Mexico City – Sin Título meets Part B (or at least one straggling representative…)

Sin Título, meet Part B. Part B: Sin Título. There now, isn’t that much better??

Returning to our scheduled programming, after that short break in transmission:

On Saturday, April 12th, my last full day in Mexico, I got to hang out with Sin Título, (the name means Untitled in Spanish) a jewellery collective from Mexico City. Once again I met with Alberto Dávila, Cristina Celis, Raquel Bessudo, Holinka Escudero, Zinna Rudman and Fernanda Barba, hot on the heels of our first meeting at the opening of Joyaviva.

Together, along with Kevin Murray (and you might spot TurboNerd in some of the pictures too) we had a chat about life in the trenches for jewellery artists, and what they have been up to, as a group, to raise the profile of ‘our kind of jewels’ in Mexico. Owing to a section in my presentation that focussed on how Jill and my work with Part B influenced the C3 project (just as a recap – The Joyaviva exhibition/C3 project was my reason for being in Mexico as it is on display in Mexico City), we all realised that we had a lot to talk about.

They have come together as a group to instigate their own installations and happenings, and have had success in planting their jewellery dispensing machine in a couple of situations – including a gallery during an opening – with two editions of works. I was very chuffed to be given the opportunity to have a go at it myself, and I scored a Meteorite ring by Cristina and a magnetic Scarab pin by Zinna (which got me frisked at Minneapolis airport just this Sunday – should have worn Cristina’s ceramic ring!), while Turbo was seen sporting an ear cuff courtesy of Fernanda.

You might notice that all the jewels are black; that’s because the edition of the dispenser they were kind enough to bring to the Museum is entitled ‘Black is the New Gold’. Makers responded to the theme (itself devised to set apart ‘art’ from ‘regular’ jewellery) in varying ways – most with witty puns on the title – and I wish I was smart enough to have written it all down because now I have forgotten the ties that linked the works to that theme, aside from the obvious that all the work was black. But, as always, the internet to the rescue!  As you can see, they even painted black the tokens used for insertion into the machine. Attention to detail, folks… All jewels come with a small sheet of paper detailing the artist, name of the work and description of the materials, with the Sin Título name and logo “ ” on the obverse.

In return for their kindness in gifting me their dark charms and a bit of Sin Título swag – yup, be jealous 😉 – there was a mass ‘charming’, when I distributed some “Lighten Up” and “Battery Backup” charms, with most of the corresponding report cards I filled in for each charm activation asking for a little bit of backup to continue the good fight of getting the word of ‘the new jewellery’  into the world.

You can check out Sin Título via the facebooks, and there is some interesting tweets coming out of several members’ accounts, including Zinna Rudman, Fernanda Barba and Holinka Escudero’s JEWELLERY ACTIVIST (great title!) and of course, the untitled one itself, Sin Título.

Here’s another snapshot of their practice, with thanks to the Joyaviva Website, while below are some actual snapshots, all images courtesy of Sin Título, for which I thank them profusely as I completely neglected to take any photos.

Carpe amuletum!

DSC03068 DSC03069 DSC03073 DSC03077 DSC03082 DSC03085 DSC03088 DSC03106 DSC03108 DSC03110 DSC03113 DSC03116 DSC03118 DSC03120

SNAG Conference 2014

Melissa is off to Minneapolis. Jealous?!

I know, and I apologise for leaving you in the lurch about the final days of my Mexico trip, but, well, TIME! Who’s go it? I promise to get to that, and to a slightly late Deadlines post as soon as I get back.

From where? Well, I’m off to the 2014 SNAG conference in Minneapolis, helpfully subtitled From Grains to Gold. I’ll see if that title relates to anything and get back to you.. So if you need me, or are keen to see what happens at one of these things, please head over to my Twitter page, and I’ll try keep us all updated – #SNAG or probably #SNAG2014. And if you’re at Snag, please come say hi!


The need to rename Craft – a gender issue?

Craft. The other C word. It’s a bit of a crunt, if I’m honest…

Here’s a little thought that has been worming inside my head ever since I read this article in my blog stream. It’s a half-formed argument, but that’s what a blog is for, right?…

This article on the design history online publication Unmaking Things is really interesting. Thanks Caterina Tiezzi for making my brain work, forging little connections here and there about different issues that have been published online about Craft of late (especially this one – Craft Identity Statement as it implies that the definition is somehow broken.) There has been a lot of noise on the subject, and obviously by my use of noise back there, I don’t think that the articles, nor their attempts at determining a way forward, have been clear, or useful.

In her article Craft & Technology in the Newsagent’s Shelf: A Look Through Magazines, Tiezzi sticks to provable facts. And they are very compelling. And, I’ll say it again, so interesting. In the context of the other articles that I’ve been reading, this straight forward article begs the question, why does craft have this identity confusion? Or perhaps more correctly, why do the craft the people who are around me – who are engaged in selling Craft – have confusion?

In the newsagent craft is a specific and uniformly branded thing. It’s very simple. And über feminine. Cloying, yes, childish, perhaps, but simple to grasp, as is necessary in a refined retail environment. The signs are easy to read, and as such signifier and signified are all in alignment.

In the the craft world, the one I have experience in (but pretty much refuse to get into the nitty gritty of the current arguments – there’s no time!) there’s so much confusion, so much. Everyone wants to help out the term in a way that is comprehensive and simple. Well, Tiezzi’s distillation is a dose of clarity, that could not get more simple. Do you want to be aligned with that? If you don’t, either get ready to rehabilitate the word, or get out of the craft business.

Too simplistic? Perhaps. But it’s also why, when pressed, I go with research jeweller, art jeweller, or just plain artist. It’s not cos I wanna be in the big white room up against their racket. It’s because I don’t wanna be in the little pink room with the 1/4 scale furniture.

Ya dig?

Mexico City – The forum

Melissa is still in Coyoacán, Mexico. This is the 2nd of 3 posts on the subject, so if you’re already getting sleepy… TOO BAD!

Image of speakers at the 2014 Joyaviva forum in Mexico City.
Image of speakers at the 2014 Joyaviva forum in Mexico City, at the National Museum of Popular Culture.

In the evening of my second full day in Mexico City, I was invited to be one of a panel of speakers presenting different thoughts on the subject of charms and amulets. This presentation took place in a covered outdoor space at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares.

Our speakers in order were:

  • Dr. Carlos Zolla Luque: coordinador del Programa Universitario de Estudios de la Diversidad Cultural y la Interculturalidad (PUIC-UNAM)
  • Martacarmela Sotelo: (Mexican artist in Amuleto) Conceptualising ideas for their materialisation 
  • Melissa Cameron: (Australian artist in Amuleto) Contemporary jewellery in the streets of Melbourne 
  • Hanna Hedman: (Swedish artist) Amulet or talisman?
  • Kevin Murray: (Curator of Amuleto) Luck by design: The challenge of the contemporary amulet

The opening presentation was on the history and specific uses of amulets and the different motifs that crop up in their design. The most eye-opening part of Dr Zolla Luque’s presentation for me was an interesting set of statistics; reasons why people presented to their doctor/GP, in Mexico. The effects of the ‘evil eye‘ featured prominently in the shortlist, in fact was at the top, while other ailments like headaches followed.

Martacarmela spoke about her own work and her project in the exhibition, as well as about some of the others I think (perhaps also on participating in the Charm School), while I spoke about the C3 project. I talked about the idea behind it, the implementation process and the influence that being members of a collective like Part B had on the design of the project – specifically the large community of makers and recipients of charms that the Charged Charm Card project was attempting to assemble. (I’ll put my presentation up in the Symposia section of this site very shortly.)

Then Hanna spoke about her introduction to charms and amulets – she was a professional sportsperson up until her early 20’s – so she shared some personal superstitions about performance in the context of a great many other athletes that she had researched, and then the effect of Mexico on her already talisman-appearing pieces. She also spoke about her work in partnership with Otro Diseño in Mexico, the Amulet workshops that she has been presenting.

She has developed a program for her students with a relational focus. She has her students approaching unknown people in the street, in their own communities, in order to find specific things out about them. This is followed by making a piece based on the responses, that caters to their specific fears and interests. It is a lesson in both collaborative creativity as well as expansion of the network of people interested in artist-made jewellery, as they are the recipient of some works that have distinct meaning and references for them. I liked the idea as I think it a powerful way to engage the greater community – and the need to engage people outside our milieu was something that we both spoke at length on.

Finally Kevin spoke about the progress of the exhibition from his perspective, from the very first Charm Schools he conducted to the mounting of the exhibition and the shows so far.

Now hopefully I have these all figured out, since the only talk that was in English was Hanna’s (and she and I shared a very impressive translator to turn our words into Spanish) but if you were there and have anything to add or to correct me on, please send me an email or pull me up in the comments. Please!

This is post 2 of 3 of my activities in Coyoacán, so stay tuned for the next installment…

Mexico City – Joyaviva Opening

Melissa travels to Mexico City for the opening of Joyaviva – Jewellery form Across the Pacific

Joyaviva - installed in Mexico City

I’m fresh back from Mexico City, where I’m proud to report the long-travelling charm show Joyaviva is now open! Or re-open, as the case may be. Last Tuesday I journeyed to Mexico City to attend the Wednesday night opening at the Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares in Coyoacán.

Joyaviva banner at the entrance to the exhibition

Opening speeches were delivered by by Tim George, the Australian Ambassador to Mexico, museum director Rodolfo Rodríguez Castañeda, Martacarmela Sotelo, one of the participating Mexican artists as well as the exhibition’s curator Dr Kevin Murray. As all of the speeches were in Spanish I assume that people only said nice things.

Image courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray
Image of participating artists courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Eventually it was declared open, and we got to see the show! If you’ve been following along you’ll notice the much more spare design of this iteration, which really highlights the pieces. It’s a little low on context but hopefully the catalogue will help to alleviate that. There is also a mural reproduction of market in Mexico City that is the premier destination to buy all things pertaining to good and bad luck, and on separate occasions I was told it was a place best traversed with a local as your guide. Consequently I didn’t go – I know when I’m not wanted!

Image of the 'Luck Market' room courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray
Image of the ‘Luck Market’ room courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Turbo and I got into some in-depth chats with the artists about the show as well as Mexico City, a dominating topic of conversation given that we were amongst the few foreigners. I also got to hang out with the Mexican artists in the exhibition, some of whom like Lorena Lazard and Raquel Bessudo I had met before (thanks to SNAG 2013), and I also met Swedish artist Hanna Hedman, who is coincidentally in Mexico and teaching workshops about amulets there thanks to Otro Disegno. After dinner with Kevin we headed off to the studio of local artist and fellow Joyavivan Alberto, for a shot of Mezcal and some more conversation about Mexico and jewellery.

Image of the main installation courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray
Image of the main installation courtesy of Dr Kevin Murray

Radical Jewelry Makeover is Open!

More shenanigans in Richmond. Of the Virginian variety.

Brass Brooch 2014.
Melissa Cameron, Brass Brooch, 2014.

I mentioned in my recent I went to Richmond post that there was a new Radical Jewelry Makeover exhibition in the works.

Last Friday this latest installment of RJM opened at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond alongside Susie Ganch’s solo exhibition, Tied. If you’re in the greater Virginia area I encourage you to get along before the 7th of June. I got to see Susie’s work in progress at her studio while I was there and she has been further pursuing the recycled material ethos, pushing it into all the corners of her practice.

For more info check out the link above as well as the RJM website, where you can also see a preview of the other of my pieces that are in the exhibition.

Call for papers

Call for papers for c+de#7 2015 is now open. (c+de#7 = craft and design enquiry, issue 7)

Call for papers for c+de#7 (2015) is now open
(c+de#7 = craft and design enquiry, issue 7)

This call out has been on my deadlines posts for a while now, but since it’s getting closer I thought I’d give it a bigger plug, especially since the call for abstracts closes at the end of this month – 30th April 2014.

The theme for this issue has been set by the guest editor Kay Lawrence, and is “Landscape, Place and Identity in Craft and Design”.

From the site:

This issue of craft + design enquiry invites papers that explore and reflect upon these ideas about landscape, place and identity in relation to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous craft and design practice in Australia and globally. Or, to put it another way, writers might wish to consider how craft and design practitioners have employed the visual, material, spatial and temporal processes of their disciplines to interrogate questions of identity in relation to concepts of place and landscape.

There’s a lot more material about the related topics and the dates and deadlines on their website, so please go to the link above and check it out. This tiny abstract does not do the topic, nor the thoughtful presentation of it by Kay Lawrence AM, justice.