The Heat Exchange Exhibition is in Scotland at St Andrews Museum, Fife, and to coincide with the final weeks that it is there on display, there is a symposium on Friday the 19th of February:
“The event will begin at St Andrews Museum (Kinburn Park, Doubledykes Road, St Andrews, KY16 9DP) with registration and an informal tour of the exhibition, Heat Exchange II. The remaining part of the event then takes place at the Byre Theatre (Abbey Street, St Andrews, KY16 9LA)
I’d encourage you to hit the link above to get along but the event is now fully booked, but you can get in touch via that link in order to be put on the wait list.
If you’re no where near the show you can see images of all the works installed at the first Cardiff incarnation of the exhibition on the Heat Exchange website here and here. My favourite at the moment is the collaboration between partners Cath Fairgrieve and Andy Griffiths.
The Seattle Metal Guild’s Symposium Committee are pleased to present the 20th Anniversary Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium!
This year’s stellar lineup includes the dynamic designer-creator partnership of Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg – better known as Nervous System, who together will present Growing Objects about their unique working methods, their title a nod to 3D printing jargon as well as the growth systems of flora and fauna that they replicate. Jewelry artist and writer Jillian Moore will talk Big Time, Small Potatoes about how the facets of her practice – making, writing, teaching and selling – are delicately fused together to form her creative career, while object maker and educator Christine Clark will expand on her love of craft and humanity and how these twin loves meet in her installations, and the residencies that have helped her in her artistic journey. Blacksmith John Rais will present The Process of Design, Large And Small, charting his career through his works, including the collaborations that have especially helped his larger objects. Finally, artist Jennifer Trask’s talk, Vestige: Written in Bone will expand on her practice, from the influence of archaeology, anthropology and biology to her metalsmith training, and her passion for the decorative arts.
The 2015 edition sees us back on Broadway in Capitol Hill and ready to rock with all the Symposium classics, but as ever there is more than just one day of action. This year the weekend prior to the Symposium will host a Jillian Moore Workshop: New Surface Techniques with Resin, proudly presented by Seattle Metals Guild’s Workshop Committee. You’ll have to get in quick for this one as Jillian has previously hosted sold-out workshops in Seattle!
While regular attendees will know that the Symposium includes not one but two silent auctions, the news is that this year we have already secured works of eminently collectable handmade jewelry by famous local artisans, so check out the donations link for more details on these unique pieces, or if you have something to donate. And if you’re in the market for a bargain we have already started amassing many other treats! As usual there is also Charon Kransen’s book sale, which specializes in hard-to-find titles from the realms of jewelry and metalsmithing, and the Resource Table with High School Teachers’ Meet and Greet, a wonderful space to share knowledge and expertise about the industry.
If this is your first Symposium we welcome you too! We have planned a day that is carefully balanced between the formal and informal, the informative and the playful, between knowledgeable scholars and gifted makers, each of whom has a unique story to share. We welcome everyone who is interested in the craft and art of jewelry and metalsmithing, and trust that you will be embraced by a warm and open community of fellow enthusiasts, hobbyists, educators, technicians and full-time artisans and artists.
For the first time we have the added excitement of a pop-up exhibition right after the Symposium. Organized by local maker Everett Hoffman and featuring Northwest talent, it will be on view in the time between the last speaker and the now-customary speakers reception. Entitled Home Ties: An Intimate Study of Adornment for the Body and Home, it is an “exhibition of jewelry and adornment that questions and redefines the idea of home,” and will aptly take place inside a house located within walking distance of the Broadway Performance Hall.
Which brings us, finally, to our closing number! In honor of our 20th year we’ve added a few special flourishes across the day to celebrate, with an extra special finale at our now-traditional close-of-day speakers’ reception, this year at Rhein Haus in Capitol Hill. Everyone is invited to continue the festivities and join the speakers and current and past committee members in a toast to our 20-year milestone!
Founded in 1989, The Seattle Metals Guild is a non-profit community dedicated to promoting educational and networking opportunities for metals artists at all career levels and skill sets through lectures, workshops, social gatherings, and other enrichment opportunities, in order to strengthen our creative community.
I live-tweeted the 2014 Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium yesterday, presented by our hardworking committee, on behalf of the Seattle Metals Guild. It was a great event! (And I’m not just saying that because I was on the committee.. ;P )Check it out in my little Storify below. Or you can also check it out on the web!
Announcing the 19th Annual Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium
Saturday, October 18th
Washington State History Museum
1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
The volunteer members of the Seattle Metal Guild’s Symposium Committee are pleased to announce this year’s lineup of speakers for the annual Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium. Working to the theme of Continuum, we have selected six speakers – curator Suzanne Ramljak, historian Stephen Fliegel, metalsmith Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, artist Jennifer Trask, jeweler Todd Pownell and sculptor Vivian Beer to share their expertise and wisdom with our audience.
This year the event coincides with the unveiling of the exhibition Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armor to Amulets at the Tacoma Art Museum. Speaker Suzanne Ramljak, editor of the prestigious Metalsmith magazine has curated this exhibition, which also features many Northwest artists. She will be on hand to celebrate the opening along with its initiator Carissa Hussong, of the Metal Museum in Memphis.
The beautiful Washington State History Museum, located a short stroll from TAM, will play host to this incarnation of the Symposium. The date also coincides with the annual Tacoma Arts Month, which this year will again feature Metal-Urge, a celebration of metal arts with multiple events planned for locations throughout the city during October.
The close-of-day speakers’ reception will also double as the opening celebration for the Protective Ornament exhibition, meaning Symposium attendees will be among the first to see this beautiful collection of wearable objects.
Founded in 1989, The Seattle Metals Guild is a non-profit community dedicated to promoting educational and networking opportunities for metals artists at all career levels and skill sets through lectures, workshops, social gatherings, and other enrichment opportunities, in order to strengthen our creative community.
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)
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…
I’m finally tying up all the loose ends around here from my trip to Australia in July. After my previous post on the Bodywork exhibition, my last mission is to tell you all about my tour through the newly relocated Monash jewellery workshops. I promised to fill y’all in at the end of this post about the Seams Seems Symposium in early October so apologies for you who’ve been waiting with bated breath, I hope you can breathe normally now!
First up, if the pictures of the jewellery studio below are not quite as convincing as they could be, as far as I am aware (and the photos were taken in July mind you) the jewellery/metals program at Monash has not been shut down. There have been large changes to it, and in part those are due to the change in the way the Department of Fine Art is now administering its units, as it is currently undergoing significant changes to the way courses are offered and delivered. It was rumoured that the course was to close at the end of Marian Hosking’s tenure, but as this coincided with the beginning of these changes it’s hard to say that the lack of first-year intake is from either the process of shutting or the process of changing the course offerings. The current head is supportive of these arts/crafts, as the previously-threatened glass studios also remain and course offerings are available for both streams in 2014.
Marian Hosking’s role as studio coordinator of metals and jewellery has been taken over by Manon van Kouswijk, and Vito Bila is still the jewellery/metals technician. I believe that additional teaching will be done by Roseanne Bartley, effectively she’ll be taking the role that Simon Cottrell vacated when he moved to Canberra.
As you may or may not be able to tell, the studio is now located in the fine arts building, right next to the glass studios and across from the sculpture studio, and overlooking some of the independent studios spaces allocated to postgraduate fine arts candidates. It also overlooks Caulfield Race Track, so there are no buildings in the way to stop quite generous views that purportedly can reach Port Philip Bay. Nice…
As I understand it, the fine arts stream has changed all round, with course offerings being more open and generalised to begin with, giving students the opportunity to choose their areas of concentration as they progress along the timeline of their fine arts degree. Vito Bila described it to us on his tour as a really exciting, because it is integrating jewellery into arts more holistically, and with that comes the potential to create a really dynamic arts-focused jewellery course, something that he believes is unique, with nothing quite like it in the whole country. I tend to agree with him, because I think that if jewellery wants to be part of the arts conversation then the training is one obvious segment that should reflect that. I’m also fan of Manon van Kouswijk’s work (I wrote about her and Ben Lignel in my MFA thesis) and I think the kind of broad thinking that she applies to her jewellery practice will be indicative of what she will bring to the course and the arts department, which has the potential to be of great benefit not just to her students – those in jewellery and those not – but obviously to the department as a whole.
The system of having a generic first year and signing up for individual courses can be seen as adopting a more American style, but having said that, it is a system that was in place in my time at Curtin University in Perth. I studied a common first year with all of architecture and interior architecture, (before we were split into separate studios in 2nd year.) A similar open policy was available in the fine arts, where I opted not to do jewellery as an undergrad out of a fear of having to mix it with the general arts population before I could concentrate solely on jewellery in 2nd and 3rd years, (albeit that my reticence was combined with a stronger desire to actually study architecture.) I now realise that the option of having a generic first year is an amazing resource, and if I had bothered to consult anybody about my fear-based-decision I might have seen the wisdom in the mixed programme earlier. Not a day goes by that I don’t use my interior architecture training, and if I had some printmaking or glass or even painting skills behind me I’m guessing I could argue the same for those. That and I know plenty of people who changed major mid-stream, as they came to the realisation that what they had signed up for was not really what they were passionate about.
I realise that not all students have that issue nor want a broad base, they might want to come in and get straight down to their career-course on day one of studies, and I don’t blame them. Getting mastery of any skill is going to take all the time you can give it. But for those of us who walked into university a little more reticent that they had made the right decision, a few more options – not to mention a chance to play with a myriad of creative techniques and technologies – is a good thing.
OK, that has ended up a bit ranty, so I’ll go away now, and you can look at the pictures. I’m not going to explain them much, in part because as Vito mentioned the transition from the deign building to the arts one was still taking place, so they were missing walls and doors and venting and the like. I imagine that more changes have been made by now, but here’s what was there in July.
Deadline it up, y’all – please feel free to drop me a line if you’ve seen any that aren’t listed. As usual, it’s my ad-hoc list of upcoming opportunities to exhibit, learn, earn or perhaps even teach, from wherever I see ‘em.
Looking for love in all the wrong places? Lamenting that there’s fewer fine deadlines for you fine folk in The Britain? Might I suggest you sign up to the benchpeg newsletter, as they do what I do here, except, you know, professionally!
Opportunities with deadlines
Sup Brooch. Already boasting the best title for an exhibition this year, this is an online/catalogue exhibition of brooches for bros, co-curated by my buddy from the Pittsburgh massive, Sharon Massey. Entries due 22 November 2013.
Ritual. A single sheet book show. No, not jewels as such, but I’m throwing a challenge out to y’all – I wanna see jewellers take over the show with some beautiful images, drawings and such. I’m gonna, whydoncha join me? Deadline November 30th 2013.
****Reliquary/Redux. Be exhibited during the 2014 ECU Metals Symposium in January. Entries close December 1st 2013.
****Alessi in Love. Complicated back-story, check out the website. But you could get manufactured by Alessi?! Deadline Dec 3rd, 2013.
REFINED VIII: Maker’s Choice. REFINED is a biennial exhibition of jewelry and metalwork hosted by the Art Metals program in the School of Art at Stephen F. Austin State University. I’ve been in this one, it’s a good show! Deadline 9th December 2013.
RAGS wearable art show – Get your work into a juried art show whose proceeds go to help those in need. Donated work is for sale and donors receive a healthy commission and the side bonus, a multitude of good karma! From their site:
“The artists who display and sell their work at RAGS agree to give 33 percent of their sales in the marketplace and 40 percent of their sales in the gallery to RAGS. All of those proceeds go directly to the YWCA Pierce County. The RAGS donation – $97,000 in 2011 – is earmarked to fund YWCA programs that specifically address domestic violence in our community.”
Deadline 13th December 2013.
Matchbox Microcosms. Make curios? Ever wanted to be shown in a van that’s going to travel around the UK, showing off your work against its other, curiouser, displays. Wanna be shown to school groups, amongst others? Now’s your chance! Open to all nationalities, not just you of the British persuasion (Yup, I checked). Deadline Dec 31, 2013.
****Origomu: Master and Protégé Contest. Pair up with a demale someone who does not enjoy the same privileges as you, and submit your entries by Feb 15th 2013 to win cash prizes for you and your protégé.
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.
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.
Contemporary Metal in Perth have updated their class timetable and there is some great stuff on offer. Check it!
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.
Lord Coconut in Melbourne has outdone himself by publishing this listing of opportunities for artists in his gallery. As ever, this is to exhibit jewellery for men. Thanks to Karen at Melbourne Jeweller for the heads up.
So the Seattle Metals Guild held their Northwest Jewelry and Metals Symposium over the weekend. I was on the organising committee and had been put in charge of the ‘book room’. Charon Kransen – stop me if you’ve heard it – sent over a bunch of boxes of books from New York, and my job was to set them out neatly, mind the books, and make sales. And talk wise about the ones that I had work in… (OK, so I might have added that last part. That was not an official committee-sanctioned responsibility.)
Thus I was wandering through the board room and store room of the Broadway Performance Hall on Capitol Hill in the early morning of Saturday. In order to have a signing table for our two speakers with books and catalogues to sign, I stepped into the store room to grab an extra trestle table. At one point in a very delicate exercise of collapsing the thing to get it out the door (lets not ask why a trestle table of 1800mm x 800mm was doing standing assembled in a room of 2m x 3m that was filled with other disused furniture), my left hand lost purchase and whacked the wall pretty hard.
Lucky for me, my engagement rings took the brunt of the hit. Unlucky for them though. Well, one in particular…
So I’ve busted one of these before (no, not the same one – last time it was a white-gold one, promise!), though last time it was snagged on a vinyl mat in the gym, while I was rolling over doing some stretches. Yeah, hard-core. And of course, as I am fond of telling people when they ask about them (and almost 8 years into wearing them, I am still asked about them regularly) each of the top plates that the diamonds are set into did once all turn on their stems. But them being 18k gold, and me being a natural fidget-er who is always trying to hide it, I eventually wore them all down, until their little heads all plopped off and all I had was plain gold rings with stems on. Oh, and a separate small collection of beautifully set diamonds on tiny plates that had holes in the back.
The wonderful Gillian Rainer, who made them, solidly affixed the little heads back on their stems a few years ago now, but the last stem-break, just like this one will soon be, was fixed by me. If I wasn’t a jeweller I would definitely send them back to the artist, but in this circumstance, I figure the ‘you broke it, you own it’ rule applies.
I really encourage you to get along to this event. We’ve carefully planned an enriching day in which we plan to get into the fine detail of how, when and why creative people throw out the rule book to forge ahead on their own path.
To whet your appetite local legend Andy Cooperman, writer and master metal-smith, has diligently prepared an in-depth spiel on each of our game-changing speakers, which I have included below. And of course there will be the book sale, featuring Charon Kransen’s collection of books, a silent auction, and for the first time this year we’ve introduced a jewellery auction! I have contributed a piece with a starting price of $5 for the “Bijoux Big Board” – a collection of little jewels available for sale that can be taken home on the day.
See you there!
Elizabeth Brim:Forming/Reforming Tradition
Remember when June Cleaver—Beaver’s mother—wore high heels and a string of pearls as she stood washing dishes at the kitchen sink? Nostalgia for early television sitcoms aside, change that image up a bit: the sink is a forge and Mrs. Cleaver is now Elizabeth Brim, pearl wearing, hammer wielding, nail polished blacksmith. She is not your typical steel worker.
“I grew up in a strong female dominated society. The things I make are all about being female and the expectations of women of my generation. I’m just playing dress-up, making a little fun of myself and having a really good time.”
From subject matter to execution, there is improbability and audacity in the work of this exceptional blacksmith, from the delicately woven southern bonnet forged and fabricated in steel to the sheets of iron welded into flaccid hollow forms, heated red and then inflated with compressed air into pillows. Brim has an MFA from the University of Georgia and has studied metals, sculpture, and blacksmithing at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. She was an instructor in the Columbus State University Art Department in Columbus Georgia before deciding to become a full-time studio artist and moving to Penland. Since then she has demonstrated extensively in the United States and in Germany and Canada and has been a visiting artist at a roster of universities that include Cranbrook Academy of Art. Brim will speak about her life and work
Danielle Maveal:Changing the Game: One player’s story and tips for building a new kind of creative business online
Once upon a time there was no simple, straight path for artists and makers to get their work out there, get it seen and maybe sold. Etsy changed all that, providing almost instant access to worldwide markets, free from the constraints of applications, juries, galleries and booth fees. Focused on the hand-made, this e-commerce site is now for many the way that they first begin and then continue to sell their work. As much as Etsy has helped to redefine the marketplace, it is now also changing things by teaching makers how to be better entrepreneurs.
After working as a bench jeweler and shop manager, and then running her own business, Danielle Maveal found Etsy. Working through this online craft community, she soon was in 30 boutiques worldwide, with thousands of sales and a supportive team of mentors, collaborators and peers. In 2006, Etsy hired Maveal to help grow the company and work with the community. During her five years as Etsy’s Seller Education Lead, Maveal was responsible for writing the newsletter and blog posts and organizing both online and offline workshops for an audience of nearly one million. Since then Maveal has led small business classes at Seattle’s General Assembly, The Creative Conference of Entrepreneurs, Martha Stewart’s Dreamers Into Doers Conference and other entrepreneurial events. She recently launched Creative Little Beasts, the podcast, consultancy and community for rebel entrepreneurs where she is Rebel Leader.
Ursula Ilse-Neuman:The Transcendent Jewelry of Margaret de Patta: Vision in Motion
The 1940’s was a pivotal time in the history of American contemporary metalsmithing. Back east was Art Smith, Ed Weiner and Sam Kramer. Here on the west coast one of the iconic figures was Margaret De Patta. A child of the Northwest—she was born in Tacoma—De Patta studied in Chicago and eventually moved to San Francisco, where she built signature compositions that dynamically balanced light and line and helped define Modernist jewelry.
Curator of Jewelry at New York’s Museum of Arts and Design, Ursula Ilse-Neuman has organized and curated exhibitions including Elegant Armor: Jewelry from the MAD Collection; GlassWear: Glass in Contemporary Jewelry and, in 2012, Space, Light, Structure: Margaret de Patta Retrospective. Ilse-Neuman holds an MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (Parsons The New School for Design) and has completed doctoral studies at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture. She has lectured widely in the United States, Europe and Asia and has established an international reputation as an expert on contemporary jewelry, writing books and contributing feature articles and reviews to publications that include Metalsmith Magazine. Ilse-Neuman will speak about the life and work of Margaret De Patta, and the retrospective exhibition and its accompanying catalog.
Kiff Slemons:More Than One to Make One: The Jewelry of Kiff Slemmons
Thought. Idea. Metaphor. Slemmons: Words that just seem to go together. Over forty years of work, Kiff Slemmons has explored ideas through serial investigations and museum and gallery exhibitions. Ideas about scale and classification through images of insects, ideas about imperfection in the “repair” and remaking of other artists’ work and ideas about the value of materials in the restructuring of found photographs. Slemmons is a self-taught metalsmith with degrees in Art and French from the University of Iowa. She has studied Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris and Metal through Parsons School of Design (in Japan). She is a Fellow of the American Craft Council and has been interviewed for the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The public collections that hold Slemmons work are too numerous to detail here but include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Houston Museum of Fine Arts, TX.
Though now living in Chicago, Kiff Slemmons will always be a favorite daughter of Seattle and the Northwest. She is an artist known for her thoughtful and honest approach to both conception and process. The respect that Slemmons accords even the simplest materials can change the way that we see and appreciate the world and our ideas about it. Slemmons will discuss how she came to work with a cooperative in Oaxaca, Mexico founded by the artist and cultural activist Francisco Toledo, designing jewelry using handmade paper. And how this project led her to question the importance of the handmade in current contemporary culture.
Greg Wilbur:East and West: The Hammered Metal Object: How to make a show(s) from scratch
There is a point of plasticity where metal can be said to act like clay, but this man raises metal vessel forms whose insanely choked-in necks and integrally forged tendrils seem metalurgically impossible. How does he push a sheet of metal this far? Greg Wilbur is a studio metalsmith and artist living in Portland, Oregon. He has earned degrees in Metalsmithing and Art Education from the University of Oregon, where he played a lot of baseball (“hammering is just like baseball” he writes). Wilbur was cofounder of ‘Art in the Pearl’, the highly rated street fair in Portland (“artists should make money”) and since 1996 has participated in the collaborative artists event Emma Lake Collaborations born in Saskatchewan, Canada and also staged in Oregon, New Zealand and France.
Greg Wilbur will be speaking to us mostly about his experiences organizing and crowd-funding the exhibition “East and West: The Hammered Metal Object”. This cross-cultural, bi-continental exhibition of Japanese and American metalsmiths will travel to multiple venues including Portland’s Museum of Contemporary Crafts and the Velvet Da Vinci gallery in San Francisco. Crowd-funding– raising money online through a multiplicity of small contributions on sites like “Kickstarter”—is how many creative projects are now being made. See his Kickstarter here. Wilbur’s work can be found at Velvet daVinci and the Waterstone Gallery in Portland OR among other venues.
And when you’re there be sure to come and introduce yourself to me, I’m running the book sale for the day!
Whoa, was it back in August that I put out my last In Melbourne post? I promised back then to fill you in on what happened at the Seams Seems symposium, which I will now attempt to finish up.
On Friday the 19th of July, a blustery and rainy day in Melbourne, a committed group of art-jewellery fanciers headed out to the Monash MADA department at the university’s Caulfield campus to ogle some new works and listen to a raft of intelligent thoughts on the state of jewellery exhibition, making and education options in Australia and the USA.
Dr Robert Bell, AM: Senior Curator Decorative Arts and Design, National Gallery of Australia Katie Scott: Director of Gallery Funaki, Melbourne Lisa Fehily: Director of Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne Professor Robin Quigley: Head of Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems Lousje Skala: Current MFA jewellery and metalsmithing candidate at MADA. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems Associate Professor Tracy Steepy: Graduate Program Director – Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems Wendy Parker: Coordinator Postgraduate Research and Jewellery and Object Design. School of Design Studies, COFA, Sydney. MADA jewellery and metalsmithing graduate. Roseanne Bartley: Current lecturer in the MADA jewellery stream Melissa Cameron: MADA jewellery and metalsmithing graduate. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems Biatta Kelly: Current PhD jewellery and metalsmithing candidate at MADA. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems Anna Varendorff: Current MADA jewellery and metalsmithing candidate. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
The day opened with a short introduction from Dr Marian Hosking, former head of the jewellery and metalsmithing stream at MADA (I believe she has retired, but is still finishing up with her postgrad students?) and the organiser of the symposium.
The keynote speaker Dr Robert Bell followed – with some insights about working with the jewellery collection at the National Gallery of Australia. I found his presentation really engaging, as he spoke about the contemporary jewellery collection, the acquisitions process (and the “poignant moment” of this process as a work transfers from private to public ‘hands’ is the last time that someone actually gets to hold the acquired works with hands un-gloved) and the then upcoming Bodywork exhibition, closing with his own personal story of how, at the tender age of seven, the Art Gallery of Western Australia forever changed his world.
The jewellery gallery within the National Gallery opened in 2009 and occupies a prime location, such that 75% of the people who go to exhibitions elsewhere in the gallery stop to see it on their way through. There are approximately 100 jewellery works on display there, making it an equal amount of pieces as are paintings on display on the International Floor. At this stage there are not a lot of labels detailing contextual material (the benefit that small works take up less space also means that there is less space for explanation panels) but they are in the process of installing QR codes to link to 200 word statements to each of the works.
The other news he shared with the jewellery community, which will be of no surprise to many by now since it has already started, is the Bodywork exhibition. This exhibition of Australian jewellery owned by the NGA will be travelling to ten regional galleries from 2013 to 2015. The exhibition began at the Moree Plains Gallery on the 7th of September, 2013, and will stay there until the 3rd of November, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go check it out!
I will have more on that show as it travels about the place – and I’ll talk more about about what Dr Bell explained to us about the collection and he did spend a lot of time outlining the curatorial position of this travelling show, as well as the difficulties faced by the curatorial team in choosing works to travel, specifically owing to the fragility of some of the constituent materials of the jewellery objects in the collection. He explained that the exhibition is taking in almost exclusively regional centres as it has been designed for galleries that traditionally would not be able to get access to such well executed exhibitions, and no doubt access to anything from the National Gallery owing to the prohibitive insurance and other costs associated with transporting and installing larger works.
And my big news, which was revealed to the audience by Marian Hosking and reiterated in this presentation, is that my work Infinity Affinity III was collected by Dr Bell for the National Gallery earlier this year, and is now currently on tour in the Bodywork exhibition.
Finally, his story about the WA Museum (I’m pretty sure that none of you will remember reading about my ‘aha’ moment at the WA Art Gallery) which was then physically linked to the WA Art Gallery in its architecture, was that he came from the dinosaurs and other treats that an old-fashioned museum had to offer, right into a magnificent carved wood sculpture, that had been made by a human! A work by Gerald Lewers (father of Darani Lewers) in fact greeted the seven year old Bell and changed his view of art forever, no doubt influencing his choice of profession. He reminded the audience that getting our jewellery, via exhibitions such as Bodyworks, into the view and minds of other children and adults was really important, as “Today could be the day,” that one such piece of art could change someone’s world view forever.
I won’t go into the same detail for the speakers that followed, in part because they presented for less time, and because they generally spoke about what you would expect them to. Katie Scott began speaking about taking on the directorship of Gallery Funaki in Melbourne after the passing of the beloved Mari Funaki, and her slowly and deliberately evolving vision for the future. She also spoke with great passion about her artists and the place her space takes in the world of galleries, and also detailed her reasons for the new fitout, the slides of which were wonderful to see how the space can be configured by and for the exhibiting artists.
Lisa Fehily spoke about what drew her and her family to collecting, and thus ultimately what impelled her to start her own gallery space, Fehily Contemporary in Melbourne. She has represented jewellery in solo shows in the short time her space has been running and sees it in the light of any other artwork, remarking that “Contemporary jewellery is inherently conceptual.”
Lousje Skala and Robin Quigley got switched with a computer glitch, so rather than the running order as published above, Lousje Skala came next. Skala, who was represented at Schmuck earlier this year by her pristine printed nylon and chromed works, spoke about coming back to jewellery making after a hiatus, and how her ‘gift of deafness’ (Skala is profoundly deaf) enriches her works. She was at pains to point out that her perceived heightened “visual acuity” resulting from this deficit does not make her different or better than any other visual artist, but that it has, and continues to, inform her own experience. In explaining her process she revealed that she “Thinks like a scientist, behaves like a designer and produces the work of an artist.” I can wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, as I often feel that my position in the art jewellery world is not one of the solo maker – this often times being the easiest/most appropriate way to describe my output – despite the fact that in the creation of my works I alternate between researcher, designer, commissioner and producer.
Professor Robin Quigley spoke about the school and faculty that she is in charge of at Rhode Island School of Design, as well as the undergrad student outcomes. They are justifiably proud of their strong program. Associate Professor Tracy Steepy spoke about the graduate program as well as gave us an overview of many of the artists from RISD that were exhibiting in the Seams Seems exhibition.
Wendy Parker spoke about her programs, as well as the fact that the department is in flux, pending changes at the end of the school calendar this year. She also spoke about her own work, including the making of a ritual object for installation into fashion designer Issey Miyake’s house.
Roseanne Bartley very smartly gave the same presentation that she had given at the JMGA conference the week before and then the last three, myself, Biatta Kelly and Anna Varendorff spoke about our own practices. I was asked by Marian Hosking to speak about ‘staying connected’, so I did.
And following this I, and a few other current and ex students, took a tour of the new jewellery facility with Vito Bila (pics coming soon!) and then attended the opening of the Seams Seems exhibition.
Phew, you thought I’d never finish, eh?
I gotta be honest, so did I at one point…