers

Call for papers for c+de#7 (2015) is now open
(c+de#7 = craft and design enquiry, issue 7)

This call out has been on my deadlines posts for a while now, but since it’s getting closer I thought I’d give it a bigger plug, especially since the call for abstracts closes at the end of this month – 30th April 2014.

The theme for this issue has been set by the guest editor Kay Lawrence, and is “Landscape, Place and Identity in Craft and Design”.

From the site:

This issue of craft + design enquiry invites papers that explore and reflect upon these ideas about landscape, place and identity in relation to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous craft and design practice in Australia and globally. Or, to put it another way, writers might wish to consider how craft and design practitioners have employed the visual, material, spatial and temporal processes of their disciplines to interrogate questions of identity in relation to concepts of place and landscape.

There’s a lot more material about the related topics and the dates and deadlines on their website, so please go to the link above and check it out. This tiny abstract does not do the topic, nor the thoughtful presentation of it by Kay Lawrence AM, justice.

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Joyaviva Mexico


I’m heading on down to the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Mexico in a little over a week for the opening of Amuleto Joya Viva: A Través Del Pacífico, otherwise known as Joyaviva: Live Jewellery Across the Pacific. I’ll be at the opening on the 9th as well as the forum on the 10th of April, where I’m going to be speaking about the C3 project in the context of the Melbourne jewellery scene at the time of its inception.

The exhibition has been touring a while now (since opening in Melbourne in 2012) and this is my first opportunity to see it since saying goodbye in Melbourne a day or so before I left there for the Pacific Northwest. Knowing that many of the charms that Jill and I fabricated ready for action had not yet been ‘implemented’ at that stage, I’m actually keen to see what our display looks like with our new images and feedback cards.

Of course our blog entries that documented our charms movements has been updated during this time, which I encourage you to check out – especially if this talk is all a mystery to you… (And there’s more info in previous posts around here too.)

See you in Mexico!

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Deadlines March 2014

A few less this month – now we’ve passed the Ides of March ‘hump day’ which seemed to be a central vortex for a bunch of deadlines. Let me know if you’ve seen any others about.

And if you’re keen on more recent CaFE entries I encourage you to see what is being offered by checking out their site and even signing up for the email updates.

Are you in The Britain? Sign up to the benchpeg newsletter, whydoncha? They’ll send you a much more professional newsletter with this kind of material, weekly.

*** This month’s new additions*** Super new as of 2nd of April ***

Opportunities with deadlines

23rd Legnica International Jewellery Competition ‘CLASSIC’. Work to the theme, prizes ahoy! Deadline for sending works:  30th March 2014.

*** Cominelli Foundation Award 2014. Deadline 31.Mar.2014.

*** Wallowa Valley Festival of Arts, juriedexhibition. Deadline – 1st April 2014.

Workshop: Liquid Enamel for Steel and Copper. Come learn to enamel on steel with ME! Weekend class takes place on the 5th and 6th of April, 2014 at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle. Enroll here! Cancelled!! We’ll try again later in the year…

TOP Jewels – National Jewelry Design Exhibition, “A showcase featuring the very best artists working in the medium of jewelry design to educate the public about their craft.” USA only exhibition opportunity, entries through CaFE. Deadline April 11th 2014.

*** Uniques 2014. SNAG is doing a second volume of their Uniques sale on Etsy, this time in tandem with writers. Entries accepted until April 12, 2014.

*** 2014 Neddy at Cornish Call for Applications Now Open. Seattle – greater Puget Sound region. Deadline 20th April  2014.

*** Curator of Fine Metalwork and Exhibitions Manager, The Metal Museum, Memphis. MA’s or PhD’s required. No deadline – sooner rather than later though I’d say.

*** Harpo Foundation Grants for under-recognised Visual Artists. (Nope, not THAT Harpo…) Americans only. Deadline May 6, 2014.

BKV Prize for Young Applied Arts. 9th May 2014.

New Traditional Jewellery 2014. As a part of the SIERAAD arts fair in Amsterdam, this competition has taken ‘ CONFRONTATIONS’ as the 2014 theme. Registration due 1st June 2014.

The Halstead Grant Call for Entries. “The Halstead Grant is awarded each year to a promising new jewelry designer working primarily in silver.” Deadline June 9, 2014.

*** Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery. Applications close 18 June 2014 (11:59pm, Australian Eastern Standard Time. That’s a day ahead of you US peeps.)

Call for papers for c+de#7 (2015) NOW OPEN:“Landscape, Place and Identity in Craft and Design”. Guest Edited by Kay Lawrence. (c+de#7 = Craft and Design enquiry issue 7). The Call for Papers for this issue is now open and will close on 30 June 2014.

*** Harpo Foundation Grants – Emerging Artist Fellowship (residency). (Still not THAT Harpo…) Americans only. Deadline July 5, 2014.

*** Koru 5. Triennial event organized by Finnish Jewellery Art Association. DEADLINE for applications is 1.8.2014. (That’s the 1st of August for you Americans ;) )

Rolling + Undated Opportunities

Assistantships, Residencies, Volunteering & Employment at Touchstone Center for Crafts, Farmington, PA.

PORTFOLIO AND EXHIBITION PROPOSALS FOR LINCOLN CENTER ART GALLERIES – entry via CaFE, but instructions on the linked site (hint, scroll down).

The Peoria Art Guild. “Currently accepting submissions, and are sending out a call to artists, around the world and at all stages in their careers, to submit their portfolios for consideration.”

Commissioners’ Choice Invitational Lone Tree Arts Center.- entry via CaFE, but instructions on the linked site (hint, scroll down).

Contemporary Metal in Perth have updated their class timetable and there is some great stuff on offer. Check it!

Dallas County Community College District – Visiting Artist for our Art Metals Summer Workshop in Summer 2014.

Tributaries: Call for entries. The Metal Museum, in Memphis, has an ongoing call for exhibitions from emerging and mid-career artists. First deadline Feb 2013, for upcoming shows, and they keep applications on file for 2 years.

The Imperial Centre for the Arts + Sciences in North Carolina have a permanent exhibition call out, with shows booked 2-3 years in advance.

And finally

There’s this Art Prize Website for Aussie artists, where you can sign up for regular updates.

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Put a pod on it

I don’t know if I have mentioned my love of podcasts here before? I don’t think I have. It’s what I do. I make jewellery in the afternoons, and listen to people talk.

I was listening to a favourite today, 99% Invisible with Roman Mars. It’s a design podcast, and it’s chock full of ‘aha’ moments – you know, that point when someone links two phenomena that you were already familiar with and explains how they’re interrelated or interdependent?  I love those moments. It’s the awe of pure learning.

This latest episode though really spoke to my heart, as it echoed back what I found out about the quatrefoil during my MFA research. One at a time, I’ve probably strung over a thousand of these shapes in my jewellery works. And hell, any podcast that name-checks Owen Jones gets two thumbs up.

Middle Ages #5 from The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, 1856. Scan from, 2006. Sourced 2009

Middle Ages #5 from The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones, 1856. Scan from, 2006. Sourced 2009 (notice how he even arranged his crosses into a cross shape? Attention to detail, y’all!)

And then Alex Sandifer (@Refidnas) in the comments section of that page has linked a clip to Sesame Street; because of the connection to Jones’ works by the ‘Street animators. See what I mean about the ‘aha’?

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