The Connexions artist team are proud to invite you to their exhibition, to be opened by Katherine Kalaf on Thursday the 30th of September 5:30 – 7:30 pm, at Gallery Central, 12 Aberdeen St, Perth.
Connexions is honoured to be a festival event of the Indian Ocean Craft Triennial – IOTA21 and features works by jewellery artists Emily Beckley, Fatemeh Boroujeni, Melissa Cameron, Blandine Halle, Eden Lennox, and Sultana Shamshi.
Gallery hours: Monday – Friday: 11am – 4.30pm & Saturday: 12pm – 2:30pm Artist Talk: Saturday 2 October 12pm
More details in the invitation images above. Please remember to RSVP to the opening: firstname.lastname@example.org and of course please invite your friends!
Looking forward to sharing a drink and a chat at the opening!
Art Guide Australia has an article about the IOTA21 festival online now, and Juukan Tears gets a named checked and an image. Thank you Sheridan Hart for the chat and the mention. There’s other media out there, Art Monthly Australasia and of course the IOTA21 catalogue if you’re keen for more to read about the two main IOTA exhibitions and my work.
Juukan Tears has been launched for nearly a week now, so here’s a few images of the work for those far away and curious.
In May of 2020 mining company Rio Tinto destroyed a site which contained the Juukan Shelters, a place that had been in use by the First Nations traditional custodians of that land, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) peoples, for over 46,000 years.
Located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA), the Shelters were on land leased by Rio Tinto for the Brockman 4 mine, one of their 16 in the area. Approval to mine was granted in 2013, under WA’s Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage act of 1972, which is currently under review. In 2014 an archaeological survey of the site found 4,000-year-old human hair, as well as proof of continuous use of the site dating back 46,000 years.
The site was considered in the “top five” most significant sites in the Pilbara by archaeologist Dr Heather Builth. Archaeologist Dr Michael Slack, author of multiple reports on the shelters in 2008 and 2014, and the team leader of an excavation that removed over 7000 artefacts from the caves in 2014, told Rio Tinto that the shelter known as Juukan 2, was of “the highest archaeological significance in Australia.”
The Rio Tinto offices occupy the tallest building in Perth. In a relatively small and topographically flat city, the building is visible for kilometres around its central city site, including from my studio space in North Perth. It became a constant reminder in the weeks after the blast that this huge icon remained unscathed, while 46,000 years of human history in a remote and sparsely human-occupied part of our country had been blasted into oblivion.
Noticing it afresh made me wonder about the stories that exist under my feet, that because of colonisation will never be told. What did we lose almost 200 years ago? And what would happen if the places were reversed? If we made protests about a sacred city building that ended up being futile, and then bore witness to its destruction, how would we feel? What would we do?
The work Juukan Tears is in two main parts, consisting of a portrait of the Rio Tinto building “drawn” in relief, using void space to express lines. The lines themselves are serrated, as they are made of removed amalgamations of teardrop shapes, that were linked to create the broken waterfall of tears hung to the right of the portrait. The tear chains each have one hundred tears and hang in two rows of twenty-three. That makes four-thousand six-hundred teardrops, equalling one tear for every ten years of time lost when the Juukan Shelters were destroyed.
The piece is made from recycled corrugated galvinised steel sheets that I removed from the shed in my own backyard. There are over 7000 chromed steel chain links used to stitch together the parts. When added up, the broken waterfall contains approximately 80m of teardrop chain.
The background of the drawing section is cut into 382 rectangular columns of four different lengths. It was reported that there were 382 holes already drilled into the Juukan Shelters before the “Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Traditional Owners were made aware of the planned blast on May 15, 2020.” Ultimately Rio Tinto decided it would be too dangerous to remove the shot that was already placed into each of these holes, so the site was detonated. By careful placement of the four different column lengths, I steganographically hid a Morse code message into the piece. Once decoded, it reads “46,000 year old Juukan Shelters destroyed for… iron ore.”
 Keira Jenkins, “Rio Tinto Tells Senate Inquiry It Could Have Avoided Juukan Gorge Destruction.”
 Gregg Borschmann, “Rio Tinto Knew Six Years Ago about 46,000-Year-Old Cave Site It Blasted.”
 Keira Jenkins, “Rio Tinto Tells Senate Inquiry It Could Have Avoided Juukan Gorge Destruction.”
After using a jewellers saw that is 0.25mm wide to hand saw around 200m of steel, I linked the cut pieces back together again to form a portrait of the headquarters of the biggest iron ore producer in Australia. To make the portrait, and the 4,600 tears that emanated from it, I cobbled together four separate sheets of recycled corrugated steel. One was swallowed practically whole, while the others left a few offcuts. Some of them were huge sheets with all corrugations intact, and others were small, even dainty. Jewellery scale.
The very limited edition Juukan Tears Offcuts jewellery works are made from these. They are as they fell from the bench, with small jewellery fittings added to make thirty unique and eminently wearable pieces of art.
See these at the opening of: The Indian Ocean Craft Triennial Curiosity and Rituals of the Everyday
from 6pm Thursday the 9th of September, at the John Curtin Gallery. They will be on sale beside my work Juukan Tears until the 31st of October, the full the duration of the exhibition, or until sold out.
To make inquiries about the works and for a full price list get in touch with the gallery store, or me, and I can put you in contact with the team there.
Join IOTA21 co-curators Carola Akindele-Obe, Maggie Baxter and Jude van der Merwe in conversation with Melissa Cameron (WA), Garry Sibosado (WA) and Desmond Lazaro (India/VIC) as they discuss their arts practice and the challenges and rewards of creating contemporary craft work within the Indian Ocean region.
If you have any special requirements to enable you to participate in this event, please advise when you RSVP. We will contact you to provide assistance. For more information about disability services at Curtin, please visit disability.curtin.edu.au. Make tomorrow better.
I invite you to come and see the debut of my new work, Juukan Tears, in the Triennial for which it was commissioned. I’ll be there at the opening so please do say hi!
The Value Chains JMGA online conference begins tomorrow evening (AEST) with Simon Cottrell, the co-chair of the original and postponed conference, and includes Roseanne Bartley, Claire McArdle, Julia Wild, Jonathan Zalakos and Joanna Zellmer. This is followed by matt lambert with “Other People’s Business: What makes a material new and what does it mean to use a material from someone else’s value chain?” In their talk matt will invite individual presentations by Kelly Macdonald, Victoria Mcintosh, Zoe Brand with a panel discussion chaired by matt. Can’t wait to see them, they’ve moved country to pursue their PhD since we last met face-to-face!
what a way to kick off, no?
Successive weeks and months will see a host of other jewellers from all over, obviously predominantly from Aus/NZ, gracing our screens. Representing WA on the 21st of September will be Sarah Elson and I, speaking about our new works on display (by then) as a part of IOTA21. Tickets for the whole series are available now and the lineup is listed at the Garland website. I am told that the Airmeet platform will be able to replay sessions on demand.
Speaking of IOTA21 and September…
I will be part of a panel at the IOTA21 Futuring Craft Conference. “Gestures of Welcome; exploring jewellery as a gesture of welcome in response to Australian immigration policy” is conveyned by Belinda Newick, and includes on the panel contemporary jewellers; Mel Young (NSW), Lauren Simeoni (SA), Vicki Mason (VIC), Melissa Cameron (WA); CEO of Museum of Freedom and Tolerance, Shaheen Hughes (WA) and another speaker TBC.
FYI – the conference runs in Fremantle and Bentley to take in both IOTA venues, so on Friday the 17th it’s at the WA Maritime Museum in Fremantle, while on Sat it’s at at Curtin University. We’ll be speaking Saturday, 18 September 12:00 pm – 12:55 pm, Room 201 BLDG 501 – Education Building. Tickets here, more info (oh yeah, and there’s a fashion show at Boola Bardip on Sunday too!) at the link above!
You’ll have hopefully seen about town that the Fremantle Arts Centre opening of IOTA21 will be on Friday the 17th, (conference day 1), and I have it on good authority that the John Curtin Gallery (JCG) opening will be happening the week before. I also have penciled in for the JCG opening weekend a Sunday artists and curators talk at the Gallery, on the 12th of September. (That’s still subject to final confirmation, so keep that one on the down low for now, ok?)
And in case you haven’t heard enough from me…
Connexions is finally going to have its grand peacock moment, when the now-expanded exhibition debuts at Gallery Central at Northwest Metropolitan Tafe on Thursday the 30th of September, from 5:30pm. For the opening night we are excited to have secured Australian jewellery luminary Katherine Kalaf to kick of proceedings. Following on from that, we have our artist talk in the gallery on Saturday the 2nd of October at 12pm (hopefully including a zoom component – stay tuned for further details). Further dates and times for the show at the IOTA21 website.
And once I’m done with all that I’ll be taking a vow of silence!
Well, at this end I’ve been working on new pieces for the scaled up Connexions Exhibition, that will have it’s official opening in Perth as a satellite event of IOTA21 on the 30th of September. Mark your diaries for that, and leave the evening of Tuesday the 21st free if you are interested in hearing from myself and my esteemed colleague Sarah Elson (Sarah and me go way back, she first featured on this blog in 2010) in our presentations for the re-calibrated online JMGA conference, Value Chains.
Quite the digressions, it has been a while.
What I came here to say, as indicated in the title, is that we’re coming up on moving day for the Juukan Tears work. It’s scheduled for pickup Friday the 6th of August from 8:30am AWST.
In a stroke of good luck (am I even brave enough to say it out loud? Touching lots of wood right now, y’all) the current forecast is for sun. For those of you not keeping up with the West Australian winter, Perth has broken several records in the rainfall department over July. I have been found complaining to some of my Seattle friends about the quantity of grey days and the unusual brine-y smell that seems adopted from that other WA – Washington State, that is.
OK, back to the task at hand. The work that was the subject of over 4 months of footage on the Melissa Cameron YouTube channel, Juukan Tears, is going to be prepped for relocation, after I complete a couple of important tasks. Thus the channel will be operating with new live footage for a few days next week as the work’s production goes into encore mode!
Not to spoil all the action, but I haven’t yet signed the work and there’s some welding to do to the letter forms now that the best fixing method has been arrived upon. There’s a bit of testing, a bit of wrapping and some more random chatting before we literally send the work off the 1st floor balcony next Friday.
Of course I’m getting the whole gang back together for that event – Susannah Kings-Lynne will be in the house, along wth Bruce, he of occasional cameo fame (mostly in on tech-related matters), alongside our other cameo artist Mir Ng, of short-filming fame.
At this stage I will start at 10:00am AWST on Monday, and I’ll finish up when I’m done wrapping. In other zones that’s at: Auckland – 2:00 pm New York – 10:00 pm* Sydney -12:00 pm Calgary – 8:00 pm* Seattle – 7:00 pm* / / / *Sunday, the 1st if August