I heart Asheville / Melissa does SNAGnext 2016

Image of Shared Concerns artists by Mercedes Jelinek
Shared Concerns artists by current Penland resident Mercedes Jelnieck

Keen observers will have noted my name on the list of people speaking at SNAGneXt this year in Asheville. Even keener ones will have noted that a few weeks ago I was near (and briefly in) Asheville, NC, at Penland for a week. Asheville: the neodymium magnet of the Carolinas*…

At the modified and re-branded SNAG conference this year I’m very pleased to have been invited to speak in the SNAGspark portion of the program, where I will be giving a presentation entitled Holistic Thinking: Interconnection in Jewels and Practice. There, amongst a few other things, I’ll share my “tips for maintaining a sustainable creative practice, gleaned from sources near and far.” The basic premise of my talk is that I get around, and in all the places I go, I’ve noticed a few common threads that help make for robust communities (first hint) and economically sustainable jewellery practices.

For those of you who are currently looking into coming to SNAG this year, it would be a wasted opportunity if you didn’t also go and visit the famed and newly renovated Penland Galleries while you’re in town. And because I am always in service to you, beloved reader, I am happy to provide you with one more excuse to take the hour-long drive into the mountains to finally see Penland for yourself, as showing there during May and part of June will be the Shared Concerns exhibition, which was the reason for my first Asheville visit earlier this year.

So, #SharedConcerns? What’s that all about?

Shared Concerns is an exhibition documenting the meeting of a group of artists, brought together to work in the Penland studios in the mountains of North Carolina. As a group they shared the intimate ‘concerns’ of their practice, and each has created a small suite of works that interprets the ‘concern’ of another group member. Pieces were begun during their Winter Residency at Penland, and finished in studios across the United States as well as in Australia and Denmark, where this diverse group of jewelry artists call home.

Myself and Aran Galligan, my friend and fellow Seattle-based artist, are coordinating the Shared Concerns exhibition series. Between the two of us we pulled together this group of jewellery artists to join us in North Carolina, many of who met each other for the first time just weeks ago at Penland. Our other participants are: Lynn BatchelderVincent Pontillo-VerrastroJill HermansDaniel DiCaprioCatie Sellers, and Kaori Juzu.

We spent a very short week with one another as participants in the Penland Winter Residency where we shared a studio, traded concerns to work on and enjoyed some profoundly creative times (as well as some amazing food) all on the Penland campus. We don’t know when we will meet again, but what we do know is that the work we began together will be completed over the coming months, and will go on show in the Penland Galleries in May, just in time to be seen by anyone visiting Asheville for SNAGneXt. From there the works will head on to Velvet da Vinci gallery in San Francisco for the opening of Shared Concerns there on the 1st of July, and from there it will travel internationally in 2017.

So if you’re coming to Asheville for SNAGneXt, be sure to set aside some time to see the best of this beautiful and creative city, drink some coffee (or at one of the supposedly *9* microbreweries in town) and head to Penland to see our Shared Concerns exhibition.


* Now, you realise that my getting around doesn’t usually mean dropping into Asheville twice in a six-month period, but they served me the best cup of decaf soy I’ve had since I was last in Melbourne (Cafe Vue, Melbourne Airport, April 2015) while I was there with the #SharedConcerns crew, so you know I have to go back. (This will be hot on the heels of another Melbourne visit *spoiler alert*, so the comparison will be more robust. Suffice to say, if it holds its own again, I’m thinking of moving…)

JMGA Sydney 2015

    My work from the Caltrops series - 20th C Caltrop, 2015 - will be appearing in the  'Perfect mutations' exhibition will be held at Chrissie Cotter gallery from July 8th (opening) to 20th 2015
My work from the Caltrops series – 20th C Caltrop, 2015 – will be appearing in the
‘Perfect Mutations’ exhibition at Chrissie Cotter gallery from July 8th as a part of the 2015 JMGA conference program. Curator: Michelle Genders

So I’m back from #SnagBoston, and made it home to cap off a great, if somewhat frenetic, conference experience with the 2015 edition of that perennial favourite, #SnagFlu. I’m blaming the 6:30am fire alarm on Thursday morning for getting us all off to a premature start, and costing us the last bit of energy needed to scrape home with immunity uncompromised. I know that I did promise a Snag update (and no, this is not it) immediately following the conference, but it’s been delayed… Sorry chaps!

Rather than history, we’re looking forward, as it’s time to remind y’all that coming up from the 10th – 12th of July is the biannual JMGA Conference, this time hosted by the wonderful team in Sydney, which is this year entitled edgesbordersgaps. From the exhibition media:

In 2015 the broader conference project includes 3 days of talks; an exhibition program; a workshop program (pre- and post- conference); social events, including the infamous Pin Swap; and additional satellite events [that] include a multitude of jewellery exhibitions.

Guest speakers include:- Peter Bauhuis, Pravu Mazumdar, Atinuj Tantavit, Gitte Nygaard & Josephine Winther (Makers Move). Workshop hosts include Philip Sajet, Peter Bauhuis, Vick Mason, Sue Lorraine and Catherine Truman.

For the extended blurb see the website; I’m going to cut to the chase on this:


The name might not immediately ring bells, but if you keep up to date on the AJF website (RSS that sh*t, c’mon people, it’s important) and blog you will know him as the author of two (or one, if you push the halves of what was intended as a whole back together) of the best posts that went up last year. His critique of criticism is  well reasoned and beautifully written, and his analysis of Bruce Metcalf meticulous and incisive, and the whole piece a master work on the subject, both necessary and timely. But don’t believe me:

Against Criticism pt I
Against Criticism pt II

Not yet convinced? He’s spoken in Munich during the Schmuck week at Die Neue Sammlung – The International Design Museum Munich, and written catalogue essays for Alchimia amongst others. If I had not already made my quota of trips back home for the next 3 years in the last 12 months I’d be stomping onto an A380 and getting my butt to Sydney for his presentation alone. I cannot wait to hear what else has been forming in this person’s brain. I will willingly give this little stage to any person who wants to share, or perhaps even critique, his presentation in Sydney.

And there’s more! For some more detail on the rest of the presentations, check out the Speakers tab on the website.


Image courtesy Platforma
Image courtesy Platforma

Going to be in Boston for the SNAG conference this week? Come say hi! Not going to be there? Follow along with the shenanigans on Instagram or Twitter by following @thejewellist (t) or @thejewellist (i).

Don’t know/care what I’m talking about with all that #@ nonsense? Then stay with me here on the blog and I’ll wrap it up at the end of the weekend. But for those of you needing a hit beforehand, here’s the skinny on where I’m going to be…

1/ OK, first up, permit me one more hashtag while I explain what I’m going to be doing on Friday:

Collect- from our Artist-Agents (announced soon)
Photograph- on yourself or a friend
Hashtag- #stickitsnag
Post (fb/insta/twitter)

It’s a secret no more! I’m an Artist-Agent (always wanted to be agent melissa!) for Platforma’s 2015 #‎STICKITSNAG‬ SNAG adventure. Come get yourself a sticker from me any time on Friday, put it on, snap a pic and post it – oh and hashtag yourself and the gorgeous work/non-work. And might I add, one of those images is actually a work from me… It’s simultaneously the most/least effort I’ve ever put into a pin-swap 😉

2/ My video (need I remind you?!) is IN COMPETITION! I’m keen to get it played in front of a whole auditorium of my peers – am I? Well, lets say I am, and let’s say you could be a decisive figure in actioning my wish.

I know, actioning?

3/ Trunk Show!!

The Sieve Pattern of 2010, lasercut in Arches watercolour paper, 2015 along with a work from The Sieve series, Layered Window, 2010-2015
The Sieve Pattern of 2010, lasercut in Arches watercolour paper, 2015, along with a work from The Sieve series, Layered Window, 2010-2015, stainless steel.

I have amassed a beautiful collection of my Sieve series works – including some rare 2015 jewels that I recently made made from parts that I had been holding on to for a rainy day –  and today I’ve taken delivery of a limited edition set of full-sized laser-engraved prints of the Sieve pattern from my laser-cutter, all of which will be for sale at the Trunk Show this coming Saturday! The laser-engraved prints pictured are full size and in miniature, with the smaller versions to be packaged with works sold at SNAG only!

(I had a copy of this pattern pasted on my wall over my computer in Australia, under which I had written and signed “When I die I want this pattern etched onto my casket.” That’s how proud I was of this work/how much I love this pattern.)

All of these, along with some pieces from the One Design Series (yup – as shown in the video above) as well as a few earrings and pieces from the La Geometrie Series will be on display this Saturday, so if you’ve every wanted to check out an array of my all stainless and titanium works, Saturday is the day.

The Trunk Show will be held on the 23rd of May in the Plaza Ballroom with VIP entry from 3:30 pm and open to all from 4:30pm – 6:30pm. Not at the conference? No worries! Come along – we’re at the The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Tower, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington St. Boston, MA 02116

And for those of you who are nowhere near the conference – let’s talk. Email me for a price list.

Start spreading the news…

One Design - #12 Brooch 04

S’ok, my eyes aren’t blue. I’m off to New York (State that is), on Monday to teach an enamelling class as a part of the Enamel Guild North East’s annual Conference series. The Friday-Saturday class is fully booked, but if you’re in the area and free on Wednesday-Thursday it’s not too late! If you check out that class you can stick around for the Helen Elliott: Painting on Steel enamel class, or Chris Darway: Shadow Boxing on Friday-Sat or even Katharine Wood: Linear Solutions on Saturday. Not to mention all the shenanigans of the actual conference on Sunday. Amongst sales and raffles I’m going to be talking about my practice!

But if you’re not in NY and you want to come hang out with me and learn something about applying liquid enamel to steel? Well I have 2 more options for you.

1\ Local enamel aficionado Rebbecca Tomas has kindly asked me to team up with her to teach an eight-week class at Pratt in Seattle, Beginning Enameling Survey. Starting on the 25th of March, Rebbecca will take the class through the basics of enameling onto copper, and then I step in on week five to take the scene to the steel level. It’s going to be a comprehensive guide to getting the best bang for you buck out of powdered and liquid enamels on the two best materials, copper and steel.

2\ If an 8 intensive is not your style, and you were looking for a early-summer West Coast play-cation, then perhaps this final class will be more up your alley? On June 13th and 14th I’ll be reprising last year’s Enamel on Copper and Steel in a weekend workshop, also at Pratt in Seattle. In that class we’re going to be using liquid enamels on new and recycled steels and copper, working with them and the sandblaster to achieve unique textures and surfaces. I know I’ve had some queries as to when I’d be doing another weekend workshop, so I’m glad to finally be able to oblige. I’ll be sure to let you know when it goes live for registration.

Enamel time!

Jewel for a wall - brooches, wall work

Yes folks, it’s getting close to enamel time. If you’re in New York State in the middle of next month, you can come take a two-day class with me at the Enamel Guild North East annual workshops, and see me give a presentation about my work at the conference on Sunday the 22nd of March. And if you’re not anywhere the US let alone Upstate NY, you can read about the impending shenanigans in an interview I did, as well as see some pictures of my new work there, or up on the EGNE facebook page. Go on, like me, you know you want to 😉

SNAG Conference 2014

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!


So, back to Melbourne in July…

Whoa, was it back in August that I put out my last In Melbourne post? I promised back then to fill you in on what happened at the Seams Seems symposium, which I will now attempt to finish up.

On Friday the 19th of July, a blustery and rainy day in Melbourne, a committed group of art-jewellery fanciers headed out to the Monash MADA department at the university’s Caulfield campus to ogle some new works and listen to a raft of intelligent thoughts on the state of jewellery exhibition, making and education options in Australia and the USA.

The speakers for the Seams Seems symposium, timed to coincide with the opening of the Seams Seems exhibition at MADA, were;

Dr Robert Bell, AM: Senior Curator Decorative Arts and Design, National Gallery of Australia
Katie Scott: Director of Gallery Funaki, Melbourne
Lisa Fehily: Director of Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne
Professor Robin Quigley: Head of Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
Lousje Skala: Current MFA jewellery and metalsmithing candidate at MADA. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
Associate Professor Tracy Steepy: Graduate Program Director – Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
Wendy Parker: Coordinator Postgraduate Research and Jewellery and Object Design. School of Design Studies, COFA, Sydney. MADA jewellery and metalsmithing graduate.
Roseanne Bartley: Current lecturer in the MADA jewellery stream
Melissa Cameron: MADA jewellery and metalsmithing graduate. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
Biatta Kelly: Current PhD jewellery and metalsmithing candidate at MADA. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems
Anna Varendorff: Current MADA jewellery and metalsmithing candidate. Artist exhibiting in Seams Seems

The day opened with a short introduction from Dr Marian Hosking, former head of the jewellery and metalsmithing stream at MADA (I believe she has retired, but is still finishing up with her postgrad students?) and the organiser of the symposium.

The keynote speaker Dr Robert Bell followed – with some insights about working with the jewellery collection at the National Gallery of Australia. I found his presentation really engaging, as he spoke about the contemporary jewellery collection, the acquisitions process (and the “poignant moment” of this process as a work transfers from private to public ‘hands’ is the last time that someone actually gets to hold the acquired works with hands un-gloved) and the then upcoming Bodywork exhibition, closing with his own personal story of how, at the tender age of seven, the Art Gallery of Western Australia forever changed his world.

The jewellery gallery within the National Gallery opened in 2009 and occupies a prime location, such that 75% of the people who go to exhibitions elsewhere in the gallery stop to see it on their way through. There are approximately 100 jewellery works on display there, making it an equal amount of pieces as are paintings on display on the International Floor. At this stage there are not a lot of labels detailing contextual material (the benefit that small works take up less space also means that there is less space for explanation panels) but they are in the process of installing QR codes to link to 200 word statements to each of the works.

The other news he shared with the jewellery community, which will be of no surprise to many by now since it has already started, is the Bodywork exhibition. This exhibition of Australian jewellery owned by the NGA will be travelling to ten regional galleries from 2013 to 2015. The exhibition began at the Moree Plains Gallery on the 7th of September, 2013, and will stay there until the 3rd of November, so if you’re in the area I urge you to go check it out!

I will have more on that show as it travels about the place – and I’ll talk more about about what Dr Bell explained to us about the collection and he did spend a lot of time outlining the curatorial position of this travelling show, as well as the difficulties faced by the curatorial team in choosing works to travel, specifically owing to the fragility of some of the constituent materials of the jewellery objects in the collection. He explained that the exhibition is taking in almost exclusively regional centres as it has been designed for galleries that traditionally would not be able to get access to such well executed exhibitions, and no doubt access to anything from the National Gallery owing to the prohibitive insurance and other costs associated with transporting and installing larger works.

And my big news, which was revealed to the audience by Marian Hosking and reiterated in this presentation, is that my work Infinity Affinity III was collected by Dr Bell for the National Gallery earlier this year, and is now currently on tour in the Bodywork exhibition.

Melissa Cameron, Infinity Affinity III 2011. Vintage pie tin, steel. Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Image © Melissa Cameron 2011
Melissa Cameron, Infinity Affinity III 2011. Vintage pie tin, steel. Collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Image © Melissa Cameron 2011

Finally, his story about the WA Museum (I’m pretty sure that none of you will remember reading about my ‘aha’ moment at the WA Art Gallery) which was then physically linked to the WA Art Gallery in its architecture, was that he came from the dinosaurs and other treats that an old-fashioned museum had to offer, right into a magnificent carved wood sculpture, that had been made by a human! A work by Gerald Lewers (father of Darani Lewers) in fact greeted the seven year old Bell and changed his view of art forever, no doubt influencing his choice of profession. He reminded the audience that getting our jewellery, via exhibitions such as Bodyworks, into the view and minds of other children and adults was really important, as “Today could be the day,” that one such piece of art could change someone’s world view forever.

I won’t go into the same detail for the speakers that followed, in part because they presented for less time, and because they generally spoke about what you would expect them to. Katie Scott began speaking about taking on the directorship of Gallery Funaki in Melbourne after the passing of the beloved Mari Funaki, and her slowly and deliberately evolving vision for the future. She also spoke with great passion about her artists and the place her space takes in the world of galleries, and also detailed her reasons for the new fitout, the slides of which were wonderful to see how the space can be configured by and for the exhibiting artists.

Lisa Fehily spoke about what drew her and her family to collecting, and thus ultimately what impelled her to start her own gallery space,  Fehily Contemporary in Melbourne. She has represented jewellery in solo shows in the short time her space has been running and sees it in the light of any other artwork, remarking that “Contemporary jewellery is inherently conceptual.”

Lousje Skala and Robin Quigley got switched with a computer glitch, so rather than the running order as published above, Lousje Skala came next. Skala, who was represented at Schmuck earlier this year by her pristine printed nylon and chromed works, spoke about coming back to jewellery making after a hiatus, and how her ‘gift of deafness’ (Skala is profoundly deaf) enriches her works. She was at pains to point out that her perceived heightened “visual acuity” resulting from this deficit does not make her different or better than any other visual artist, but that it has, and continues to, inform her own experience. In explaining her process she revealed that she “Thinks like a scientist, behaves like a designer and produces the work of an artist.” I can wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, as I often feel that my position in the art jewellery world is not one of the solo maker – this often times being the easiest/most appropriate way to describe my output – despite the fact that in the creation of my works I alternate between researcher, designer, commissioner and producer.

Professor Robin Quigley spoke about the school and faculty that she is in charge of at Rhode Island School of Design, as well as the undergrad student outcomes. They are justifiably proud of their strong program. Associate Professor Tracy Steepy spoke about the graduate program as well as gave us an overview of many of the artists from RISD that were exhibiting in the Seams Seems exhibition.

Wendy Parker spoke about her programs, as well as the fact that the department is in flux, pending changes at the end of the school calendar this year. She also spoke about her own work, including the making of a ritual object for installation into fashion designer Issey Miyake’s house.

Roseanne Bartley very smartly gave the same presentation that she had given at the JMGA conference the week before and then the last three, myself, Biatta Kelly and Anna Varendorff spoke about our own practices. I was asked by Marian Hosking to speak about ‘staying connected’, so I did.

And following this I, and a few other current and ex students, took a tour of the new jewellery facility with Vito Bila (pics coming soon!) and then attended the opening of the Seams Seems exhibition.

Phew, you thought I’d never finish, eh?
I gotta be honest, so did I at one point…

Recently, in Melbourne…

After finishing up the JMGA conference on Sunday the 14th in Brisbane, I travelled on to Melbourne for a couple of openings and a symposium before heading home to Seattle. Upon landing in Melbourne on Monday I headed directly to the Project Space/Spare Room gallery, as I mentioned previously, to fondle the artworks (including my own) alongside curator Claire McArdle.

01 Installation WWWA 02 Installation WWWA

Also mentioned previously, Elizabeth Turrell my enamel-on-steel mentor was in town to teach a workshop at RMIT University, so on Wednesday night I went to see her speak about her work. Elizabeth, as she mentioned on the night, is quite reluctant to speak about her own pieces, so it was a unique opportunity for me to find out about a few other projects that she has been involved with, as well as see images of some that had been described to me while I was studying with her in Bristol.

On Thursday night I attended the opening of Words and Works form a World Away and got to read up about each of the individual works, which added another layer of meaning to an already impressive array that I had, by that stage, already spent a bit of time with.

05 WWWA Exhibition 2013 04 WWWA Exhibition 2013 03 WWWA Exhibition 2013 02 WWWA Exhibition 2013 01 WWWA Exhibition 2013

On Friday I attended and spoke at the Seams Seems symposium at MADA – Monash Art Design and Architecture at the Caulfield campus. There I also got to see the Seams Seems exhibition. More on both of those events soon, though for the canny amongst you, you may have already noticed that I have put up my full text of the presentation from the Seams Seems symposium in the newly added ‘Symposia‘ link above.

JMGA conference 2013

or: What went down in BrisVegas doesn’t necessarily stay in BrisVegas…

This was my 3rd JMGA conference, my first being in 2008 in Adelaide while I was a masters student. My first experience was a great one – though the main feeling I remember taking away from it was that “I’ve found my people!” After being an interior designer and attending Design Institute of Australia conferences and other expos in the design world, this was my first opportunity to gather amongst the professionals (or grown-ups) of my new industry. I was immediately surprised by how likeable and moreover how similar everyone else seemed to me, right down to the dress sense! This year I was out to recapture the excitement of that experience, owing to the new city (I’d only flown through Brisbane up until this point) and the length of time it had been for me between seeing my jewellery-folk. It wasn’t all my fault, it had been an extra year between conferences owing to the Brisbane flooding and for me it had been over twelve months since I had caught up with many of the other attendees.

103 JMGA 13So, come the first morning I was ready and raring to get amongst some full-on conference action, and while this year I was not dressed in black like all the rest of my people (you call that winter, Brisbane?! though the wonderfully colourful Danae Natsis was giving me a run for my money so I didn’t feel out of place) I was keen to hear what everyone had to say.

The conference proper began on Friday the 12th of July, and the opening salvo was by our first keynote speaker Peter Deckers, who, in an early slide had me wondering what the hell I am hoping to achieve by remaining in the art jewellery world. Are we all clinging to the sinking ship? While that question didn’t specifically get answered during the course of the next three days (yet it often seemed to loom), I did have plenty of chances for a consensual love-in with my fellow jewellery-kind as we were treated to some great presentations. The better ones dwelt on the Participation and Exchange of the theme, showing in real and dynamic ways that jewellers, and the objects that they make, can make enduring connections to the society they are a part of.

104 JMGA 13The standouts for me were (and I’m not totally relying on memory for this, I take notes when I’m more engaged in these events, to the point that it’s almost mathematical – more notes = more interest) Peter Deckers, Roseanne Bartley, Tricia Flanagan, Genie Lee, Kevin Murray, Laura Bradshaw-Heap and Kristin D’Agostino. Now, I also really enjoyed Christine Scott-Young talking about Part B and Mary Hackett on the topic of Blacksmith Doris, but these guys are good friends whose projects I know fairly well, so while I took no notes, I certainly enjoyed their presentations and particularly the opportunity to talk about and listen to the questions that came directly after them. Also I took a bucketload of images during the engaging and delightful presentation made by Mel Young and Lauren Simeoni, so if I go by weight of pictures these two totally won the conference!

Melinda Young and Lauren Simeoni - Lauren hit behind the stage and gradually added the fake flora to the backdrop throughout the presentation.
Melinda Young and Lauren Simeoni – Lauren hid behind the stage and gradually added fake flora to the backdrop throughout the presentation.

It has been a while and these ramblings are not polished, so apologies to all if I misrepresent anyone or anything in what is to follow, but I’d like to make some connections between the speakers that I have noted. Some of these formed on the day(s), and a few leapt from the pages of my notebook as I assembled these thoughts. (I also feel bad that I did not go to town on reviewing this conference as I did on the SNAG one earlier this year for the AJF website, but as a presenter I felt that I lacked the critical distance necessary.)

101 JMGA 13

In semi-chronological-order, (I am going to break that later on, sort of) after Peter Deckers pointed out the worries of the Eurozone, I have on my list Roseanne Bartley who presented Thinking Big with Something Small. Bartley’s dissection of the notion that comes across any right-thinking makers mind, namely, that it is supremely naive to expect that one could ‘use jewellery to change the world’, left me feeling better about my decision to walk this path, and added a sense of importance to her presentation of how she goes about her practice with this explicit aim in mind. A different, or perhaps fuller explanation recontextualised, in my mind, the works of hers that I know and have seen her present before both at other symposia and in the gallery.

102 JMGA 13In a similar vein yet in the opposite direction, Kevin Murray (at the end of day 2) with India Australia Dialogue-An Indian Rite of Passage for Australian Jewellery, began his presentation about art jewellery and jewellery in general in India, and used this to flip what I knew about his previous projects in India on its head. He illustrated his words with the images of Katheryn Leopoldseder‘s pieces of dwellings – with the idea that the house is possibly the location of one’s status and wealth in Australia, whereas in India that place is more likely the body. This idea therefore explains the high importance that pure gold has in the jewellery worn there, noting that while each system is different, neither is ‘better’. This, added to the Indian art jewellers he presented on, I felt that this context added a new dimension to the later part of his presentation, giving greater weight to the notion that owing to the lack (or at least incredibly low incidence) of those in the art jewellery world – or perhaps any other designers/artists – using the methods and skills available in that country, there are artisans having to give up their trade (in other crafts, yet ones sympathetic with jewellery that could be used by art jewellers from outside if they found an appropriate inlet into – or outlet for – such skills) owing to it not being a profitable living. Once again (as I have seen this happen at other fora) this discussion became contentious in a room full of makers for whom the design and output of their works is only arrived at via the intrinsic nature of their making process, and thus to whom outsourcing is almost an anathema. The artists discussing this were passionate about keeping their local skilled workforce; which I felt in some way was the same point that Murray was trying to make, but in a broader sense. He appeared to be arguing that the handmade is culturally on a precipice, and if someone (including outside artisans if the local ones can only see jewellery as gold) does not save the artisan in India, this knowledge will be permanently lost, to all of us.

105 JMGA 13

It is interesting that in Australia, as in the USA (as I discuss at leeeength here) there is still very significant ties to the idea of the artisan (simultaneously skilled ideator and maker) in the art jewellery world. Murray noted during the discussion following his presentation that there is a division of labour in other artforms, and that he considers the idea of art jewellery artisan to be a romantic view often adhered to by jewellers, and that in reality we need not be the same person (and this is where my thoughts of that sinking ship, ahem, resurface.) But it is a premise that I find I have to agree with. As you would have noticed, I am using the term art jeweller throughout this text, and deliberately because I feel it best encapsulates the audience who collected and the artists who spoke at this conference. I also feel that ‘art jeweller’ as a notion in the very wording implies the ability for the separation of idea/thought from action. (Admittedly, an equally if not more popular descriptor at this conference was ‘maker’.) I too believe that there is the ability for some form of reciprocity with the material that can also coincide with a new version of outsourcing (the more difficult ‘sell’ in Murray’s particular presentation, I do realise), and that jewellery has a long and continuing history of using different skills from different people to make a single object. [And while art jewellery at first distinguished itself from ‘high street’ jewellery by claims of single-artist authorship, they often collaborated with materials that had gone through significant human-interference before they could even begin to make claims as to that authorship.]

In between these two presentations, which happened more than a day apart, were the presentations from another keynote speaker Tricia Flanagan, and Genie Lee. Flanagan presented on her many community focused projects (she is a public artist with links to fashion and objects, so in her practice covers similar ground to many art jewellers) though it was her ability to plant herself square in her contextual territory – in what she said was “A post acquisitive society” and in a “Western capitalist context” – that impressed me most.

106 JMGA 13This self awareness, and her notion of the role of the artist in the world as an outsider, observer and even community facilitator had parallels in the presentation by another keynote speaker, Laura Bradshaw-Heap. Heading up day three as our final keynote, Bradshaw-Heap noted that her work is “A means to meet, work and create with new people.” She presented her jewellery works and her social projects, the two sides to an interesting and varied artistic practice. She spoke further about her making with community groups, and how she has to carefully distinguish this work from the studio making that she does in relation and reaction to this work. She also mentioned that she is actually preparing to pursue further studies in ethnography, owing to her discomfort in the slippage that occurs in her own practice between relational art and ethnography.

The other presentation that split Murray and Bartley was one by New Zealand MFA student Genie Lee, Between You, Your Object and the space in-between. Despite her revealing that she had been chided by the organisers for not having a highly academic paper, nor a proper ending, I was completely charmed by her project; which was asking migrants like herself to think of the most important thing that they brought with them on their journey. She photographed each person as they told the story of their journey and the object (many of them being jewels), in their own home. These photographs, along with the story, was what she presented to us. In her opening she spoke of jewellery in physiological terms, that it is a transitional object, and her presentation bore out her point that jewellery making is us creating a second heart to pass on.

107 JMGA 13And once again, the similarity of Lee’s content to Kristin D’Agostino’s final-day presentation, with her thoughts Dipping a toe in the participatory realm: Project versus Practice is serendipitous. D’Agostino is (by proxy) another artist from the New Zealand contingent (there were many speakers from NZ this year, a fact that I really appreciated as I got the opportunity to meet people like Kristin with whom I have corresponded for years but had not yet met.) She shared her thoughts on jewellery practice in general – that jewellery is the original participatory art as, “This art is incomplete without the viewer’s physical interaction.” as well as the more participatory projects that she is involved with – The Overview Newsletter and the Broach of the Month club. Once again it is a maker involving the public in her projects, by force if necessary, getting her (and others’) pieces out into the world and then having the wearer tell the story of what it’s like out there as human plinth art-jewellery wearer.

At this point I have to congratulate the organisers, and particularly Catherine Large and Elizabeth Shaw, who were precious about keeping to the theme, thus ensuring quality time to properly pursue the interests of the audience through the dialogue resulting at the end of each presentation. There were many issues wrestled throughout the weekend, that in the follow-up were collectively dissected or hammered home through this discussion, and I thought the level of discourse was encouragingly high.

Finally, if you do want to read my presentation, How to become an artist jeweller: a community case study, or as I amended it on the day – How to become an artist jeweller: a Seattle community case study, I have just added it, as well as the full text from my 2010 JMGA paper Examining the connections between architecture and jewellery: Looking into the last 100 years to inform a vision of jewellery practice in the future, to this blog. They now have their own page, (also see above.) I have done the same with my most recent symposium presentation, but more on that coming soon.

And that, my friends, brings this summation home.

May you all find someone to be your human plinth decorated subject, and thus may we all live happily ever after! (Far, far from the ocean and its sinking ships…)

BrisVegas and M-town – prequel

As you may have suspected, owing to my less-than-discreet trumpeting of upcoming events that I was going to actually attend in my home country, I’ve just returned home to Sunny Seattle from Australia.

Whilst there I went to a LOT of jewellery related events, spoke at a couple and generally ran around getting my fill of home-town food, comedy, gossip, family, friends and most importantly, jewellery.

Another common thread (beyond just jewellery) through my whole trip was running into people who I have previously communicated with online, with the majority of contact coming thanks to this ‘ere blog. So before I get caught up in talking about all the action of the last couple of weeks, I want to send a shout-out to everybody who came and met me in real-body:

I really loved meeting you, finally! It was great to catch up and please lets keep in touch. 🙂

Suffice to say I was frequently in a position to appreciate the kindness of strangers, and lucky for me getting to ‘talk blog’ in person is just as good, if not even better, as receiving comments online, though believe me I do (still) go mad for comments up here (as I might have alluded to in my presentation at the Seams Seems symposium – I’ll pop that up here soon too, promise.)

And to the lovely lady in Melbourne who had me pointed out at the end of Elizabeth Turrell’s lecture, I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat, I didn’t realise you would be departing so soon! Corner me next time and feel free to chide me for being rude…

Now, as usual I was in a flurry of making before I left, firstly to finally to send my works to the My Australia exhibition at the Berkeley River Lodge in the Kimberley in WA and to have a pin ready to swap at the JMGA Pin-Swap dinner. And since I had the kiln on doing some enamelling, I finally got to working on some rings for the La Geometrie series, which I’d had set out ready to enamel on my enamelling bench for several months.

So, since they were enamel, and since that enamel was a theme amongst the people I had been chatting about the blog to, I figured it was time I updated the Enamel on Steel – some insights section of this blog. (And of course no small amount of enamel impetus was provided by the incredible Elizabeth Turrell who was coincidentally teaching a workshop in Melbourne while I was in town.) With the pin and ring works I just finished I have been using graphite again, so I have specifically added more detail and images to the ‘using graphite‘ section. However, if it’s been a while since you’ve read the post I have also responded to a bunch of questions and comments right down the bottom, in an effort to clarify and add more detail to what is written above. In an effort to save you some time in trying to find what I’ve just added today, I’ve re-posted it here in full:

*new graphite experiment results*

So I have been at it again, firing some graphite directly over a clear and a half clear/half red enamel surface. The pieces below were created by firing a couple of very thin layers of enamel (Thompsons Clear and their Chinese Red that was a half/half mixture with clear, a mixture I created to help the red stick first time around or to provide a bit of colour to an undercoat for the red) and then abrading them back with my trusty set of 3M diamond hand pads. On the freshly abraded surface I was able to draw directly with graphite pencil and then fire, and this was enough to get the graphite to stick beautifully. On the broch – the piece in the centre – I added an extra layer of clear over the fired pencil, so with the grey on grey the linework doesn’t come up in the photograph too well, though that is not all in the photography, as in fact in some lighting it’s hard to see with the reflections on the layer of enamel.

d Melissa Cameron_Enamelled Trio_2013

However the Cardinal Point ring on the left-hand-side also has two layers of graphite on different layers of enamel, so you can see the shadowy layer on the top-left of the drawing that is the layer under the final layer of enamel. The Locations ring on the right only has one layer of graphite, which sits atop the second (and final) layer of enamel.

d Melissa Cameron_Pin-swap brooch_2013

A slightly better view of the linework…

And if you were at the conference you might have seen the superlative Mel Young sporting this on Saturday night. More on her and her frequent creative collaborator Lauren Simeoni very soon.