humble apologies

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:

And we will be live again on Monday, right here: https://www.youtube.com/c/MelissaCameron-artist

Juukan Tears

wip, February 2021

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their objections to the extension of the mine into the area of the Juukan Shelters for several years, but owing to an outdated WA Government permit system that allows for no objections once a mining permit is issued, and an unequal and paternalistic mining rights negotiation process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.

The drawing, or wall hanging, is itself also cut into 382 rectangular forms, to represent all of the holes drilled into the Juukan Shelters on the Brockman 4 mine site before the “Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Traditional Owners were made aware of the planned blast on May 15.” Within the background, using length and order of these 382 pieces, is depicted a message in a modified version of Morse Code. When decoded it reads: “46,000 year old Juukan shelters destroyed for…iron ore”

As mentioned previously, this work will debut at the John Curtin Gallery at Curtin University for the Indian Ocean Triennial Australia – IOTA21 – in September 2021.

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.

Marfa, TX

In 2017 I went on vacation to Marfa, TX, with Bruce and Elaine. It’s in the Chihuahuan desert; there, dropped steel has a long life on the ground. Seeing steel, and knowing I could geotag what I picked up using my phone’s camera, I started a solo scavenger hunt. It covered a campsite; a former US military base (now a part of the Chinati Foundation); the grounds of hotels, diners, galleries and museums; and the dusty streets and sidewalks of the town.

This map shows what I found where, and when.

click on a point to see the find in that location

Photo Shoot this Saturday!

Thank you to the big flock of people who have signed up already, and sorry to everyone for still harping on about this, but we’re really, really close to making our volunteer target for Saturday’s photo shoot. If you have been thinking about signing up but just haven’t got around to it yet, I’d really appreciate you (and your mates!) getting on board today.

Sign up here

This will be the only opportunity to see these neckpieces in Seattle, as the whole work (both the pendants and containers from which they were cut – 146 pieces all told) will go on display in the exhibition Transformations 10 at Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh in September. And as most of y’all know, not long after that I move back to Australia so I won’t be in the USA to organize a Seattle venue.

And to keep us all sane despite the idea behind the pieces we’re photographing, we are working hard behind the scenes to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone!

For the last time – photo shoot details at-a-glance:

– 7/7/18, 8am – 12pm
– Meet at the parking lot under the Fremont Bridge (not next to the Troll – the one that opens)
– 8am-9am sign in
– 9am-12pm all 73 people in 73 different gun-shaped pendants stand together for the shoot (if we finish early we all go home early)
– You wear something comfortable with dark top-half and no logos, I loan you a pendant to wear for the morning
– Drinks and snacks provided
– Kids, families welcome – but no pets please.

Can You Help – Update

*** UPDATED June 8th*** – Thank you everyone who has participated – the list is much smaller!

I have not yet been promised an object for my project from the places listed below. Please let me know (blog@melissacameron.net) if you can send me a container from one of these towns, and I will take it off the list.

Full details here.

Address for shipping your container:
Melissa Cameron
2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. #412
Seattle WA 98109

State City Or County #
Alabama Athens
Alabama Birmingham
Georgia Allenhurst
Georgia Moultrie
Illinois Villa Park
Illinois Rockford
Illinois Chicago 3
Louisiana Anacoco 3
Mississippi Meridian
North Carolina Asheboro 2
South Carolina North Charleston
South Dakota Rapid City
Tennessee Nolensville
Texas Edcouch

And please, no glass, ceramic, enameled metal or stainless steel. Use a magnet to test your steel – if it sticks, I’ll take it!

SNAG 2018

For those of y’all headed to Portland for the SNAG conference, here’s a few things I’m involved with that I’d love for you to check in on:

1\ Crossings

See works by SMG and CMAG members at Crossings in the Pearl District

Crossings is a combined show of Portland Creative Metal Arts Guild (CMAG) and Seattle Metals Guild (SMG) members. Come check out the best of the Northwest!

It’s on at: Annie Meyer Gallery
Wednesday 23r​d​ May-Saturday the 26t​h​ May
12-5:30pm and during Gallery Crawl – 5-8pm on Thursday
120 NW 9th Ave Ste 102, Portland, Oregon 97209

The Crossings show explores the intersection of diverse disciplines, processes, and media. Artists were encouraged to work across craft boundaries such as incorporating ceramics, wood, or glass. Collaborations between artists were also encouraged. This show represents a cross section of our metals communities and a wide variety of styles and materials will be represented, including jewelry and sculpture.

It’s the only exhibition I’m involved in that’s in a real gallery, so please get out and support it!

/ / /

The rest are a part of SNAG’s own Adorned Spaces, which runs Thursday, May 24th, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm and Friday, May 25th, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm at the conference venue: Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront, 1401 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR.

2\ (Un)common Interest

Curated by (and including) Sharon Massey, it showcases: April Wood, Ben Dory, Kat Cole, Jim Dunn, Michael Dale Bernard, Jessica Tolbert, Maia Leppo, Lynn Batchelder, Melissa Cameron, Sarah Holden and Michael Hull. Need a hint as to why we’re all together in this one? We all like to work in STEEL! (who doesn’t?)

See in rooms G,H and I next to the main ballroom that is hosting all of the presentations.

3\ In Touch

Katja Toporski and Anja Eichler’s co-curated exhibition from Munich Jewellery Week, In Touch, is getting a second outing just for SNAG, and I for one am very pumped to finally see it! And see it I will, long and often, as it is kitty-corner (don’t you love Americanisms?) from the Plate Glass show, in Salons C + D, on the same level as the main SNAG presentation venue!

This time it will feature one of my award-winning social unit works beautifully arranged, as I (and the universe – I did not invent the signage from which it takes its form,) originally intended.

…hopefully… There’s a lot to get done that afternoon, folks, because…

4\ Plate Glass

is having it’s 3rd and final outing in the USA. I’m making the display equipment out of cardboard, while coordinating the object drop-off for my current container-to-jewellery barter scheme (which is ultimately to complete the Monday-Gun Day project) which means I have also been able to add to the design a handy place to stash all the containers I receive from you this week!

Please consider helping out with the swap project if you can (forward it on to those distant cousins in Florida, why doncha? – or if you are at SNAG, I’ll have self-addressed padded envelopes for you to pick up to help you mail me something in return for your jewel), and definitely come and see this show. It’s received rave reviews in its two previous incarnations, and I think this is the best display yet! (Or it will be when I finish it…)

Phew! And if you’re chillin around these parts often, (and coming to P-town this week) you might recall I mentioned that it was my birthday couple of weeks back. The hottest rumor is a combined Seattle-peeps birthday celebration on one of the nights… Come say helloooo and get the skinny.

Can you help?

*** UPDATED June 20th***

containers from my collection

As I promised last week, I’m back in the US from Australia, where I was celebrating my 40th birthday with my family!

And now I’m here, I have a favor to ask:

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with my series of posts, entitled: Monday – Gun Day, where I have been cataloguing the weapons used in each of the fatal shootings in the US on January 1st, 2017. (There’s more intel as to why in this post.) Thanks to the incredible resources of the Gun Violence Archive I’m almost through the research phase – in which I made drawings of all the guns used in fatal incidents on that day – and I’m ready to start making.

I was going to used objects – containers specifically – that I had to hand, but now that doesn’t feel right. I have objects from all over the place – I’ve picked them up in my travels throughout North America, Australia, Asia and Europe. And that is the problem. The rate of gun violence, as we are now almost constantly being reminded, is unique to each country. So using objects from other places in a project referencing gun violence in the USA doesn’t ring true.

So I suddenly find myself in need of containers from a specific list of places. Fifty-four places, in fact. And if you have a friend or relative in the area, please feel free to pass this along.

This is where you come in. If you happen to live in one of the places listed:

Send me a container to become a permanent part of this artwork, and I  will send you a limited edition jewellery piece in return.

I sense your next question: “Container, what kind of container?”

Practically anything accepted – well washed food tins, plastic milk containers or even a yogurt tub, I don’t mind. Upcycle or re-gift me, please! I love a thrift store find, or new things from grocery stores or markets – I seek and find all over. Wood too! I just need to be able to cut or saw-pierce a motif into it, so not too thick, but most materials accepted. (Preferably not stainless steel – the best way to check that tiny, cute but essentially useless colander you have is with a magnet. I love magnetic steels – I’ll cut them for days – but if it doesn’t stick it’s probably regular stainless.)

Map from the Gun Violence Archive – Interactive Map

I’m looking for a single container (though multiples needed in a few places) from each of the places listed below. Or, if you own a souvenir item from one of these places, that you are willing to part with, I would gladly accept it. (And yes, I do consider ashtrays, coasters and trays containers, too. See image at top for a portion of my current stash.)

Logistics:

1/ Get in touch – blog@melissacameron.net

  • Please be in contact before you send something, to make sure I have not yet received anything from your place. I only need one container from most of this list, and so I’ll work on a first-come, first served basis.
  • If you happen to have an item in mind, please email me a photo of the container I can used for planning. I will also add your object as ‘pending’ on my list for others to see.

2/ Send the item (to arrive by  June 20th, 2018)

    • to:

Melissa Cameron
2212 Queen Anne Ave. N. #412
Seattle WA 98109

  • Naturally, include the place name of the object in the packaging, as well as a name/address + email contact to ensure you get your jewel

3/ Jewels shipped in August

  • stay tuned to the blog for developments of this very special limited series.

*** List of places still remaining – June 20th update***  (and updated printable list of Places June 8 – this includes all the maybe’s – if you are in a place that I have only a maybe commitment, please get in touch!):

State City Or County
Alabama Birmingham
Georgia Allenhurst
Georgia Moultrie
Illinois Rockford
South Dakota Rapid City

Yes, it’s like a Kickstarter but instead of cash, it’s local objects being turned into jewels. A barter-kickstarter, if you will. Please pass this along, and lets come together and make some art!

 

Queries? Please email me: blog@melissacameron.net

Pratt Fine Arts Center – Class!

Julia at Pratt has me slated to lead a workshop in April. Please come, it’s probably your last chance to see me teaching at Pratt Fine Arts Center here in Seattle for a while.

Workshop: Liquid Enamel for Steel and Copper
Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15 
9:30 AM-5:30 PM
Jewelry Studios – Pratt Fine Arts Center
1902 South Main Street
Seattle
206.328.2200

Fingers crossed I get to see my two favourite regulars there (you know who you are 🙂 )

Explaining Monday – Gun Day

**HERE LIVES THE MOTHER OF ALL TRIGGER WARNINGS**

There’s been a lot of news about guns in the last week. Last Tuesday I filed this article away for inclusion in today’s regular post; the Guardian reported that Remington was filing for bankruptcy, due at least in part to what they had termed “‘The Trump slump.'” A friendly administration for the gun lobby, and gun owners, has spelled radically decreased sales for gun manufacturers. But then on Wednesday, in a turn-around that would give you whiplash were you researching anything other than gun violence in the US, there was a mass shooting at a school in Florida on Valentine’s day. The cycle begins again.

My Monday – Gun Day series began on the 9th of October, 2017, a week and a day after the largest mass shooting involving a single perpetrator in US history had taken place in Las Vegas (all the modifiers are to remind us that there have been larger massacres in US history, usually racially motivated like that at Wounded Knee, or the Colfax Massacre, which was perpetrated by white Southern Democrats against about 150 black men.)

Since then, across 16 posts (including this one) made on Mondays (US Pacific time), I’ve been sharing my research about guns, and more specifically, the guns used in the 63 incidents in which people were killed on January 1st, 2017. But why? Well, firstly, some backstory that might help to explain.

I began the Monday – Gun Day series with an introduction to my work Gun from 2013/14. To design the work I replicated the AR-15 knock-off (made by Remington) used in the Sandy Hook mass shooting of 2012, into which I incorporated facts and figures I had researched about that days killings, which was, at that time, the second most deadly mass shooting perpetrated by a single person ever in the United States. I was making a series of pieces that used the tools of war to make a statement about humanity’s continuing poor relationship with itself, which I entitled The Escalation Series. My use of this gun, with all of its associations, pointed out an additional fact; the other tools of war I made pieces about were designed for, and were chiefly only accessible to, organised armies. This weapon, designed for and known as as the M-16 in the US armed forces, was and still is far too easily accessible to regular citizens of this country.

I thought after The Escalation series, in which I made jewellery pieces that depicted the following weapons of war:

tank
cannon
arrow
fire arrow
sword
gun
rpg
drone
cartridges with Minié ball bullets
Lapua Magnum shells (sniper rifle shells) from Combat Paper
multiple caltrops

as well as 3 versions of HEAT, a work (pictured below) that shows the molten metal spatter and penetration of a HEAT missile through armoured tank steel, that my association with weapons was done for a while. My focus had made a gentle pivot which saw me making mosaics out of enamelled laser cut steel, with which I could write by turns gentle, piercing and witty messages in binary.

From the series HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015
Strike
9 wall-mounted panels (565mm x 565mm – 22 3/16″ x 22 3/16″)
Stainless steel, vitreous enamel. Image Melissa Cameron.

From the series HEAT, (1 of 3) 2015
Spatter
neckpiece (480mm x 480mcm – 19″ x 19″)
Stainless steel, vitreous enamel, titanium. Image Melissa Cameron.

 

Then two things happened. I had been recently juried into the Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize, for which I am to make a work out of found materials, and on the 1st of October I decided to do a stock-take of all the found objects I have lying about in my study, the same day that the current most deadly mass shooting perpetrated in modern times (this seems to be accepted as anything since 1950,) by a single shooter, happened.

Having memorialised a single-person shooting before, I did not want to go down that route again. I’ve read a lot of stories about Sandy Hook, and will continue to do so the rest of my days (it’s reportage on unjustified killings of defenseless white children in a 1st world nation, and thanks to our social/political/class climate, we will find it in the media for the foreseeable future,) and it’s a lot. And I don’t want to have to repeat myself.

I have other things that horrify me just as much as 59 deaths by one person in a day. 59 deaths on any day is a pretty shit day by most of the world’s standards, and I wanted a way to make that point. So I picked a day, New Year’s Day 2017, and got to work.

We know the weapons of the mass shootings because they get so much publicity. (The Guardian already has 3 pages of articles about last week’s shooting.)  [I’m getting cynical, which I usually try to banish from my writings, but it’s almost as if the amount of publicity is inverse to the amount of action that will be taken against the problem, despite the fact that I learned in another Guardian article linked to the Trump Slump article that, “Only 22 to 31% of Americans adults say they personally own a gun.” And what they call “gun super-ownership” is actually concentrated to 3% of the population.] Anyway, digressions aside. We know so little about the other gun deaths that happen in this country because everyone is so inured by the frequency of the killings that everyday gun violence doesn’t make it to the national news. But the weapons used by the mass murderer are studied ad nauseam, so of course we learn about the guns, the shells, the alternate weapons, the victims, the scene, the police department response, the slow and painful moving on.

But what about all the the other shootings? Which guns are responsible there?

Hopefully in just a few years time the gun lobby will face a shakedown that will be compared to that experienced by the tobacco lobby, and their unconscionable actions will be pored over in as much details as the lives of those involved in the Sandy Hook massacre. For right now, I’ve learned that there are great resources for finding out who was killed, when, and where, and more loosely, how. What’s becoming clear is that there is no focus put on the gun responsible, nor its manufacturer. In any other arena, should over 30,000 people get killed by any single type of object in a year, we, the public, would cry out for all the statistics on the make, model, age and condition of the thing responsible.

Thus my research project; for each person listed as killed on the Gun Violence Archive on the 1st of January, 2017, I am finding out what make and model of gun killed them, (or my best estimation thereof,) to draw a picture of what that gun looked like.

And when I have a picture of those weapons, I’m going to make a wearable piece of jewellery that incorporates every f*cking one of them.

The resistance is growing

And so too is my line of jewellery, entitled Resist.

Resist Drop earrings, Resist neckpiece, ÿ neckpiece

The ÿ neckpiece is the latest addition to the series, and yes, it is the type of welded steel chain one might normally use to doubly secure one’s trailer to the hitch at the back of the car. I got it at my local hardware store (Shout out to 5 Corners Hardware – yes, not to be confused with the 5 Spot – a diner also in Queen Anne, or 5 Point Cafe, just down the road in Belltown. If you’ve not visited Seattle, and Queen Anne especially, the crosswalk motif is ‘at least 5 lanes of traffic, awkwardly conjoined’ and is somehow considered a whimsical feature. Shout out to Sydney, AU, I know you know this scene…) a year or so ago when contemplating chains for my piece for Boris Bally’s gun show Imagine. This length has thus been hanging on the door to my basement studio for long enough to leave semi-circular marks as the chain frequently arced across the door, tethered by a single nail.

I was gradually sandblasting every scrap of steel chain I could come up with in my studio, and one day I was sitting at my enamel bench when I realised there was one I hadn’t tried. Cut to 20 minutes later, after hand sawning a sacrificial link *twice* in order to separate it from the rest of the length (the chain is just too thick to try and bend to get away with one cut alone), I was hugging the sandblaster in my usual fashion. Because zinc is a neurotoxin at just about the same temperature that enamel fires, it pays to assiduously remove all traces of galvanisation. Once blasted, I painted on a pretty swatch of my favourite blue of the day, fired, and viola! I had a beautiful chain, that read ‘ÿ’ in binary, because, well, ÿ are we in this mess…?

And in case you’re new, ÿ binary, or even, ÿ blue?

In the Resist system of binary/ascii* communication, the 0’s and 1’s of binary code are switched from numbers to colors, gray and blue respectively. By individually enameling each part of a piece in the correct sequence, I encode words like ‘no’ onto earrings, or ‘resist’ onto pins and neckpieces.

So why blue? Because that color is the opposite of orange on the traditional color wheel.

‘no’ chain earrings

These little messages in jewellery form are each hand-made and hand-enamelled in stainless steel, with titanium rivets and ear hooks on the ‘Resist tile’ pieces. They are very reasonably priced, and in some sort of seasonal coincidence, all of my stores have just been resupplied! What [in]credible timing!

Please go check out these pretties ‘in the real’ in Australia at:

Bilk Gallery – Canberra
Studio 20/17 Project Space – Sydney
Bini Gallery – Melbourne

and in Seattle and surrounds at:

Bellevue Arts Museum Store
Danaca Design
Fancy

And if you’re around Seattle’s U district this coming Friday, Danaca Design is having its first ever Black Friday Jewelry Sale!

Tis the season to buy into the beautifully handmade resistance.

 

 

 

As ever, 5% the artist’s price from this series goes to Islamic Relief USA, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit humanitarian agency, whose work includes domestic and international development and relief projects.

*gotta put ASCII in there or I’ll have to face a nerd uprising