St Patrick’s day; the middle day of 3 straight days of anniversaries, for me. From the image above I think it’s easy enough to guess what happened to me on the 17th of March 2012. My life, my work, everything changed. But, one can say that about every day that we get to share on this planet. For me, this last 5 years has been full of days like these.
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.
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 😉
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.
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’?
The speakers list for the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia conference Participation and Exchange has been finalised and it looks like a very interesting lineup, (and that is despite my bias of actually being on it.)
My buddies Mary Hackett and Christine Scott Young are going to talk about a couple of Melbourne-based organisations that are very close to my heart, Part B particularly so. Going from the title alone I’m also guessing that Helena Bogucki is also going to tug on my heartstrings, as she talks about her work that both comes from and engages with my home-state, Western Australia.
And I’m presenting a paper entitled How to become an Artist jeweller: a community Case Study (which probably should have ‘in the US‘ appended after jeweller), about the options available for training wannabe artists and metal smiths in Seattle. This is not as straightforward as it sounds given the closure of the approx 90 year-old local university program at the University of Washington a few years ago. Mary Lee Hu was the head there for many years, and when she finally decided to retire the university took the opportunity to close down the course. Sound like a recipe for disaster that could only happen in the US? Well, for a while there it looked as though my alma mater, Monash University, might be facing the same fate, so it’s a topic that I have more than a passing interest in. Lucky for Melbourne the program there still exists, but my investigation on Seattle unearthed a few more reasons as to why the loss of this college program was a tough blow to artists and school leavers in this city.
I was also hoping to carry on from this discussion to some more details of the other side of the industry – how to make it in the world once you have graduated from uni. There are a few different ideas on that here in the North America, but I had to cut that section owing to time constraints. What I’m saying is, if you manage to corner me in a bar some time, there’s plenty more of the tale to tell…
Hope to see you there, it’s going to be a great conference!
There was this amazing symposium recently, I have just found out. And part of the awesome was a presentation by Ben Lignel. I can’t remember where I got the link from (so very sorry, but I started watching the clip earlier in the week whilst jet-lagged, and didn’t finish it til last night, and in the intervening space I forgot where it came from) so my heartiest of apologies if it was you. Anyway, the presentation itself gives much food for thought. Interesting times.
I finally got around to reading ‘Interview with Postmodernism Curator at the V&A, Glenn Adamson’ by Katherine Elliott last week.
This was the bit I was particularly interested in;
Q: In your opinion, what is the difference between critiquing work created as art and work created for use, like product design?
A: I think it’s a continuum or maybe even just a shift in emphasis. You can treat a design object like an art work (Duchamp started doing so a century ago after all) and you can also treat an art work like a design object, by considering its production and distribution narrative. So to me, the difference is in the manner of questioning, not the supposed inherent nature of the object, or even the maker’s intention.
The question and answer that directly followed this was particularly thought-provoking, to me, given that they explore further that last part – intention – and what importance is has to historians/theorists, when forming a historical narrative. Not as much as I might have thought.
In the field of research jewellery, you’d have to argue that it is a particularly intriguing arena to investigate.
The whole reason I was reminded of my day in the Pattern Shop in Midland was because when I visited again, after being escorted by security to the door, I was welcomed by Jon to check out not only the exhibitions that were on in the adjoining building, but to look at the works in progress in the workshop that immediately precedes the gallery space. This space has a door into the back to the Pattern Workshop, through which Jon disappeared after a brief introduction to the show, to continue his work.
He works in the ground floor of the pattern workshop, and by sticking my camera lens in, I figure (perhaps incorrectly?) that the patterns and detritus still remain above.
Some more photos from my visit. My camera eventually ran out of battery, and I took these with my new (at that stage) smartphone.
Thanks to Christine Scott-Young for the heads up on this article from The Age:
And here are some more details on the show:
Gioielli d’Autore. Padova e la Scuola dell’oro
(Italian Contemporary Jewellery. Padua and its Jewellery School)
Exhibition dates: 17 June – 14 August 2011
Friday 17 June 12-1 pm
Italian jewellers Alberta Vita and Lucia Davanzo speaking about the Padua jewellery school.
Location: RMIT Gallery
Friday 24 June 10.30 am – 12 noon
The EU Centre at RMIT and RMIT Gallery present:
Jewellery in Europe and Australia: Alberta Vita and Lucia Davanzo in conversation with Melbourne jewellers Elfrun Lach and Teresa Lane
Chair: Mark Edgoose, the coordinator of undergraduate studies, (Gold and Silversmithing), School of Art, RMIT
Includes Italian morning tea. Free. Reserved seating. Bookings essential 9925 1717
Location: Location: Storey Hall Conference Rooms 1 & 2, Level 7, Building 16.
Admission free. All Welcome. RSVP 03 9925 1717 / email@example.com
See you tomorrow!