Jewellery Unleashed!

There was this amazing symposium recently, I have just found out. And part of the awesome was a presentation by Ben Lignel. I can’t remember where I got the link from (so very sorry, but I started watching the clip earlier in the week whilst jet-lagged, and didn’t finish it til last night, and in the intervening space I forgot where it came from) so my heartiest of apologies if it was you. Anyway, the presentation itself gives much food for thought. Interesting times.

Jewellery Unleashed! The Symposium – Benjamin Lignel from Premsela, The Netherlands Inst. on Vimeo.


I finally got around to reading ‘Interview with Postmodernism Curator at the V&A, Glenn Adamson’ by Katherine Elliott last week.

This was the bit I was particularly interested in;

Q: In your opinion, what is the difference between critiquing work created as art and work created for use, like product design?

A: I think it’s a continuum or maybe even just a shift in emphasis. You can treat a design object like an art work (Duchamp started doing so a century ago after all) and you can also treat an art work like a design object, by considering its production and distribution narrative. So to me, the difference is in the manner of questioning, not the supposed inherent nature of the object, or even the maker’s intention.

The question and answer that directly followed this was particularly thought-provoking, to me, given that they explore further that last part – intention – and what importance is has to historians/theorists, when forming a historical narrative. Not as much as I might have thought.

In the field of research jewellery, you’d have to argue that it is a particularly intriguing arena to investigate.

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.

The Paduans are Coming!

Thanks to Christine Scott-Young for the heads up on this article from The Age:

A treasure chest from Italy

And here are some more details on the show:

Gioielli d’Autore. Padova e la Scuola dell’oro

(Italian Contemporary Jewellery. Padua and its Jewellery School)

Exhibition dates: 17 June – 14 August 2011


Friday 17 June 12-1 pm
Italian jewellers Alberta Vita and Lucia Davanzo speaking about the Padua jewellery school.
Location: RMIT Gallery

Friday 24 June 10.30 am – 12 noon
The EU Centre at RMIT and RMIT Gallery present:
Jewellery in Europe and Australia: Alberta Vita and Lucia Davanzo in conversation with Melbourne jewellers Elfrun Lach and Teresa Lane
Chair: Mark Edgoose, the coordinator of undergraduate studies, (Gold and Silversmithing), School of Art, RMIT
Includes Italian morning tea. Free. Reserved seating. Bookings essential 9925 1717
Location: Location: Storey Hall Conference Rooms 1 & 2, Level 7, Building 16.

Admission free. All Welcome. RSVP 03 9925 1717 /


See you tomorrow!

waaay back in 2010

Now this year is a whole week old, I thought I’d take you waaay back in time to 2010, back when I had this little blog… OK, you got me, it’s the same blog.

Anyway, I’ve been reading ‘best of’ blogs around the place, and people have been sharing stats of all sorts, (a simple way to flesh out a post during that period between Xmas and New Year when no one wants to have to do any real work. Guilty as charged, but not in the aforementioned time frame. Me? I just disappeared in between parties…) so I thought I’d post about the two biggest days of my year, last year.

These posts represent the days that saw most amount of clicks on my site for the year. Not what I expected, but interesting to note. Maybe? OK, so I’m not convinced that sharing such info is anything more than a self serving reminder of past glories, but I reviewed the stats and when I had a read of these posts I figured out they have something in common. They’re both long, and they critique events that are not specifically jewellery related. Coincidence?

Anyway, they were the posts Critiquing Criticism on the 10th of September (admittedly I also blogged two lines about going to the opening of Bad Beasts Do Not Harm Me by Natalia Milosz-Piekarska & Karla Way that day…) and out and about on the 4th of October.

I don’t review or critique every show/event I go to. I write when I feel that I have something specific to say about what I’ve seen, and I’m more inclined to write when I don’t think that another blogger will talk about it, or when in the writing that has appeared, there wasn’t a jewellist’s perspective. So yes, I am pretty chuffed that a couple of times when I did take the time to write long critiques last year, they got read. Or at least clicked on 😉

calendar check

The jewellist blog turns one today. Coincidentally, it’s also my 200th post. I guess that makes me waddling round like a one-year-old; I bet you can’t wait til I hit my terrible twos…

If you cast your mind back, (or if you haven’t bothered with the older blather, let me set you straight) you’ll recall that this is a blog that started out by sharing a gag order. With any luck the posts over the past year have escalated in tone, enough at least to deliver some actual content. However simple that content may be, it has managed to chalk up some small milestones. OK, so maybe more like miles-pebbles, if I may coin a phrase?

One such pebble was being asked by the subjects of this post (Daniela Hedman and Kajsa Lindberg) for permission to use it as promotional material. And on the flip side I was asked, very graciously in fact, to write a guest post on the Ponoko Blog (though it’s likely this request owed less to my blogging capabilities and more to my fondness for laser-cutting technologies).

In terms of my own narrative, I have shared plenty, including a modest series detailing how I got here – into jewellery making, that is – via my history of the jewellist.

During the past year I’ve written about competitions I’ve entered and exhibitions my works have made it into, as well as the curated shows that I was invited to contribute to (at last count I’ve had works in eighteen shows this year.) I shared the three workshops that I completed with visiting artists over the year, and my recent good fortune in picking up a grant to do a residency in England with one of them.

I have blogged about my projects; from curating my first exhibition, to how I set up my studio, which included a blow by blow account of what’s in it. In fact my sandblaster has become a recurring character, as have some collaborators and friends – like the bride, the artist and of course the wonderful TurboNerd.

And I’ve made advances to get y’all to join the party! How? By inviting everyone to come to Part B or to submit a review of a shopfront jewellery store; and to comment on the posts. I offer grateful thanks to everyone who came to a meet or who posted a comment throughout the year, it was lovely, and important to me, to share a dialogue with you.

Amongst a myriad of reasons, I blog to keep me writing, since (as the adage goes) practice makes perfect. Because of that, I’m unable to say that everything I have written here has been concisely put, well argued, or of interest to anyone but myself. But sometimes, just like a day spent in the studio making jewellery, the endeavour is its own reward.

I feel privileged to be able to make jewellery, and feel a responsibility to share how I go about doing this. But no one said you had to read it. So I thank you for reading.

something old

I made mention of this ring before, when I sent it to Sydney for Zoe Brand‘s First and Last show. But I neglected to put up an image.

The three pieces were all made during Jewellery classes at high school. I know that the rings were both in my first year, year 8, but the bracelet could have been made then or in year 9.

Categorized as history

designer to jeweller – part 3

In light of the exhibition First and Last beginning in Sydney yesterday, I thought it was a good time to finish up my little tale of ‘where did I come from – jewellist style”.

This is the tale of how I wended my way back to jewellery after a few years lost in the interior design wilderness. The first part was documented in the previous post Mr Daniels and the second in Quizzing Sarah.

In my final year of interior architecture, while visiting Melbourne as a research trip for my thesis (with my friend, The Bride) I stumbled on Bizarre Beads on Swanston St.  We went in, and it was love at first sight. I bought pliers, wire and beads, and when the wire and tiger tail didn’t do what I wanted, I started playing with beads and pins (yep, the common variety with sharp ends that you buy at Officeworks) in my spare time, and visiting local bead shops. This began in earnest a little after our immediate return to Perth, as at that stage I was rather occupied with writing up my final thesis document.

On graduating I went off and got a job in a design firm. I had some spare time (despite the rigorous hours demanded by the design profession, 9-7 was normal – funny though how much time stressing about uni takes up, versus stressing about the day-job), and a general surprise for what constituted creativity in the day job. I kept on making jewellery pieces for me to wear, or for my four sisters and even little brother, and because I enjoyed it. I came up with my own way of working, and as I worked each area of the body asked questions of my method and suggested new pieces and combinations. I was eager to engage with each new possibility that I saw on finishing a piece. I made more works for my friends, and then friends of friends, for brides and bridesmaids, and eventually with the encouragement of my family, pieces to sell at a market stall in Kalamunda.

As I progressed, given what I had learned of jewellery from the pieces I made in high school, I knew there was a much richer area of practice. At this stage I wasn’t aware that I wanted in on that action, but I was soon to wake up to the fact.

In early 2004 I woke up one morning and couldn’t convince myself to go to work. On seeing me in the bathroom in clearly a fragile mood, my partner, the ubiquitous TurboNerd, asked me if I was ok. I broke down crying. I tried to protest that I was fine, I would calm down in time, but he wasn’t buying it, and declared it ‘Melissa Day’ for which we would both take the day off.* Together we walked around our neighbourhood and he asked me what I would most like to do on Melissa Day. I said that I would like to go to the art gallery. We went, and saw and exhibition of Howard Taylor’s work.

I was (and probably remain) pretty naive, and so had never made the leap that people in galleries can come from places I have heard of, and even from my city. I knew it intellectually, and my parents had friends who were artists, but it did not resonate within me until I found out that the man that had marveled at that morning was not only Western Australian, but had lived in Kalamunda, the suburb where I was from. Little did I know that I was soon to find out more. On mentioning seeing the retrospective exhibition to my mother, keen to share what a revelation it had been, I found out that my Nan, the person I loved most in the world, was, for a period of a couple of years, driven by Mr Taylor from Kalamunda to her job at Belle Gladstone’s (sounds like a made-up name, but it was a hat store run by Belle herself) also in the city, when he was teaching there.

On seeing Taylor’s maquettes along the gallery wall, I realised that I wanted to be an artist, in fact I couldn’t not be an artist. He was an excellent craftsman, this came through in all his works, as well as a intensely driven. I only realise now that the balance in me deciding my career was tipped in favour of design because it lead to a clear-cut profession, and that was important because I was scared of uncertainty. Taylor’s works that day showed a real professional, and I was drawn to this clarity of vision as much as the works.

I went back to work the next day with a renewed vision, but one I quietly tucked next to my chest. I made an appointment to speak with Brenda Ridgewell at Curtin University and started looking for a new job.

In April I attended a mini-symposium of jewellers on a Saturday morning. Organised by FORM, it allowed the four jewellery artists who were making works for an upcoming show called Home Ground to speak to a small audience. Helen Britton, Sarah Elson, Bronwyn Goss and Carlier Makigawa were all on the one bill. Seeing their work while hearing them speak about jewellery was beyond inspirational. Almost another epiphany.

These were actual jewellery artists. They were doing what I had only started to sense was what I wanted to do. There was a pathway for me to follow, and right here was some of the best travelling that road.  They spoke so naturally and with such knowledge about what was, for the most part, still a new world to me. And their work was amazing.

I had haunted the jewellery cabinets at Craftwest (what is now known as Form) when it had been in the same building as the train station in the city, so I knew of contemporary jewellery, but little of the artistic richness nor any of its protagonists. But that day I recognised one of the panel. Sarah Elson (who had her small [second?] child slung across her for most of the day, a picture of maternal serenity) looked really familiar. And as part of her presentation she mentioned that she had taught art at high school for two years. In Lesmurdie.

I spoke with her briefly after the presentation, she had recognised me also, and I told her that I had an appointment with Brenda for the coming week. She pointed her out to me, and I nervously introduced myself, telling her I’d see her next week. I didn’t have the confidence to tell Carlier and Helen how much I had enjoyed their presentations, but the clarity by which I remember the day tells me the impact that it made.

Home ground it was for me and my career too. The significant fact for me was that all these amazing artists had all began their training in little old Perth. In fact, that knowledge is still important to me.

In May that year I started a new job that involved lots of travel, an awesome boss and a new and interesting team of people. If I had not already decided that my career laid in jewellery, I may never have, at least not while in that job. I was so much happier.

As always, timing is everything.

* I have long promised a ‘Turbo Day’ in return, but he has yet to take me up on that offer

Categorized as history


I made this matching set back when I was in high school. I have spoken of it before, as the bracelet and matching earrings were made in my year 10 jewellery class. The ring was made the year before, or maybe even before that… A fair while ago, anyway.

I designed and made the set with the skills I’d learned in two previous semesters of jewellery instruction. I thought I’d been really clever when I scraped out a little hollow in the soldering brick so that the twisted lengths would end up with the rings soldered in the middle of each end. But in other areas I see now I was a little less thorough.

The bracelet jump rings are unsoldered, and the one in the centre front of the image is slightly out of proportion to the others. Of the two holes drilled for the earring hooks, one could be considered almost in the centre…

These were dug up in the recent hunt for the first piece I ever made. Thankfully I found my first work too. (Phew! It only took about a week…) It’s going to Sydney for the First and Last show.