I’ve done a bit of house-keeping today, and finally added my SNAGnext presentation from May to the list of conference papers, located over in that sidebar to the left (or above if you’re moblie-y inclined). While I was there, I made Conference Papers into its own menu, so that you can now easily reach each of the three papers I’ve delivered to a few select audiences over the years. The new one I added today, and also (as of today) the 2013 paper from the JMGA conference in Brisbane, have in-line slides that go along with the text, which add something interesting to look at, especially useful if you get bored of all those words.
Below are links to each of them, starting from the most recent and working my way back. (And yes, I hope to work on sorting out the same deal for the symposium papers next 😉 )
3/ This final one has been kicking around on the internet for a while – my presentation for the 2010 JMGA conference in Perth held at the Central Institute of Technology in April of that year, entitled:
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…
After finishing up the JMGA conference on Sunday the 14th in Brisbane, I travelled on to Melbourne for a couple of openings and a symposium before heading home to Seattle. Upon landing in Melbourne on Monday I headed directly to the Project Space/Spare Room gallery, as I mentioned previously, to fondle the artworks (including my own) alongside curator Claire McArdle.
Also mentioned previously, Elizabeth Turrell my enamel-on-steel mentor was in town to teach a workshop at RMIT University, so on Wednesday night I went to see her speak about her work. Elizabeth, as she mentioned on the night, is quite reluctant to speak about her own pieces, so it was a unique opportunity for me to find out about a few other projects that she has been involved with, as well as see images of some that had been described to me while I was studying with her in Bristol.
On Thursday night I attended the opening of Words and Works form a World Away and got to read up about each of the individual works, which added another layer of meaning to an already impressive array that I had, by that stage, already spent a bit of time with.
On Friday I attended and spoke at the Seams Seems symposium at MADA – Monash Art Design and Architecture at the Caulfield campus. There I also got to see the Seams Seems exhibition. More on both of those events soon, though for the canny amongst you, you may have already noticed that I have put up my full text of the presentation from the Seams Seems symposium in the newly added ‘Symposia‘ link above.
or: What went down in BrisVegas doesn’t necessarily stay in BrisVegas…
This was my 3rd JMGA conference, my first being in 2008 in Adelaide while I was a masters student. My first experience was a great one – though the main feeling I remember taking away from it was that “I’ve found my people!” After being an interior designer and attending Design Institute of Australia conferences and other expos in the design world, this was my first opportunity to gather amongst the professionals (or grown-ups) of my new industry. I was immediately surprised by how likeable and moreover how similar everyone else seemed to me, right down to the dress sense! This year I was out to recapture the excitement of that experience, owing to the new city (I’d only flown through Brisbane up until this point) and the length of time it had been for me between seeing my jewellery-folk. It wasn’t all my fault, it had been an extra year between conferences owing to the Brisbane flooding and for me it had been over twelve months since I had caught up with many of the other attendees.
So, come the first morning I was ready and raring to get amongst some full-on conference action, and while this year I was not dressed in black like all the rest of my people (you call that winter, Brisbane?! though the wonderfully colourful Danae Natsis was giving me a run for my money so I didn’t feel out of place) I was keen to hear what everyone had to say.
The conference proper began on Friday the 12th of July, and the opening salvo was by our first keynote speaker Peter Deckers, who, in an early slide had me wondering what the hell I am hoping to achieve by remaining in the art jewellery world. Are we all clinging to the sinking ship? While that question didn’t specifically get answered during the course of the next three days (yet it often seemed to loom), I did have plenty of chances for a consensual love-in with my fellow jewellery-kind as we were treated to some great presentations. The better ones dwelt on the Participation and Exchange of the theme, showing in real and dynamic ways that jewellers, and the objects that they make, can make enduring connections to the society they are a part of.
The standouts for me were (and I’m not totally relying on memory for this, I take notes when I’m more engaged in these events, to the point that it’s almost mathematical – more notes = more interest) Peter Deckers, Roseanne Bartley, Tricia Flanagan, Genie Lee, Kevin Murray, Laura Bradshaw-Heap and Kristin D’Agostino. Now, I also really enjoyed Christine Scott-Young talking about Part B and Mary Hackett on the topic of Blacksmith Doris, but these guys are good friends whose projects I know fairly well, so while I took no notes, I certainly enjoyed their presentations and particularly the opportunity to talk about and listen to the questions that came directly after them. Also I took a bucketload of images during the engaging and delightful presentation made by Mel Young and Lauren Simeoni, so if I go by weight of pictures these two totally won the conference!
It has been a while and these ramblings are not polished, so apologies to all if I misrepresent anyone or anything in what is to follow, but I’d like to make some connections between the speakers that I have noted. Some of these formed on the day(s), and a few leapt from the pages of my notebook as I assembled these thoughts. (I also feel bad that I did not go to town on reviewing this conference as I did on the SNAG one earlier this year for the AJF website, but as a presenter I felt that I lacked the critical distance necessary.)
In semi-chronological-order, (I am going to break that later on, sort of) after Peter Deckers pointed out the worries of the Eurozone, I have on my list Roseanne Bartley who presented Thinking Big with Something Small. Bartley’s dissection of the notion that comes across any right-thinking makers mind, namely, that it is supremely naive to expect that one could ‘use jewellery to change the world’, left me feeling better about my decision to walk this path, and added a sense of importance to her presentation of how she goes about her practice with this explicit aim in mind. A different, or perhaps fuller explanation recontextualised, in my mind, the works of hers that I know and have seen her present before both at other symposia and in the gallery.
In a similar vein yet in the opposite direction, Kevin Murray (at the end of day 2) with India Australia Dialogue-An Indian Rite of Passage for Australian Jewellery, began his presentation about art jewellery and jewellery in general in India, and used this to flip what I knew about his previous projects in India on its head. He illustrated his words with the images of Katheryn Leopoldseder‘s pieces of dwellings – with the idea that the house is possibly the location of one’s status and wealth in Australia, whereas in India that place is more likely the body. This idea therefore explains the high importance that pure gold has in the jewellery worn there, noting that while each system is different, neither is ‘better’. This, added to the Indian art jewellers he presented on, I felt that this context added a new dimension to the later part of his presentation, giving greater weight to the notion that owing to the lack (or at least incredibly low incidence) of those in the art jewellery world – or perhaps any other designers/artists – using the methods and skills available in that country, there are artisans having to give up their trade (in other crafts, yet ones sympathetic with jewellery that could be used by art jewellers from outside if they found an appropriate inlet into – or outlet for – such skills) owing to it not being a profitable living. Once again (as I have seen this happen at other fora) this discussion became contentious in a room full of makers for whom the design and output of their works is only arrived at via the intrinsic nature of their making process, and thus to whom outsourcing is almost an anathema. The artists discussing this were passionate about keeping their local skilled workforce; which I felt in some way was the same point that Murray was trying to make, but in a broader sense. He appeared to be arguing that the handmade is culturally on a precipice, and if someone (including outside artisans if the local ones can only see jewellery as gold) does not save the artisan in India, this knowledge will be permanently lost, to all of us.
It is interesting that in Australia, as in the USA (as I discuss at leeeength here) there is still very significant ties to the idea of the artisan (simultaneously skilled ideator and maker) in the art jewellery world. Murray noted during the discussion following his presentation that there is a division of labour in other artforms, and that he considers the idea of art jewellery artisan to be a romantic view often adhered to by jewellers, and that in reality we need not be the same person (and this is where my thoughts of that sinking ship, ahem, resurface.) But it is a premise that I find I have to agree with. As you would have noticed, I am using the term art jeweller throughout this text, and deliberately because I feel it best encapsulates the audience who collected and the artists who spoke at this conference. I also feel that ‘art jeweller’ as a notion in the very wording implies the ability for the separation of idea/thought from action. (Admittedly, an equally if not more popular descriptor at this conference was ‘maker’.) I too believe that there is the ability for some form of reciprocity with the material that can also coincide with a new version of outsourcing (the more difficult ‘sell’ in Murray’s particular presentation, I do realise), and that jewellery has a long and continuing history of using different skills from different people to make a single object. [And while art jewellery at first distinguished itself from ‘high street’ jewellery by claims of single-artist authorship, they often collaborated with materials that had gone through significant human-interference before they could even begin to make claims as to that authorship.]
In between these two presentations, which happened more than a day apart, were the presentations from another keynote speaker Tricia Flanagan, and Genie Lee. Flanagan presented on her many community focused projects (she is a public artist with links to fashion and objects, so in her practice covers similar ground to many art jewellers) though it was her ability to plant herself square in her contextual territory – in what she said was “A post acquisitive society” and in a “Western capitalist context” – that impressed me most.
This self awareness, and her notion of the role of the artist in the world as an outsider, observer and even community facilitator had parallels in the presentation by another keynote speaker, Laura Bradshaw-Heap. Heading up day three as our final keynote, Bradshaw-Heap noted that her work is “A means to meet, work and create with new people.” She presented her jewellery works and her social projects, the two sides to an interesting and varied artistic practice. She spoke further about her making with community groups, and how she has to carefully distinguish this work from the studio making that she does in relation and reaction to this work. She also mentioned that she is actually preparing to pursue further studies in ethnography, owing to her discomfort in the slippage that occurs in her own practice between relational art and ethnography.
The other presentation that split Murray and Bartley was one by New Zealand MFA student Genie Lee, Between You, Your Object and the space in-between. Despite her revealing that she had been chided by the organisers for not having a highly academic paper, nor a proper ending, I was completely charmed by her project; which was asking migrants like herself to think of the most important thing that they brought with them on their journey. She photographed each person as they told the story of their journey and the object (many of them being jewels), in their own home. These photographs, along with the story, was what she presented to us. In her opening she spoke of jewellery in physiological terms, that it is a transitional object, and her presentation bore out her point that jewellery making is us creating a second heart to pass on.
And once again, the similarity of Lee’s content to Kristin D’Agostino’s final-day presentation, with her thoughts Dipping a toe in the participatory realm: Project versus Practice is serendipitous. D’Agostino is (by proxy) another artist from the New Zealand contingent (there were many speakers from NZ this year, a fact that I really appreciated as I got the opportunity to meet people like Kristin with whom I have corresponded for years but had not yet met.) She shared her thoughts on jewellery practice in general – that jewellery is the original participatory art as, “This art is incomplete without the viewer’s physical interaction.” as well as the more participatory projects that she is involved with – The Overview Newsletter and the Broach of the Month club. Once again it is a maker involving the public in her projects, by force if necessary, getting her (and others’) pieces out into the world and then having the wearer tell the story of what it’s like out there as human plinth art-jewellery wearer.
At this point I have to congratulate the organisers, and particularly Catherine Large and Elizabeth Shaw, who were precious about keeping to the theme, thus ensuring quality time to properly pursue the interests of the audience through the dialogue resulting at the end of each presentation. There were many issues wrestled throughout the weekend, that in the follow-up were collectively dissected or hammered home through this discussion, and I thought the level of discourse was encouragingly high.
Finally, if you do want to read my presentation, How to become an artist jeweller: a community case study, or as I amended it on the day – How to become an artist jeweller: a Seattle community case study, I have just added it, as well as the full text from my 2010 JMGA paper Examining the connections between architecture and jewellery: Looking into the last 100 years to inform a vision of jewellery practice in the future, to this blog. They now have their own page, (also see above.) I have done the same with my most recent symposium presentation, but more on that coming soon.
And that, my friends, brings this summation home.
May you all find someone to be your human plinth decorated subject, and thus may we all live happily ever after! (Far, far from the ocean and its sinking ships…)
So my most recent trip to Aus saw me heading on over to Brisbane for the JMGA conference, which was in fact (despite ancillary benefits) my main purpose for the whole trip. I was scheduled to present my paper on Sunday the 14th of July, so upon my arrival at around lunch time on Thursday the 11th I was planning to find a spot, probably in my hotel, to work on my slide presentation. This was after a 5 hour flight (from Perth) in which I slept rather than refine my presentation – as I was telling myself that I would do over coffee prior to boarding (hey, I had to get up at 5am, and as some of you will know I’m a lightweight who only drinks decaf…) But the best laid plans…
I ran into the force that is Zoe Brand on the train as it pulled away from the airport, and thus my programme for the afternoon immediately changed, admittedly for the better.
From there we caught a cab back to South Bank where we fronted up for some quick drinks at Queensland Performing Arts Centre and then moseyed on over to the Library again for the Pecha Kucha talks by jewellers and curators from near and far, followed by more conversation. This escapade pretty much set the tone of the weekend – talking, touring, listening, drinking and eating and then more talking. I was not the only Sunday presenter fearing for their voice come Saturday night, and a least one jeweller (poor Hannah Jago) had lost theirs by Sunday.
Stay tuned for when I return with news from days one to three of the conference (same Bat-channel!) For more detail of what went on that I didn’t get to attend (like classes) or capture, the Participation and Exchange blog is still being updated.
The speakers list for the Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia conference Participation and Exchange has been finalised and it looks like a very interesting lineup, (and that is despite my bias of actually being on it.)
My buddies Mary Hackett and Christine Scott Young are going to talk about a couple of Melbourne-based organisations that are very close to my heart, Part B particularly so. Going from the title alone I’m also guessing that Helena Bogucki is also going to tug on my heartstrings, as she talks about her work that both comes from and engages with my home-state, Western Australia.
And I’m presenting a paper entitled How to become an Artist jeweller: a community Case Study (which probably should have ‘in the US‘ appended after jeweller), about the options available for training wannabe artists and metal smiths in Seattle. This is not as straightforward as it sounds given the closure of the approx 90 year-old local university program at the University of Washington a few years ago. Mary Lee Hu was the head there for many years, and when she finally decided to retire the university took the opportunity to close down the course. Sound like a recipe for disaster that could only happen in the US? Well, for a while there it looked as though my alma mater, Monash University, might be facing the same fate, so it’s a topic that I have more than a passing interest in. Lucky for Melbourne the program there still exists, but my investigation on Seattle unearthed a few more reasons as to why the loss of this college program was a tough blow to artists and school leavers in this city.
I was also hoping to carry on from this discussion to some more details of the other side of the industry – how to make it in the world once you have graduated from uni. There are a few different ideas on that here in the North America, but I had to cut that section owing to time constraints. What I’m saying is, if you manage to corner me in a bar some time, there’s plenty more of the tale to tell…
“We want papers that explore, investigate, uncover or expose participation and or exchange in practice within the fields of jewellery and metalsmithing. Approaches for this may include but are not limited to:
1. Individuals and communities facilitating exchange of ideas, innovative models of interaction, cross cultural collaboration, experimentation and the development of strong networks.
2. Participation through dialogue, action and initiatives, activities to motivate change, to shift ideas or ideals.
3. The increasing relevance (or irrelevance) of online communities for contemporary practice. Do online communities enhance practice possibilities or do they take us away from real time in the studio?
4. Historical, contemporary or future contexts of practice. What has changed, what is new?”
For more info, hit the link above. 300-400 word abstracts due January 31st, 2013.
Many people will have seen this, but I think it’s worth reposting. The next JMGA conference was due to take place in Brisbane in 2012, but has been postponed by the organising committee. From Kit and Caboodle:
“After much consideration we have decided to postpone the 2012 JMGA Conference.
We had previously indicated we would hold it in 2012, as is expected of a biennial conference. This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We apologise for being a little slow in responding to requests for information, but we were hesitant to publish information until we had made some crucial decisions.
Most of you will be aware that Queensland has had its fair share of natural disasters this year. In Brisbane while most things are up and running, there is still a long way to go in terms of returning to ‘normal’. The effect of such an event cannot be underestimated; many people are still without homes, and many businesses are yet to reopen. To put it simply, we’ve had to direct our attention and energies elsewhere in the short term. We are confident that scheduling for 2013 will allow us the time and space we need to organise an exciting and dynamic conference. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
What we can tell you now is that we are extremely pleased to have confirmed the title and theme, the venue and the dates.
Participation and Exchange valuing the participative community JMGA CONFERENCE 2013 12-14 JULY 2013 State Library of Queensland.
We are pleased to confirm the State Library of Queensland as a sponsor and will be using their fabulous venue for the conference.”