to anyone who got sent to Twitch instead of YouTube by clicking on my link yesterday, I’m really sorry. I don’t know where the twitch link came from – I had that URL in a draft of one of my posts for a tiny moment, 6 weeks ago! I did make the mistake of copying an pasting from a previous post, but it was the published version that links to YouTube! Be aware folks, the internet NEVER forgets…
On the upside, we had a great q+a with a bunch of email questions and live questions from Instagram thanks to my dm’s, and you can go back in time to catch it all here:
In May of 2020 mining company Rio Tinto destroyed the Juukan Shelters, containing sacred caves that had been in use by the traditional custodians of that part of (what we now call) Western Australia, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) peoples, for over 46,000 years. The Shelters were in the remote Pilbara region of WA, and were located within the Brockman 4 mine, one among Rio Tinto’s 16 iron ore mines in the region. The PKKP had registered their objections to the extension of the mine into the area of the Juukan Shelters for several years, but owing to an outdated WA Government permit system that allows for no objections once a mining permit is issued, and an unequal and paternalistic mining rights negotiation process that effectively gags First Nation recipients of mining money, their cries went unheeded.
Since then the blast has received significant public outcry and media attention in Australia and been subject to a government inquiry, not least because recent archaeological excavations had found ancient human hair, proving continual human use of the shelters for 46,000 years.
Western Australia is home to Rio Tinto Iron Ore, and its capital, Perth, the city where I live, boasts the Rio Tinto office tower (also known as Central Park) as its tallest building. In a relatively small and topographically flat city it is visible from many kilometers away, including from my house – and my studio space – in North Perth.
My response to the shameful destruction of sacred sites and continued silencing of our First Nations people, (not to mention the over representation of environmental abusers like Rio Tinto in the skyline of Perth), is this work, with the working title Juukan Tears. It is a piece in two sections, the largest a wall hanging approximately 4m (13′) tall by 1.3m (4.3′) wide, the second section being a group 46 chains that are each approximately 1.8m long. It is made out of recycled custom orb, a common fencing and building material made from galvinised steel, which was previously the siding and roofing material of my back shed. (Image at this post.)
The first and larger part of the work contains a rendering of the Rio Tinto headquarters in Perth, with line-work “drawn” in different amalgamations of teardrop shapes. The second piece makes use of the 4,600 teardrop shapes, representing 10% of the 46,000 years of history lost when the Juukan Shelters were destroyed last May, to make chains of tears. Groups of 100 teardrops are joined to make 46 chains that will be hung next to the drawing, which combined makes approximately 80m (260′) of chain.
I am grateful to the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries in Western Australia for their financial support of this project, and to the IOTA and John Curtin Gallery curatorial teams for their support of this work and my greater practice.
11am on Friday the 19th of February, Perth time (see below for your timezone) we’re having a live q+a on my YouTube channel about the piece – working title Juukan Tears – that me and my assistant Susannah Kings-Lynne are currently working on in my studio.
If you have a question you’d like to put to us – any question – please feel free to send it to me in advance (jewellery at melissacameron.net) or you can write it in the comments section of the live feed once we get going. We’ll be answering questions and talking making (such as why we are hand-slicing such a ridiculously large work) live for an hour, while working on some chain. We’d love to see you in the chat 😉
7 p.m.: Seattle **Thurs 18th 10 p.m.: Philadelphia **Thurs 18th 3 a.m.: UK **Fri 19th 4 a.m.: Italy 8:30 a.m.: India 11 a.m.: Perth/China/Singapore 1 p.m.: Brisbane 2 p.m.: Melbourne/Sydney 4 p.m.: New Zealand
Tomorrow I’ll share more about the work, and don’t forget you can see me (and on Mondays and Fridays, Susannah too) working on it in my studio. I’ve got the camera on Monday to Friday (Perth time) which you can see live and through archived streams at that YouTube link above.
I’m still live-streaming from the studio Monday – Friday, 9am-ish till 5pmish, minus lunch time. This was to be the first full week of our current routine, in which my colleague Susannah Kings-Lynne joins in the action on Mondays and Fridays for 5 hours per day.*
But even before we could begin our uninterrupted week the routine was broken, due to our cautiousness over the new COVID-19 lockdown put in place in Perth last night at 6pm. We’ll reassess before Friday, but today it’s just gonna be me grinding away at the sheets of steel.
For a preview, here’s last Friday morning’s stream. If you skip in about 1hr and 25 mins you can see our inaugural 10:30am race, where I challenged Susannah to see who could get through a set length of sawing first 😉
Hit the live-stream through this link if you want to see the latest. (Having posted this I’m now running late so look for me after 9:30am WST today..!)
* I started the project midweek and I’ve had some time away from the bench with summer holidays, ergo no complete Mon-Fri as yet.
Well, if you sneak over to the Bilk websiteright now you can cop a look at all the works destined to be officially “opened” tomorrow. And if that weren’t enough, if you take a shine to a work you can go buy it in the shop, too!
OK, on closer inspection that first link does say that pieces will be available to purchase online from 12 noon (I’m assuming Canberra time) tomorrow, so maybe don’t take my word as gospel….
But please, one way or the other, see the show. There’s such a beautiful and diverse richness to this collection, and once again I’m proud to be amongst such a talented and thoughtful group of makers.