Griffith NCJA 2010

After a small amount of confusion, I eventually got the above piece to Griffith, sent the day before the show opened. I had sent another piece (below) two weeks prior to this, as this was the piece that the gallery had asked for. Turns out, when they opened it, they found out that it wasn’t the piece they wanted.

When you get a phone call from the gallery the day before the show opens, the idea that you’ve sent the wrong piece is not the first thing to cross your mind…

The National Contemporary Jewellery Award shows until the 3rd of October at Griffith Regional Art Gallery, 167 Banna Ave, Griffith, NSW.

and the winner is…

Categorized as exhibition

remembering place

Today I thought I’d revisit the Return show that I curated earlier this year, via the catalogue essay written by Narelle Yabuka. Like all the artists in the show, Narelle is an ex-Perth resident, who currently lives and works in Singapore.

Remembering Place

I remember Perth. My favourite time of day in Perth was late afternoon, when the hard daytime sun transformed from a force of intimidation to an agent of soft, magical spaces. As it dipped toward the ocean it would cast shadows like carpets that carved out comfortable places in a previously vast and uncompromising backyard. I would enjoy dwelling in the shadows – gently and soft-bodied, without the narrowed eyes and physical tension that accompanied excursions into the afternoon heat. The wind would drop to orchestrate a symphony of sensory response; now I could hear the neighbours cooking dinner and practicing Beethoven bagatelles the piano, see a deeper shade of green on the lawn, feel gentle wafts of breeze on my arms, and perceive creatures in the garden beds that were previously bleached out of view. I’d stretch out, physically and mentally, in the shadows until they dissolved into night.

Are my memories truthful? Probably, my romancing about cool, calm ends to hot, hard days has taken on a rosier tinge than it might have given that the only form of heat relief in my current Singaporean high-rise home is mechanical. Yes, there was a little bit of invention in my garden memory. In my mind, the story incorporated many afternoons and the gardens of several Perth homes. Collectively, this group of disparate recollections informs my memory of dusk in Perth – an impression my mind visits regularly in the unrelenting tropical heat of my new concrete home.

Do my memories make me? Philosophers struggle to understand and explain the subjective and relative side of memory – the facet, distinct from habit or skill memories (such as how to drive a car), which emerges and recedes involuntarily and subconsciously. There is no doubt, however, that memory plays a key role in determining one’s personal identity. For creative practitioners who express a sense of themselves in their work, memory takes on another level of significance – as a contributor to the shaping of creative output.

Do I make my memories? It was confronting to read, while researching the philosophy of memory, that although autobiographical memory plays a part in the continuity of the self, memories of one’s personal past can actually alter based on changes in one’s self-conception. In their article “The Identity Function of Autobiographical Memory: Time is on Our Side” (Bluck, S. [ed] [2003], Memory, 11:2, 137–149), Anne E. Wilson and Michael Ross discussed how individuals can push away or pull forward memories for the purpose of self-enhancement in the present. Memories of past selves that are viewed as negative can be pushed into the distant past and disassociated from. Meanwhile, memories of positive selves can be kept current and influence one’s present sense of self. The purpose of such self-shaping of autobiographical memory, it would seem, is to promote wellbeing.

Re-placing myself. It’s an interesting exercise to consider the continued impressions and influences of a place you have left – particularly given the profound influence that a place has on lived experience. It gets me wondering why my story of garden shadows so dominates my thinking. I don’t currently have a private garden – just a collection of potted plants in a common open-air corridor. Enjoying natural environments is a Perth experience that I mourn. But if I lived in a big old breezy tropical bungalow surrounded by shade-giving trees, palms, and vines, would I still long for Perth’s river, beaches, bush, and backyards? Would I contemplate Singapore’s environment and flora – in analytical thought and in creative projects (as I do) – if I weren’t mourning my connection with Perth’s nature?

Replacing my place. It seems that my memories of my former place influence the way I look at and respond to my current place. An enjoyment of natural environments would appear (at present, or still) to be an aspect of my personal identity – a contributor to my sense of wellbeing. If I hadn’t grown up in Perth, and what’s more, with keen gardeners as parents and thriving backyards, this may not be the case. My experience of Perth influenced my behaviour and habits, and perhaps directed my senses of perception towards flora. In Singapore, I seek the cooling experience of gardens, and find creative inspiration in the very different conditions of nature – its absence from the domestic context, and its forceful abundance in the civic context, where it is used almost like a tool (to foster an image for the city, or to influence human behaviour; garden beds between footpaths and roads disallow jaywalking, for example).  A similar legacy of thought and response may not be the case for everyone. Perhaps one can only say with certainty that the influence of one’s memories of place will depend on the person and context.

March 2010

Narelle Yabuka is a writer, editor and educator. Currently she works in publishing at the helm of a Singapore-based publishing house, with her work featuring in books and magazines across Australia and Singapore.

and the winner is…

Simon Cottrell with his work Bulbs to barn doors? Congratulations Simon! (Ah yes, to further explain, he’s the winner of this year’s National Contemporary Jewellery Award.)

Being the all-round good-guy that Simon is, he allowed me permission to use his image of this work in my presentation at the JMGA conference in April of this year, so I just happen to have an image of it on hand. For more of his pieces see his page on Klimt02.

Simon Cottrell
Bulbs to barn doors? (2009)
Sheet monel 400 alloy
Image: Simon Cottrell


The National Contemporary Jewellery Award list of finalists has just been sent out.

without further ado:

Brendan Adair-Smith, Marina Antoniou, Kristy-Lee Agresta, Jane Bowden, Melissa Cameron, Simon Cottrell, Catherine Da Costa, Anna Davern, Christopher Earl Mibourne, Susan Frisch, Emi Fukuda, Linda Hughes, Tassia Joannides, Jin Ah Jo, Puneet Jodhka, Erin Keys, Ingrid Lockley, Chris Massey, Leslie Matthews, Claire O’Halloran, George Plionis, Nicole Polentas, Jessamy Pollock, Phoebe Porter, Brenda Ridgewell, Amy Robson, Regine Schwarzer, Mitsue Slattery, Bernadette Trainor, Linda Van Niekerk, Kathryn Wardill, Andrew Welch and Katherine Wheeler.

With so many of my friends on this list, someone I know is going to have to win it!

Categorized as exhibition

Mari Funaki – Objects @ NGV Fed Square

Excuse the shoddy image, I used the phone when I should have made the effort to pull out the camera…

I’m yet to find the pamphlet that lists all events, and the website was a little behind (now updated), so during my second visit (where I was told by the guard after I had scribbled down most of the pertinent facts in my sketchbook that photography was now allowed) I snapped this shot.

Suffice to say, I’ll be back.

where’s jewellist??

Craft Arts International (issue 79) -Reveiw of  Toowoomba Contemporary Wearables ’09, and still in the actual exhibition, as it slowly continues the tour around the eastern seaboard.
Klimt02 Forum
Noosa Regional Gallery

on the horizon
The Box Project
keeper @ gaffa, Sydney, then touring NZ
Measuring the space between
Hand Held Gallery, Melbourne

news just to hand
National Contemporary Jewellery Award
Griffith Regional Art Gallery, NSW

a day in the life

I’m going to add a review of yesterdays seminar in due course (in truth, when I don’t have a Part B meet to run to) since Damian encouraged us all at the end of his session to become critics, but in the meantime, a couple of snaps and one observation.

Damian loomed like a (good-natured) bouncer over his session, ensuring that the speakers spoke when spoken to. I would not have been game to shy away from appearing when summonsed by him either. Mostly for the tongue lashing that would inevitably ensue. (Though hearing what he got in between seat and stage for some speakers, I’d be tempted to linger just to hear what he could come up with.)

Mark Edgoose and team did a great job, a really significant day and hopefully a sign of  similar events to come.

also opening Thursday…

So, you’re in Sydney, not in Melbs for the Hand Held show. Well, you might want to head over to Keeper gallery at gaffa to see First and Last, also opening this Thursday at 6pm – 8pm.

The indefatigable Zoe Brand is curating this little beauty, which shows the first and last pieces of 20 different artists. With the aid of some explanatory text, the show is designed to to see where each artists is coming from, and maybe chart where they’re headed.

My work is hot off the bench, a new laser-cut piece in titanium with blue silk thread. And the old bit? (This is sounding like a wedding, something old and new, borrowed and blue… The old piece is the loaner, since it’s keepsake of of my childhood.) Well, it’s a nineteen year old brass ring I made for myself in my first year of high school. We were taught Jewellery in school! (I know, how cool is that?)

The address? Keeper Gallery at Gaffa, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney. And hurry on down, it runs from July 29 til August 9.