Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box

Image of Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box - pre transformation
Image of Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box – pre transformation

In answer to a reader question; yes, the material that makes the work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box is all from Tanya’s old lunch box, barring the stainless steel rivets, c-shaped connections, chain (handmade and otherwise) and cable that joins the altered parts together.

In fact there’s actually a few parts missing. The plastic handle and chrome fittings are not part of the design, and there is a series of five small pins (about 27 x 4mm each) that are not part of the installation. One of these I have kept (not a habit of mine, but these were particularly meaningful to me, in a piece that became surprisingly personal over the course of the design and making), and four were given to Micki before the piece was installed.

What you can’t see in this image is the hinge pin that was removed, the handle tethers, and an internal feature meant to hold a thermos flask in place in the top section of the box (it was roughly the shape of the stylized ‘V’ on the front.) All this was wire, in approximately 1.5 – 2mm diameter steel, which was cut up, drilled into, enameled and re-joined to make the chain that holds the big ‘snowflake’ section in the centre.

Detail image of work My House - Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel.
Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of the lunch box, stainless steel, vitreous enamel.

My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box

Installation image of My House- Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel.
Installation image of My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel. 2016

Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box

Micki Lippe gave me the lunch box that used to belong to her daughter. She also gave me a book of poetry written by Tanya, published posthumously. Together they formed a commission; use one to make the other into something, which at least would get the old black relic out of the basement.

As an implement, a lunch box suggests forward planning, nourishment, and the day-to-day banality of life. But without its rightful owner? As an inheritance, the container became a reliquary. Though less tangible, the poems are a more instructive fragment of her life. They reference her – her feelings, her body. Yet her eyes never saw nor skin touch the bound object.

The box’s meaning again shifted when transferred into my hands, radically. Through reinterpretation it is now literally intertwined with the poetry of Tanya’s life, its former narrative burden becoming the liberator of its form.


This work is currently installed at the Bellevue Arts Museum as a part of BAM Biennial 2016: Metalmorphosis.

Forget Them


“There are no angels, demons, or ghosts. Immaterial spirits of any kind do not exist. The creatures with which the Greek and Roman imagination populated the world—Fates, harpies, demons, genii, nymphs, satyrs, dryads, celestial messengers, and the spirits of the dead—are entirely unreal. Forget them.”
– Lucretius

Yet it seems that despite our best efforts, we can’t. This show examines humankind’s perennial struggle between personal autonomy and spiritual guidance, and how these ideas manifest and inspire the fabrication of physical objects. All cultures throughout the ages have taken abstract concepts like gods, demons, imps, and spirits and translated them into material items that are often housed in esteemed spaces. Shrines that celebrate, amulets that protect, and totems that commemorate these enduring theologies and phenomenons. Perhaps the most resilient form of piety, the belief that objects imbued with spiritual reverence might protect or reward the owner withstands the test of time, often despite our better judgment.

Forget Them is an exhibition of “Talismans, amulets, shrines, and charms that have been created to wear, carry, or look upon. These objects convey a specific power, intend to protect against superstition, or commemorate.” curated by Steven Gordon Holman, Brian Weissman and Erin S. Daily, currently on at Brooklyn Metal Works. My collaboration with Jill Hermans, the Charged Charm Cards, are on display, and, as you can see above, we’re in illustrious company 🙂 Check it out until the 27th of November.


In today’s Seattle Times

Detail image of work My House - Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of a section of Tanya's lunch box and stainless steel.
Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of a section of Tanya’s lunch box and stainless steel.

An article entitled: Transforming metal: ‘Metalmorphosis’ exhibit at BAM shows new possibilities by Gayle Clemans was published in the Seattle Times newspaper today. It’s a review of the Metalmorphosis exhibition at the Bellevue Arts Museum here in Seattle, and features an image of part of my installation My House: Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box (the print version has a large reproduction of the brooch section of my piece next to the article – online it’s in a slide section, of the image included above) as well as an insightful commentary about Micki Lippe‘s work, among others.

As you might have guessed I was pretty chuffed when I found out, doubly so as the news came via an excited email from Micki this morning!

And yes, for those of you yet to see the show or not familiar with local jewellery doyenne Micki Lippe, Tanya is the name of Micki’s daughter. I’m not trying to tease with my lack of details – in fact there’s been some descriptions in Instagram of the work – but I’ve been refraining from posting full images of the installation until Micki has seen it, as due to other commitments she missed the openings at the start of the month.

Right, I’m off, to go get a copy of the newspaper 😉

Being in the world

I’ve found a couple of things:

1/ Auction for Aid – raising funds for the Refugee/Migrant Crisis

Like their About page on Facebook says, they are an “Auction For Aid – Contemporary Jewellery Auction to benefit the refugee crisis.” A bunch of UK based jewellers, (amounts are in GBP) are auctioning off some pretty great looking work on Facebook (yes, you do seem to need an account to bid) that will post/ship internationally.

Welcome to the 2016 Auction For Aid. All money raised will be going to two charities, MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) and SALAM LADC (‘Salam: LADC’ stands for ‘Peace: Lebanese Association for Development and Communication’), both charities doing wonderful work to help with the current refugee crisis.

2/ Alliages – The contemporary art jewelery agenda

Finally! An interactive calendar for jewellery events! Look out for deadline info there, and add your own to boot.

The jewelery agenda, the place you can see the contemporary art jewelery events : exhibitions, openings, lectures, awards, etc … You can propose your event to be published in the agenda by clicking in the “Add Event” blue button

Have at it, my sistren.

And like Bilk just announced…

If you’ve already seen this on Instagram my apologies, but the lovely co-director of Bilk, Mio Kuhnen, let the world know over the weekend that two of my pieces from the recent Body Politic exhibition in Canberra were just acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. This takes their Melissa Cameron tally up to 3!

I was in a bit of shock to have such a long and considered gallery visit with Dr Robert Bell (curator of decorative arts at the NGA) while I was in Canberra, on the day before the official opening of the show. He was very inquisitive, and if you’re read any of the text surrounding these works, you’ll have seen that there are a lot of stories to tell, so I was honoured to impart my narrative of these and the other works. He even asked my opinion – what I thought of the pieces he was deliberating and why – and I had to tell him that it took me a long time to come to terms with the Tank piece especially, as I found it brutal and dark when I first finished it.

Finishing that work as one of the earliest in the series – the Cannon and Tank were conceived at the same time – made continuing and then creating even more complex pieces an easier pill to swallow. I look back now and see that they were really just a prelude to the Gun piece, which, while only completed in late 2013 early 2014, was really begun with the horrific events in Sandy Hook in December of 2012. I see now that I put those details away for a while, and decided to start in more neutral territory – a Civil War era cannon and an M1 Abrams tank as fitted out for use by the Australian Army, as a sort of way to first test and then brace myself before moving deeper into this series.

I had a terrible grief-ridden winter this year as I finished up this series, and while the Drone probably didn’t help, I can’t say it hurt either. I now conflate the two in my memory. The Drone and last winter were inevitable, and surviving each of them needed the other as a crutch, in a sort of incongruous symbiosis.

But before all that, when I just had a Tank and a Cannon in my arsenal, I wasn’t sure if I would continue. The duo could have easily remained an outlier, an experiment that was discontinued before it had really begun. So it’s also them I have to thank for begetting the rest of the Escalation series, including the Drone that got me through.

Goodbye good friends, I hope to see you again some time 😉

1100 Shot Round (breastplate) and M1 Abrams (neckpiece)
1100 Shot Round (breastplate) and M1 Abrams (neckpiece)
Jewellery from the Escalation series of altered new and vintage objects by Melissa Cameron
Seven Personnel (neckpiece) and 11 RPH Cannon (brooch)

Conference Papers

I’ve done a bit of house-keeping today, and finally added my SNAGnext presentation from May to the list of conference papers, located over in that sidebar to the left (or above if you’re moblie-y inclined).  While I was there, I made Conference Papers into its own menu, so that you can now easily reach each of the three papers I’ve delivered to a few select audiences over the years. The new one I added today, and also (as of today) the 2013 paper from the JMGA conference in Brisbane, have in-line slides that go along with the text, which add something interesting to look at, especially useful if you get bored of all those words.

Below are links to each of them, starting from the most recent and working my way back. (And yes, I hope to work on sorting out the same deal for the symposium papers next 😉 )

1/ Holistic Thinking: Interconnectivity In Jewels And Practice, presented at the 2016 SNAGnext conference, in Asheville, North Carolina on the 19th of May, 2016.

2/ How to become an artist jeweller: a Seattle community case study, from the JMGA conference in Brisbane, first presented on the 14th of July in 2013 at the State Library of Queensland.

3/ This final one has been kicking around on the internet for a while – my presentation for the 2010 JMGA conference in Perth held at the Central Institute of Technology in April of that year, entitled:

Examining the connections between architecture and jewellery: Looking into the last 100 years to inform a vision of jewellery practice in the future.


Bellevue Arts Museum Biennial – Metalmorphosis

Detail image of work My House - Tanya Lippe's Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel. 2016.
Detail image of work My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box, made out of lunch box steel, stainless steel, vitreous enamel. 2016.

Yesterday my newly finished piece My House: Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box was installed at Bellevue Arts Museum just in time for the opening of the much anticipated juried metal exhibition Metalmorphosis, which opens this Thursday night.

Delivery of the pieces and installation went smoothly, though the complexity of hanging my piece made it the longest official hang of the exhbition… A dubious honour  I can tell you, as Elizabeth, who I spent the day working with, is a real pro. That said, the 3rd floor of the museum was an incredible place to be yesterday, especially as most of the works were in situ (and those with power were running) and it is looking really magnificent. I hitched a ride home with Kirk Lang (a locally-based jeweller/sculptor who is an incredibly precise metalsmith and artist) and both of us were sharing our experience of awe on arrival into the space, at seeing the pieces already installed. It’s a little hard to communicate how amazed and thrilled I am to have my work precariously dangled alongside the glorious fruits of so many high calibre artists and artisans.

Needless to say, if you’re in the Seattle area and you haven’t already got a ticket, then please consider yourself invited to the Thursday night shindig by me! You can head over to the ticketing page and grab a ticket for the opening night party that starts at 6pm on Thursday the 1st, or they’ll be $20 on the door. If you’re willing to wait a day (you will miss out on seeing me though…) you can have free entry for Friday’s opening to the general public. And if you’re in Seattle right now but are going to be in town before February, I encourage you to get along. It’s a heck of a show, and I’ve not even seen it fully installed yet!

From the exhibition media:

BAM received a record-breaking 330 applications for this year’s biennial. From this vast and talented pool of applicants, 49 Northwest artists were selected to participate:

Rik Allen, WA Ruth Beer, BC Lanny Bergner, WA
Jana Brevick, WA Julie Brooks, WA John Buck, MT
Ben Buswell, OR Deborah Butterfield, MT Melissa Cameron, WA
Christine Clark, OR Andy Cooperman, WA Maria Cristalli, WA
Casey Curran, WA Garri Dadyan, WA Marita Dingus, WA
Andrew Fallat, WA Chelsea Gaddy, WA Aran Galligan, WA
Catherine Grisez, WA Laurie J. Hall, OR Bruno Hervieux (Normandie Woodworks), WA
Ron Ho, WA Mary Lee Hu, WA Lynne Hull, WA
David Keyes, WA Bob Kramer, WA Kirk Lang, WA
Cheryll Leo-Gwin, WA Phillip Levine, WA Keith Lewis, WA
Micki Lippe, WA Susan Madacsi, ID Chris McMullen, WA
Taiji Miyasaka &
David Drake, WA
Ries Niemi, WA Allan Packer, WA
Ross Palmer Beecher, WA Beverly Petow, BC Maria Phillips, WA
Peter Reiquam, WA Lyndsay Rice, OR Midori Saito, WA
Anika Smulovitz, ID Julie Speidel, WA Spencer Staley, OR
Nicky Statius, OR Lori Talcott, WA Kristin Tollefson, WA
Nancy Worden, WA

A hint of enamel

Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.
Image of the work HEAT in stainless steel and vitreous enamel. Photograph by Melissa Cameron.

Over at Pratt in Seattle I’m going to be involved with a group-led workshop: It’s All Material: 4 Artists Teach Their Specialties (scroll down for details) starting on the 8th of September. How unusual, I hear you muse, of what could I possibly be talking, you wonder aloud to your e-reading device, whose response is inaudible..?

Well friends, there are going to be 4 artists who take two weeks each to give an intro to their area of jewellery and metalsmithing specialty.  My two weeks will be working with enamel, and how you can add that to the arsenal of jewellery-making techniques. The other artists involved are Pratt regulars: Anne Randall, Julia Harrison and Sharrey Dore.

Should be a fun one!

Mari Funaki Award 2016

Funaki Award

For those of y’all in Melbourne, the Mari Funaki award opens next Wednesday, and in it you will find my work from the recent Body Politic show Ruchnoy Protivotankovy Granatomyot, or RPG for short.

From the Gallery Funaki website:

August 24 – September 24, 2016


The Mari Funaki Award for Contemporary Jewellery is a biennial international Award that showcases excellence in international and Australian contemporary jewellery. Thirty-five artists have been shortlisted from an international field of 413 entries from 48 countries.

The winners will be announced at the opening on Tuesday 23 August 2016. The selected exhibitors are:

Blanche Tilden (Australia) / Céline Sylvestre (France) / David Bielander (Switzerland/Germany) / Doris Betz (Germany) / Dovile Bernadisiute (Lithuania) / Ela Bauer (Netherlands) / Emi Fukuda (Japan) / Florian Milker (Germany) / Frieda Doerfer (Germany) / Genevieve Howard (Ireland) / Henriette Schuster (Germany) / Inari Kiuru (Finland/Australia) / Karl Fritsch (Germany/New Zealand) / Katie Collins (Australia) / Katja Prins (Netherlands) / Katrin Feulner (Germany) / Lauren Tickle (USA) / Léa Mazy (France) / Lisa Walker (New Zealand) / Manon van Kouswijk (Netherlands/Australia) / Melanie Isverding (Germany) / Melinda Young (Australia) / Melissa Cameron (Australia) / Michihiro Sato (Japan) / Nadja Soloviev (Germany) / Naoko Inuzuka (Japan/Australia) / Paul Adie (Scotland) / Shachar Cohen (Israel) / Sarah Johnston (Australia) / Selen Özus (Turkey) / Sophie Baumgärtner (Germany) / Thanh-Truc Nguyen (Germany) / WenMiao Yeh (Taiwan) / Yong Joo Kim (South Korea) / Yu Fang Chi (Taiwan)

The opening is by invitation only, and despite receiving an invite I’m going to have to sit this one out. I hope that all you Melbournians can get along to see the rare treat of such a broad and deep pool of jewellery artists gathered into the one space.

Image credit: Gallery Funaki