Participation – the day that was

Trading my bench – for a baked goods stand outside the State Library of Victoria. Image by Courtenay Cameron.

On Friday as the finale to the Benjamin Lignel workshop, 10 intrepid jewellery artists took to the RMIT campus and the surrounding streets to invite and encourage artistic participation between themselves and/or their work, and the populace.

Though my project, entitled Ice Your Man, I hoped to entice strangers come up to me to take part in a conversation about men’s jewellery. How do you get people to do that? Well, I decided to bake 50 gingerbread men (and I mean men only, since it was about jewellery for men) and then invite passers-by to take one, so long as they agreed to ice it themselves. Then once they’re busy icing, just keep on talking.

People were keen to do the icing, but often worried aloud “What’s the catch?” The catch was I expected them to really ‘bling’ their little man, and so I provided some pre-iced examples for inspiration. These ones ‘wore’ earrings, rings, cufflinks, large belt buckles, anklets, necklaces, pendants and the like, and were on the stand with me, and on the posters pasted to the stand to attract attention.

While I was designated a half-hour slot to do my bling-thing, I ended up not closing shop until a full hour had passed, and all but one of my ginger-bread men were long gone. (In truth, I hid the last two pre-iced men for my own afternoon tea, but then gave away one to a small child, who was incidentally wearing  a pendant on a leather cord, and earrings.)

Given our pre-project group discussions, I was surprised at the amount of men that got involved, and also in the willingness of people to oblige me by jewelling their treats, rather than simply decorating the gingerbread men in their own style. Of course, some people just went for it and then described their creations in jewellery terms.

The project really got me thinking about my own work and my practice, as did the smaller projects that came before it during the week. There’s something about hooks and handles

Men icing men. Image by Courtenay Cameron.
Bringing the bling. Image by Naoko Inuzuka.
More icing please! Image by Courtenay Cameron


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