The countdown is on

Happy New Year everybody!

Right now, (in fact, I began last week) I’m making work for a bunch of shows that are set to open in the first four months of this year.

I’m in the Transformation 8 exhibition – which I’ve referred to as the Elizabeth R Raphael Founders Prize before (since last year’s competition resulted in what they’re exhibiting in the show) which opens shortly. That’s been on the cards for a while now so that work is completed and arrived in the US early last month, in preparation for imminent display.

Hosted by, and located at the Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, it runs for ages, and for at least part of that time the SCC is simultaneously running a charm show called Charmed III – Third Times a Charm, in which I was also invited to exhibit. As myself and the illustrious Jill Hermans have designed and created a bunch of charms in the last six months, for the upcoming JoyaViva exhibition in Melbourne (and touring – possibly for-ev-er), we decided to exhibit some more of those little beauties, which, luckily for us, the SCC accepted. So, at the moment I’ve just finished a couple of those cards ready for enamelling, and Jill is preparing two more of the same. Yes, these ones are getting the royal treatment now that the kiln is up and running.

So of course, one of the shows soon-to-open is the actual Joyaviva show, beginning on the 10th of February at RMIT gallery in Melbourne, and touring. We’re in the final stages of our part for that exhibition – the work is ready and the catalogue is in produciton.

When you look at it in terms of what’s actually on my bench, the main pieces that I’m working on right now are for my upcoming solo show at Studio 20/17, opening at the very end of Feb. I’ve drawn, emailed, received and started working with a new laser cut plan that I created for these works, with an aim of the show also being to display this laser cut pattern. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, but this is my first opportunity to exhibit both a full iteration of the pattern that I draw for each series, alongside all of the pieces that come from it.

This time in creating the pattern I’ve worked with the idea that various sections are to be enamelled, and come up with what might be seen as a tiled arrangement of parts. I have made a break from the radial arrangement of motifs, which dominated all my previous laser cut series (and many of my hand-cut works too, though this too has been changing over the last year…), and this development, along with all of the other considerations of the series, is proving stimulating for me to work with.

Now to the final exhibition, being mounted in late April. The Heat Exchange exhibition goes on display in Phoenix, Arizona, as a part of this year’s SNAG conference. The works that I am preparing for my solo show will provide some of the pieces for this exhibition – especially the object works that come out of the new pattern. I will also work on a few more pieces for this show, but only once the works from the first full pattern are in the bag.

So, with all this work to do, you might not see me haunting these parts quite as frequently as I have done. There will still be updates to the Heat Exchange blog as well as the C3 blog (for the Joyaviva exhibition) as well as an upcoming Online Exhibition that I’m curating at Crafthaus, so don’t fret, we won’t have to be strangers 😉


These little thinks were finished yesterday, and are now hanging out at e.g.etal.

The above are all titanium, and all different, though the differences are small.

These pieces represent almost the last of The Sieve earrings. I’m just about out of pieces from which to compile them. The Sieve?

The Sieve.

And on cue, I’ve just received a package containing my new laser cut, ready to be broken up for a new series of works. It’s different, more like tiling. It might get called something like that. I’m not sure just yet.

More from Midland

The whole reason I was reminded of my day in the Pattern Shop in Midland was because when I visited again, after being escorted by security to the door, I was welcomed by Jon to check out not only the exhibitions that were on in the adjoining building, but to look at the works in progress in the workshop that immediately precedes the gallery space. This space has a door into the back to the Pattern Workshop, through which Jon disappeared after a brief introduction to the show, to continue his work.

He works in the ground floor of the pattern workshop, and by sticking my camera lens in, I figure (perhaps incorrectly?) that the patterns and detritus still remain above.

Some more photos from my visit. My camera eventually ran out of battery, and I took these with my new (at that stage) smartphone.

Midland Atelier

Last weekend I visited an exhibition in Perth, housed in the Midland Atelier, part of the old ‘railways’ workshops in Midland, an ex-industrial hub about 30 minutes outside of Perth.

I was familiar with the railway yards, and the Pattern Workshop that adjoins the exhibition space which contained the exhibition, as I had been given access to photograph the pattern workshop, (which was already in use as a woodworking studio) back when I was still living in Perth, in 2006.

When I did my postgraduate diploma at Curtin in 2006, I was given a project that dictated that I work to a clients’ brief. I made contact with Form to find out if they would be willing to act as my client, which they were, and they gave me the choice of two briefs, which I found equally interesting. In the end I adapted one of my other projects so that I might pursue both.

The first was an invitation to go onsite to see the Pattern Workshop in Midland, and to make work based around it. The workshop on the ground floor still housed many machines, and what seemed to be all of the patterns – that is, the timber models of parts made to create the molds for casting – in its upper stories.

The building, the patterns for practically everything every produced in conjunction with running the railways, the tools, the signage and even the filing system all seemed to be intact, as if work was ready to continue but the workers never came back. I can only guess at what the end was really like, as the Pattern Workshop alone spoke of many thousands of hours of human toil. It also spoke of the huge amount of personnel that must have been needed to keep the whole ‘railways’ yard operational.

I have always been grateful to the powers at Form for allowing me the opportunity to experience such a place.

Part B

This Saturday, November  5th, Part B heads to see the about-to-close exhibition by David Bielander, entitled Ripsnorter, at Gallery Funaki. Having seen David speak about the show on Thursday at RMIT, and having snuck off to Perth over the weekend where I saw another show of his at the Midland Atelier, I’m looking forward to the chance to chat about his work.

Day 5 – More exhibitions

Today I spent the day with another jeweller and lecturer, Kim, Jung Hoo, who took me to several galleries, starting with a jewellery gallery called Space Duru south of Seoul. We saw an exhibition there entitled Fifth Season, by Kim Heejoo, who was also on hand to talk about her works with us. Heejoo was a past student of Kim Jung Hoo.

In the main the works were executed in electroformed copper and silver, with leather and under-fired vitreous enamel, as well as subtle patinas, especially noticeable on the copper sections. For her neckpieces she wound layers of a distinctive thick thread, which she told me was hand-dyed by a friend. She would use several tones (or maybe the thread changed tone along its length) so that there were gradations of colour throughout the length of the neckpiece.

The works, she said, were inspired by the natural world, and especially the living potential of root systems and tubers and the like, from the moment just before life springs forth.  Not surprisingly some of her works echoed these influences in their actual forms, yet the colours and the mix of materials made them look quite other-worldly, as if they were a species she had herself somehow induced. This was at least in part because of their heightened sense of beauty.

After lunching nearby with the artist, Kim Jung Hoo and I went to Leeum: the Samsung Museum of Art. There were two parts to the building which houses Leeum, the side which houses the collection of traditional art and that which houses the collection of modern and contemporary art. I was equally impressed with architecture as the works, which changes dramatically between the two section, echoing the change between the the types of works being exhibited.

Next we went back towards Insa-Dong where we saw the Hyundai art gallery and a furniture gallery. Finally we went to another jewellery gallery, called Hidden Space, located in a building that was a converted traditional home. The entrance was found after scurrying down several small alleyways, which opened up immediately to a central courtyard. To the right was a small space dedicated to solo exhibitions, which was showing an exhibition by Miho Noka. All of her works were composed of (drinking) straw segments, melted to fuse them into large, flat disk shapes, which were then joined into neckpieces and the like.

In another section of the house was an area with drawers and displays of other artists, as well as a cafe space, which served tea, or to me, shaved ice. Here we sat with the owner, an ex jewellery lecturer and jeweller, who discussed the artists and upcoming shows. We also discussed the difference in jewellery practice between Korea and Australia, and of arts funding.While the arts does get some corporate support in South Korea, I was told that artists do not receive government support.

On the right, my guide for the day, Kim Jung Hoo

I was also here that from one of the drawers I bought a long thin brooch, made from leather and steel.

Day 4 – World Jewellery Museum

Our main destination today was the World Jewellery Museum, where we met with one of the owners, Elaine Kim.

exterior of the World Jewellery Museum, Seoul

The museum is over three levels, and is about the size of a house. (As ever in Seoul, an economic use of space is necessitated.) The displays were set out in levels, with the first floor being devoted to traditional jewellery forms from all over the world. It was dominated on the day of our visit by many pieces from different parts of the African continent, which included much heavy and heavily ornamented silver works, as well as traditional beadwork.

The second floor had a focus on more Western pieces, with a room devoted to images of jewellery in painting from the Renaissance period on, and throughout the floor were many examples of very highly skilled works in precious stones and metals. A feature in the middle of the biggest room was an Italian beaded wedding dress on display, and nearby was a small selection of jewelled handbags.

Finally the third floor was devoted to rings, in a very unique display, which allowed them to be seen on all sides. The rings were set into large panels, made from sandwiched layers of perspex (with individual voids carved to match the approximate size of each ring) that were skinned with another sheet of perspex on each side. A whole panel, filled with rings, would have been about 40mm thick, (and quite weighty) and was hung from the ceiling rafters.

Each collection of works had accompanying curatorial text in English and Korean, and many of the works had approximate dates of their manufacture and/or collection.

The museum is a privately owned and run gallery, located in a busy pedestrian cultural and shopping district in Seoul. Elaine and her mother run the space which shows their private jewellery collection, and the gallery operates by charging a small entry fee. Elaine told me, at the end of my visit, that at any time they have approximately 10% of their collection on show, and that they rotate the collection about five times a year.

A circular pedestrian overpass in South Korea, that is a full roundabout. It if fringed with potted colourful flowers

Day 3 Cheongju-Suwon-Seoul-Suwon

Today I did some travelling (during which I noticed a curious South Korean phenomenon, the Tree Phone Tower.) First up, into a taxi – showing the driver my written destination (thanks Sally!), then bus trip to Suwon, where I managed to get off at the right stop, then use my Zen navigation skillz (yeah, using experiential wisdom – I didn’t have a map and only a vague idea that the university was ‘somewhere to the right’) to get to the main entrance of the nearby university where Sally was to pick me up.

That sorted, we headed to Insa-dong in Seoul for lunch, and after to catch up with local jeweller Woo Jin Soon, who guest lectures at Kookmin University and who kindly took me, and translator Sally, out for tea. I showed her my work which then precipitated a lively discussion about craft practice, and agreed that seeing really good shows, such as the Cheongju show, or Schmuck in Germany, “Just make you want to go back to your studio and work!”

Sally and I then headed out to see a show called In + Out = Flat by another local artist Kim Shin-Lyoung. It showcased a small yet dazzling array of works, all in 998, sterling and nickel-silver, the use of which allowed her to make married-metal pieces that were then patinated, to bring out precise lines of black and white. Technically very proficient, the works still exhibited a sense of life and play in their geometrically precise forms. The artist was hanging out in the gallery so she and I held a stilted conversation, through Sally, so that I could attempt to convey how impressive the works were.

Finally, we attempted to get to the Gyeongbokgung Palace before it closed to visitors for the day. We missed out by a good minute… So we stood in the forecourt and had out picture taken by a fellow tourist instead!