to borrow from a fave band, Life Without Buildings, lets get out!

in September!

(safety first y’all)

I will be in Sydney (fingers crossed) for the opening of A-US, my solo exhibition at Bridget Kennedy Project Space, on Thursday the 3rd of September. Look out for updates about virtual artists talks/Q+A in the upcoming months.

Also in September the group show Declaration of Sentiments will finally open at Galerie Pont en Plas in Ghent, Belgium. This is the one that didn’t quite make it to Munich in March. From the 6th of September – 3 October these works will finally get out! Unfortunately I won’t get be able to get that far out but hey, that leaves more room for owner Aline Vandenplas and y’all to get acquainted.

… and on colouring-in

Over here you can find some more pages that will make you smile from the uber-talented jeweller NJR, ready to print and colour! He’s going to be updating it as he makes more drawings so keep checking back for additions. If you are on the Instagram I would suggest following along @njr.drooler, he’s having a great old time drawing up a HUGE storm where he’s currently hunkered down – doing a residency! (ok, no more spoilers.)

If you play along on social media you might have seen me sporting a NJR – Nicholas J Rosin – ring that I commissioned as a parting gift to myself as I left the USA. Yup, from a Canadian. If you remember that you might also remember that I got one from Sally at Fancy and my mate Everett. Keep an eye on them too, they’re both posting cool stuff in lockdown.

Softness p2, Chloe Vallance, 2020

I recently celebrated a lockdown birthday and my beautiful artist buddy Chloe sent me – you guessed it – a personalised colouring book as a birthday gift 😉

Chill time

My lockdown has been… eventful.

In the small mercies column, it’s lucky we couldn’t go on the holiday we had booked.

My father-in-law passed away last weekend after falling ill 6 weeks prior (of non-virus related causes). Visitation has been severely restricted, but in a stroke of luck his partner of 25 years was by his side. He was 81 years old.

In the shit that’s rough column, we’ve now been to a maximum-10-people socially distanced funeral.

Yesterday was the day after the funeral, and I really took the day off. I spent it in my shortie pyjamas (it was 35* here in Perth) pondering a line drawing of a seasonally-related animal. My sisters (the ones with children) had been circulating a colouring in page of an Easter bunny over email that kids and adults alike have been colouring in. My day consisted of sampling colours and inking in a bunny that I’d printed onto watercolour paper. It was good therapy.

I wanted to share it around, but I don’t own the copyright. Then I remembered that I have copyright on a bunch of drawings that I put into a colouring-in book a few years back.

These PDF’s are formatted for US paper sizes – 8.5 x 11″, but they’ll easily print to A4.

If you need a break, I highly recommend it.

y’all ok?

I’m ok. Spent a bit of time in semi-lockdown after Bruce’s colleague was tested, just before his company went to work-from-home mode in Australia. Colleague fine, we’re fine, back to being able to see family in care, at least for the time being.

I work from home and while the local workforce has obviously doubled, I’m pretty ok at sharing. One of six kids, I was trained young 😉

I’m working towards a project for which the outcome has now, like so many, become unstable. We’ve been told by the grant body who is supporting our exhibition to just keep moving forward, so we will do so, with online meetings and relying on photography to share between ourselves. It’s good therapy to be in the studio, listening to podcasts and making big decisions like “white enamel, or black?”.

A friend in healthcare reminded me today that worldwide 1.5 million people died of Tuberculosis in 2018. The WHO fact sheet is pretty interesting reading right now. They’re currently working to end the TB epedemic by 2030. We’ve got form on this, we just gotta show some faith in ourselves.

I have faith in us.

And as to that question above, please feel free to reply. I’d love to hear how you’re doing.

Postponed – Declaration of Sentiments

Throughout the history, the existence of women in social life has been tried to be made invisible.

The woman, who was previously described with symbols of fertility, abundance and goddess , was depicted as an evil creature in the Middle Ages. With the evolution of the matriarchal structure to the patriarchal structure, women were forced to live in a male-dominated world without equality.

In the history of art women artists were ignored, and their work was only associated with craft requiring manual dexterity.

Nevertheless, in this historical process, women artists opposed the marginalization and rejected the gender based roles imposed by the patriarchal system.  They continued their struggle in the field of art by running their own galleries, organizing their own exhibitions and opening their own art schools.

The “Declaration of Sentiments” exhibition was designed as a continuation of this historical process and brought together women artists within the framework of gender based women’s struggle in the art environment.

The exhibition was named after the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Congress, which was held on July 19-20, 1848 under the leadership of Elizabeth CadyStanton. The Declaration was signed by 100 men and women, and this was the first organized women’s rights record in history and an advocacy for equal rights for women.

You’ve probably heard that the Internationale Handwerksmesse München – hosts of Schmuck and Talente – have cancelled the trade fair on the recommendation of the Bavarian Government. Current Obsession, organisers and promoters of the Munich Jewellery Week (MJW) section of the usual Munich exhibition-fest, have set up polls to take the advice of their constituents – people attending and exhibiting in MJW. They have the support of many local shows and are keeping the maps up to date as to who will and won’t be showing. They will be in town providing support for the exhibitions that will be there, and so far there seems to be many shows that will go ahead.

However, Declaration of Sentiments, the touring exhibition that I was invited to participate in (instagram @copluslab) curated by Yasemin Bay, has been postponed. Instead of being in Munich our inaugural exhibition will likely be at Melting Point Valencia in April/May.

If you are elsewhere in Europe you will hopefully get other chances to see it as it tours throughout 2020, in several cities still to be announced. I’ll let you know when I do 🙂

In the mean time, here’s a new Caltrops works I made this year to fill out my collection of these weapons. I have always intended to continue the Caltrops works from the Escalation Series, as I researched and made a timeline of pages and pages of these little devices stretching back close to 2000 years. Yes, there are images of caltrops from around 200 CE; Roman ones from Scotland and some from China. Until now I’ve been occupied with other works and shows, but at the invitation of Yasemin Bay and the rest of the DoS organising team, I was prompted to finally make a couple more of these works.

The works utilise more recent caltrops. Whilst researching I found that they were sold by Amazon in the USA (they still are, and now they’re on Ebay too), so back in 2015 I made replicas of ones used in the US, and of those that were then available for delivery to my house (in Seattle). Unfortunately in 2016 these original works got lost in the mail travelling from one exhibition to another. I was sad to lose these pieces as they had relevance to my personal history, so in restarting this series the first thing I wanted to do was re-establish this connection. When going back into making this weapon I needed the right material, so after searching my boxes and not finding it, I decided to de-accession a couple of baking pans from my kitchen that my receipts show I bought from Amazon in 2015. I reworked the 2015 designs for the new material and ended up with two quite different works. I rarely do this, but in this case one work changed dramatically and I’m really glad to have arrived at this incarnation.

This work is pictured below. This piece replicates homemade caltrops, fashioned from nails bent and welded together, that were found on the US-Mexican border. The piece is named for Texas State Representative Aaron Peña, who banned caltrops in his state at the request of the U.S. Border Patrol.

21st C Caltrop #5 – 2011: AARON PEÑA’s spikes. 2020. Non-stick pie dish, stainless steel.

Radical Jewelry Makeover 2020 – Serious Bling

equity-equality 2, 2019- mixed recycled steel, vitreous enamel, stainless steel, recycled 14ct gold

Serious Bling: Radical Jewelry Makeover – The Artist Project

February 15, 2020 – April 5, 2020

Radical Jewelry Makeover (RJM) is a global recycling project that spotlights gold mining’s devastating impacts and the criticality of sustainable jewelry making practices. Its thriving offshoot, The Artists Project, provides opportunities for professional artists to engage with RJM by creating a series of work using RJM donated jewelry. Through their participation, the artists encourage honest conversations about the difficulties facing jewelers who strive for ethical studio practices that curtail damage to the environment and human health.

Exhibiting artists:
Curtis Arima
Julia Barello
Erica Bello
Angela Bubash
Raissa Bump
Melissa Cameron
Kat Cole
Gabriel Craig and Amy Weiks
Marilyn DaSilva
Sarah Holden
Yevgeniya Kaganovich
Kathleen Kennedy
Deb Lozier
Jina Seo
Stephanie Voegele
Adam Whitney
April Wood
Taylor King

This coming weekend there’s a HUGE program of events called Kick, Turn, Shine in support of the Serious Bling exhibition. If you’re nearby please go check it out and say a warm “Hello!” to Susie Ganch from me 😉

A home in Tacoma

>> I’m republishing this as I had a couple of little corrections from Micki overnight. She also very thoughtfully added a note that I will take up in another post:

I would suggest that you tell a little bit about the research that you did and the heart felt sensitivity that you displayed in this situation.

Micki Lippe

>> I absolutely will. I’ll link to it right here once I’ve done it. Previous posts about this work.

Back when I was living in Seattle I found out that the Tacoma Art Museum in Washington State – a quick trip down the I-5 from my Queen Anne home – has a pretty decent collection of contemporary studio jewellery. More than decent, in fact. I was surprised. Plenty of museums are pro decorative arts and/or craft, but surprisingly few have much on permanent display, or host regular exhibits. It was this AJF article that alerted me to TAM’s collection, in which Rock Hushka (current Director of Northwest Special Projects at TAM) actually said that “The jewelry collection is the fastest growing component of our permanent collection.”

They back up that support in their exhibits – the time I went to the museum was for the opening of Protective Ornament: Contemporary Armor to Amulets curated by Suzanne Ramljak, former editor of Metalsmith magazine. While in town for the opening she also spoke at the 19th Annual Seattle Metals Guild Northwest Jewelry / Metals Symposium in 2014 (for which I was on the organising committee) so us attendees got a special opening reception and tour of the show. At that stage the museum had several permanent display cases set up for jewellery, in which was arranged works by all of the significant Pacific Northwest jewellery artists.

I should also mention that in that article about Rock and TAM, written by Damian Skinner in 2013, Rock says that TAM’s mission is to collect works by Pacific Northwest artists that contain some sort of narrative thread.

Back in 2013, into my second year of making in the USA, I was still reeling from the Sandy Hook massacre and its aftermath of, well, bloody-awful government negligence. Their inaction prompted my action. Come April, I was getting uncomfortable in my studio whilst designing the first pieces of what would become the Escalation Series. Each piece was made from a domestic object, to cement its association with everyday life, and told a story about a particular weapon type. Chosen from history or from current times the weapons I focussed on were intended, when seen together, to reflect our history of being at war with ourselves.

Seeing my works gave Micki Lippe – Seattle jewellery living legend (she’s in the TAM collection of course) – an idea. It soon became the sort of commission that in equal parts delights and fuels dread in the heart of a recycled-object-reworking artist. She gave me the old Stanley lunch box (a beautiful example of 90’s retro chic that any teenager in the 90’s would have coveted, myself included,) that her daughter Tanya owned = delight. Tanya Lippe had died many years earlier = apprehension.

With it she gave me a book of poetry written by Tanya that was published after her death, and told me that maybe I could do something like cut Tanya’s words into the steel. A few pieces would be good, so then she could distribute them to a few of her family members.

I did not cut many of Tanya’s words into the steel – in the end the words I cut were the name of the poem that I used in designing the works, My House, and the name of the collaborators: Tanya’s full name, and my full name.

The rest of what I designed and hand-cut is a whole other story, but the outcome was a piece displayed in the 2016 Bellevue Arts Museum biennial Metalmorphosis. I sought and received permission from Micki to enter my proposal for the work into the juried BAM show, and in a nice piece of symmetry it was displayed around the corner from the works made by Micki that commemorated one of her friend’s losses – her house in rural Washington State to the fires of 2015.

in 2018 I convinced Micki to model the piece for me.

In the image above Micki wears on her back a heavy black cloak made from an unwanted inheritance, while her front drips with an assortment of jewels. The cloak carries images, scenes imagined by her departed daughter; flowers and honey, beach pebbles and pearls, bones and fog, waves and tears. The jewels allow the motifs to intermingle; pearls, tears, flowers, driftwood and wave caps all shimmer and rock against one another.

As the picture illustrates, I’d strayed from the brief more than a little. I had accepted the lunch box as a commission. In changing the brief – Metalmorphosising it you might say – I changed the scale and complexity of the work I was going to deliver. Micki graciously accepted the explosion of her container into a cloak of one colour. And she appreciated its display. But once it was done, neither she nor I felt as though we had ownership of the result. Tanya owned the box, she wrote the poem, it’s her cloak, the jewels are formed to her words.

To step around the issue for a bit we wrote a proposal to exhibit our works together, but our two sets of black jewels would defy our attempts. Perhaps it was our proposal, or maybe it was the content.

The cloak gives form to a poem by a Northwest artist, made for her mother, a Northwest artist, by storyteller who was at that time living in the Northwest. As a keeper on Northwest stories it seemed logical that Tacoma Art Museum to be its caretaker, so Micki and I asked them to accept My House – Tanya Lippe’s Lunch Box as a gift. Towards the end of last year they graciously accepted.

In its particulars, this is a Northwest story. My House, the poem, captures a moment of Tanya’s life in Seattle. Her work and therefore mine reference Northwest scenes; where Tanya mentions a prison, I found an image of a fence at a local women’s facility to portray; where it says ocean, I sourced another of a choppy day in Puget Sound.

More broadly though, the narrative of this work must include the facts of its existence. The mutually acknowledged owner of the work, my collaborator on the project, is dead. Were she living she may never have consented to the publication of her poem My House – in fact she may never have sought the publication of any poems. Were she living the lunch box would not have become the property of her mother, and would not have accrued the significance that it had by the time it was handed over to me. And we may or may not have met, making our collaboration even less likely.

Were she living, this would not be her work. But because she is not, it is.

Loss caused the piece to exist. It had to effect the form, in that it was made for Micki because of her loss.

This part of story is of course not unique to the Northwest. A mother’s grief, the continuance of life in the face of trauma, learning to live with loss, and the accrual of baggage; these stories are universal. They are the invisible version of this cloak and jewels, the ones we wear everyday. For Micki, and because of Tanya, I was able to manifest this version.

2019 – 2 shows that were

I’m clearing out he inbox during the quiet season and I’ve found a few images of my works on display that I thought I’d share. First up, MasterMakers. (links today are to my earlier posts)

MasterMakers exhibition ©RMIT Gallery. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy
my works are a pair just south-east of the midpoint of this great photo. ©RMIT Gallery. Photo: Mark Ashkanasy

What can I say – I wish I saw this one. The photos are amazing. It got a write-up in Art Month Australasia. Look out for it touring in 2020.

Purpose Process Paper

This one was a part of SNAG in Chicago. Another one I really wanted to see. Big thanks to Kiff Slemmons and Cat Bowyer for the images, and for sending me the prints you made.

Installation image – Kiff Slemmons studio
The ‘paperwork’ for 1.1.2017 as printed and installed.

I was really proud to be invited to take part in these two shows. Thanks to all involved in mounting and documenting them both. I can’t travel as much as my work does, (though sometimes it seems like I’m trying to give it a go,) so I’m very glad my little emissaries get to be there for me.