Upcoming show

Jeweller Claire McArdle is having a show. Hop to it!

Nope, not mine. The loverly Claire McArdle is having a show (which, incidentally, opens on my birthday – thanks for the party Claire!) of new works.

Image courtesy Claire McArdle ©2011

Going by the photo it looks as though there’s been a bit of a shift in her work, so I’m really looking forward to having a good gander at it. From her media release:

Public Displays of Attention

10-21 May, Opening 10th May 5.30-7.30pm
First Site Gallery, 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne

This attention grabbing jewellery creates a visual voice which cries out joyously to the many strangers we encounter everyday during city life. Colossal and colourful, these pieces all carry an urge to be connected to others. They create a shared experience for both the wearer and the viewer as they become part of one of the many Public Displays of Attention.

Elizabeth R. Raphael Founder’s Prize

Fancy winning some cash/getting into an exhibition in Pittsburgh? Check this one out…

I’ve been asked to promote an award, so here goes:

The Elizabeth R. Raphael award is a US $5000 cash prize, awarded biannually to an artist chosen for their work in a particular medium responding to the theme of that year.

More detail from the email;

“Presented in conjunction with a juried exhibition at the Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC), a corresponding catalogue and a feature video on the winning artist, the biennial prize is funded by the daughters of Elizabeth R. Raphael, the founder of SCC and a nationally known figure in the contemporary art scene for several decades.

This year’s prize will be awarded in the category of small metals, on the basis of an entry that addresses the theme of “transformation.” Artists are asked to submit Mac compatible CD with 4 images, CV, support materials and $45 application fee to SCC by June 3, 2011. In addition to the prize-winning artist, a selection of entries will receive honorable mention and will be included in the Founder’s Prize exhibition to be held at SCC from February 3—June 30, 2012.

The selection review committee for the 2011 prize will include guest jurors Bruce W. Pepich, Executive Director and Curator of Collections at the Racine Art Museum; internationally known jeweler Natalya Pinchuk; Alexandra Raphael, enamel artist (UK); Catherine Raphael, metalsmith and storyteller; Margaret Raphael, filmmaker and Kate Lydon, Director of Exhibitions, Society for Contemporary Craft and member of the Board of Governors, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.”

To get hold of the prospectus (which includes the entry form) go here.

Other competitions to keep on your radar are the Itami International Craft Exhibition (this year’s theme – jewellery, due 27th July) and Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2011 (international entries due June 8th.)

Day 17

Day 17 in the Centre for Fine Print Research in Bristol. My second last day…

This morning I’m late in – yup, out collecting more washers. The studio shifts in my brief absence. There’s wall-to-wall artists in here throughout the day, starting with Roger right next to me. Later he’s replaced by Carol, and later still, by Peter Daglish.


Day 16

Day 16 in Bristol, Melissa is up to more shenanigans with enamel and enamellists.

We’re on the home stretch of my Bristolian odyssey. Day 16 and I’m still in the studio, working on my latest hoard of washers. I’ve finally caught Antony, he of the large cooker panels. He also happens to have an interest in hexagons, so later we bond over their architectural and jewellery potential. Ergo, me photographing him as he shoots my pieces;

Antony photographs my works-in-progress. We're all papparazzi in this studio...

As for me, I’m trying to average 100 freshly coated and fired washers a day. Yeah, that’s loads of washers…

What Antony was taking a photo of... More washers!
More trussed washers, fired - foreground section has a second coating of a beautiful GREEN!

Peter Skubic

Peter Skibic. Melissa finally gets IT.

During Schmuck this year, on Friday the 18th of March to be specific, a retrospective show of Peter Skibuc’s work opening at the Pinakothek Der Moderne in Munich. I went along, dragged by Jessica and Elizabeth as they found me skulking around the Italian’s show (about to head to the hotel to drop my shopping – Helen Britton catalogue etc – and have dinner accompanied by a stiff drink…) while they were en route to the Museum.

Turned out it was just about the best show all day. (I did see eleven shows that day, so I’m restraining a little cos I can’t remember all of them…)

It really was/is a great show. After standing amongst his sculptures that were all mounted on head-high plinths as if they were jewellery, then bending down to see his smaller recent works, I had an epiphany. I finally ‘got’ his work. I’d studied his stuff before (planes of precision cut stainless steel strung on stainless cable… How could I not?) but pictures on the internet and seeing the many pieces being worn by collectors that night, and of course the many more on display, are two completely different things.

And then Bettina Dittlmann enlightened us on the colours he uses. He thinks like an engineer, so the colours have to have a system. You can’t  just choose them on a whim, I hear you ask? Of course not! So, you come up with an alphabet of colours and probably shapes too, I’m guessing. So the use of a colour is dictated by the spelling of different words. What words? Well, Bettina informed us that somewhere in the collection is a brooch that spells her name. Awww. Wonder if he’s ever done a Melissa?

The video in this post was found on the Panie Przodem blog. Very cool.

Day 15

Still hanging in Enamelleing area of the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Still enamelling washers, but also having a go at an enamel transfer. This is where a screen print is made of your design in a special enamel + paint medium onto a thin layer of paper-backed plastic. You take the print, on its paper substrate, and submerge it in water briefly. This loosens the gum that sandwiches the two layers together, so that you can slide the plastic layer off the paper, and with some of the gum still on the plastic, you can move it about a little until it settles neatly in place on your object. That’s the theory…

It’s handy to keep the paper layer nearby, in case your piece of plastic loses its tack. You can then gently slide the paper under the plastic layer again to deposit a little more damp goo. Essentially you’re back where you started, but since you’ve just practiced the whole process, with luck you’ll make a better fist if it the second time around. Sound like I’m talking from experience? Yeah…

First transfer on mug - straigtening continues...
Positioning transfer with paper backing still in place. This will be repeated...
After initial firing - plastic gone, but text still vulnerable until 'proper' firing (over 750°C)

And well may you ask “Melissa, why mugs?”

Buh-cause Studio Fusion is having a show in honour of this year’s royal nuptials entitled “Two Mugs”. The British have a long tradition of commemorating such occasions with the release of thousands of “collectors edition” crockery and homewares.  And in homage to that tradition, everyone in the enamel studio, and a few outsiders besides, were making decals to put onto a mug for the show. Some were political – £5,000,000,000 being the amount of money lost in productivity for the bank holiday that the nation will be enjoying/enduring on the wedding day, others funny – a royal garter versus a brides lacy one or ‘Zara & Mike’ – the ‘other’ royal wedding of this year (Zara Philips – another grandchild of Her Maj will also marry this year, but whose ‘big day’ is getting lost in the princely hubub), while some mugs were just plain nice. Mine was attempting to be political/funny, but as it’s the only with a clear Australian perspective in the bunch I’m thinking the point might get lost…

I wish I could name all the artists. I know that Matthew Partington did the Zara&Mike and the £5,000,000,000, and that Anamika and Cathy’s were in that bunch, but that’s about it. Sorry to all the artists for not taking names. (Please feel free to email me with work credit details.)

Speaking of Cathy, she brought in her work to show today:

Cathy's enamelled brooches - silver, copper, enamel, thread.

And Anamika set out more of hers;

Anamika shows off her latest - enamelling on her metalworking, and to the right, copper pieces using copper firescale as the green colouring agent

And me? I spent another day wrestling with the massive sandblaster and my comparatively tiny washers.

Yet another hoard of washers
Yet another hoard of washers: sandblasted


Melissa in Edinburgh. The red-head finally sees the home of her ancestors 😉

Waaay back on March 25th I flew from Bristol to Edinburgh, and arrived just in time for a Friday night on the town. Alice, an MFA student from Edinburgh College of Art, organised drinks in the Grassmarket with a bunch of other jewellery students and the odd architect, writer and architect/writer. We had great chats and I was treated to some palm reading and local dance moves before they kindly deposited me back at the hotel when the pub closed.

I wandered around and through the Castle the next day, and on Sunday I caught up with The Justified Sinner (aka Dauvit Alexander, maker of jewellery and lecturer in same) for a trip around the city itself, which meandered, amongst other places, into a car-park flea market and the National Museum of Scotland. The market was brilliant, I scored a few great pieces (of the usual tin-and-coaster variety), and the displays in the museum were pretty amazing too.

Like in Milan I was really impressed with this exhibition design, and the willingness to alter the mood of the place with the architecture in favour of, or even deference to, the works on show. It wasn’t always the case throughout the museum, but I thought it was really noticeable, and of considerable benefit, in the few key areas that it was done.

Also at Dauvit’s suggestion I popped into Greyfriars Kirkyard on my way past. I’ve since learned it’s supposed to be the most haunted place in Edinburgh. Luckily I didn’t come out with any new bruises…

The next day I headed into the Edinburgh College of Art to meet some of the students and give a lunchtime talk on my practice. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to chat with the really talented and dedicated students – and staff – all of whom gave me a warm welcome.