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


tomorrow around RMIT

Yesterdays major development at the Benjamin Lignel workshop @ RMIT is intended to translate to approximately 2 hours of ‘live’ projects around their city campus tomorrow afternoon, beginning at 1pm.

You’ve all be warned…

get a handle on yourself

Yesterday at the Benjamin Lignel workshop, half of the group were instructed to make a handle (an object that invited use, touching – it could subvert that also, repelling the user in some way even) in two hours. The other half had to make a pin. Then we swapped works, and the handlers put a handle onto the existing pin, and the pinners put a pin on the handle.

Here’s my handle, it’s in modelling card.

I’ve not whittled before…

I quite enjoyed it though

I wonder what’s in store for us today?

new news

Today I begin a week long workshop with Benjamin Lignel. He’s a designer/jeweller/historian… To further explain, this is part of what I wrote about him in my MFA thesis document 2009:

” Benjamin Lignel has trained in philosophy and literature, art history and furniture design. He explains on the Italian Associazione Gioiello Contemporaneo (the Association for Contemporary Jewellery) website, that his work  “continues to offer a design-led alternative to our craft-based profession: as an extended family of individual objects that hope to tackle specific aspects of body adornment” … Lignel’s works are made to engage with the machine, as the co-creator and as a muse.  Because of this his works exhibit a design methodology.  In order to fully engage with the machine he must, at every stage of design and manufacture, strive to reconcile his intent with the fast barriers that mass-production brings to his works.  Lignel is well equipped, in both philosophical and practical terms, to deal with the ramifications of his manufacturing process.  If design can be considered a way of finding new solutions to existing problems, Lignel is a jewellery designer.”

Weaving Workshop

Yesterday I did that weaving workshop I talked about a little while ago, with Maryann Talia Pau at Harvest Workroom. It was totally fab. Maryann is a relaxed and very natural teacher, and although I missed the first little bit, everyone was off to a good start by the time I arrived and so able to help me 😉

Actually I slotted in easily, with a little help from my neighbours, who told me how to cut the strips of Harvest’s textile offcuts to the right size, then to choose my preferred coloured raffia. Maryann (and Lucy) then helped me with the beginning of the basket – how to begin and get the blanket stitch going, and I was away! It was a large group of people, most with an artistic background, so as you might expect a really interesting array of works were produced.

Despite most of us being new to the technique, the time just flew by and the works produced were all so unique and beautiful. And many weavers claimed that their personality types were beginning to shine through their objects. I had a great time, sitting between Lucy of The Design Files and Jude, a high school arts teacher, along with meeting neighbours Phoebe, Ali, Helen and Jenny, and watching their works evolve along with my own.

I can highly recommend that you get along to Maryann’s two-day workshop there in October. With the extended format there’s a big chance that she’ll be able to share some more of her secrets.

With a bit more time I’ll finish the jewellery piece that I started at the workshop and share it here too. I’ve got some flying to do later this week – weaving myself something to wear in Sydney should kill some time.