Thank you to everyone who came to the opening of my installation ‘A Year of Time’ and the group show that I co-ordinated ‘It’s been 10 years’. What a fabulous exclamation mark to put to the end of a jam packed year. The shows are on until the 23rd December so there’s still time to come by and swap ‘some time’ for part of the installation.
We’re looking forward to 20/17 – as it’s our year!
It’s going to be a fabulous one.
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To celebrate 9 years at our current location, the festive season, and our Christmas Exhibition (which opens tomorrow afternoon), we’re offering all our very special customers a discount code to be used both online and in store. From midnight tonight, you’ll be able to use the code ‘1dayonly’ to receive 10% off any purchases for the following 24 hours. We look forward to sharing a glass of Christmas cheer with you tomorrow between 4 – 6pm.
I’ve been busting to tell you all about our new artist run project space opening on the north side of our gorgeous harbour….and now I can!
From 1st January 2017, at 53 Ridge Street, North Sydney, we’ll be showcasing all of your favourite contemporary jewellery. We’ll also be working at the bench, hosting an ongoing exhibition program and holding free demonstrations on jewellery making techniques.
With the support of North Sydney Council, Studio 20/17 Project Space will be able to offer a fantastic subsidized exhibition opportunity for emerging and established contemporary jewellery and object artists.
The space is available for artists to exhibit contemporary wearable and object art, including jewellery, textiles, ceramics and glass.
We’re currently inviting proposals from artists and curators for our 2017 program. Applications close 31 January 2017. We only have the subsidised space for one year so get in quick! Download details, or contact Bridget for more information.
Opening hours Tuesday to Saturday 11-5pm. Contact 0411 808 274.
We love collaborating with other creatives. I Recently fabricated a series of brooches designed by Artist, Christopher Hodges, of Utopia Art Sydney for an exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery. The brooches were inspired by Polynesian floral motifs and reference his larger scale sculptural work. The works were hand sawpierced from original artist drawings, ensuring that every small nuance of the artist’s hand was captured in the finished works.
– Bridget Kennedy
I’m enjoying making this new range of commitment rings from recycled gold.Whilst you can’t see it here, featured on the inside of each band is a row of three, small inlaid enamel dots (echoing the colour of the gemstone). A private reminder to the wearer that there are not just two individuals, but also the relationship as the third element that needs love, nurturing and commitment in any ongoing partnership – Bridget.
ps. the image on the right is an inprogress shot with the final touches being applied.
Looking for some personal attention?
Bridget and Melanie now offer private teaching and mentoring classes on Sundays, Mondays or after hours during the week. Whether you want to hone up on a few skills, have a couple of projects you really want to immerse yourself in, or just like the idea of that personal touch when it comes to learning, we can help. We also offer one on one mentoring for emerging jewellery artists who’d like some guidance on developing a collection, approaching galleries or managing their creative practice.
Pop over to the online shop to grab a few hours, and we’ll call you to tee up a time. Or alternatively, give us a call at the gallery on 02 9698 7999 to find out more.
The people who are close to Bridget know she HATES to throw things out unnecessarily.
No, she’s not a hoarder, just someone who respects resources and hates waste!
As a result, she’s decided to hold a series of short workshops teaching people the skills to repair, re-use, re-design, re-create existing jewels to bring them back to life.
The first of these will be a 1:30 hour restring/reknot workshop. Limited to 5 places only, this workshop will teach you how to individually reknot a broken pearl necklace (or other similar favourite beaded string necklace). You’ll learn a couple of different knotting techniques and be provided wth silk thread and other materials needed to repair one necklace. Bring your coffee and your beads and come along to this informal and friendly workshop! Book Here
contact the gallery for upcoming dates
Ages 12 and up
Cost $48 (includes material costs to reknot one necklace)
Bookings essential – Only 5 places available
Our gift certificates can be purchased online and posted directly to your loved ones. The certificates come packaged in a box with a crisp white ribbon and if needed can be sent directly to your loved ones.
Joanna Harris MacNeil is an established jewellery designer who works extensively with enamel.
We interviewed Joanna to find out a bit more about her practice and what inspires her designs.
What led you to start making jewellery?
I was living in London about to start a Phd in Genetics when, with 6 months to wait I did a gemology course with Gem A in the UK. I met jewellers, they invited me into their studios and recommended a jewellery making course. I was hooked.
What has been your educational path?
Science mostly for years but in 2008/9 I did a Diploma in jewellery at London Metropolitan University, following that a 2 year Diploma at NMIT in Melbourne and currently I am ¾ of the way through a Masters in Visual Art (Gold and Silversmithing) at ANU.
Do you derive your inspiration from a particular source?
My eyes, my hands, the process of enamelling and fabrication and the part of the world that I inhabit at the time of making.
What is your creative process? Do you start with drawing, an object, an image, make models…
All of the above at different times but I do find that a little time spent really looking at the world around me stimulates ideas. I often start with a drawing and if it’s a really new design I make a model to see how it all fits together.
What led you to the technique of enamelling?
While I was studying in London I was lucky enough to be taught by Joan MacKarrel. I’ve been experimenting ever since.
What brand of enamels do you use?
I use Thomson lead free enamels when I use opaques. Barbara Ryman recently introduced me to Japanese Ninomya transparents.
Could you tell us more about the techniques you use in enamelling?
I mainly work with opaque enamels. If I sift enamels I build up layers and grind them back until I achieve the result that I want. If I paint with enamel I use a variety of brushes, pencils and quill pens to draw on the enamel surface.
You employ a limited colour palette in your enamelled pieces, why do you choose these colours?
The body of work that I have was inspired by a visit to the grave of my Great Grandfather in France. I was surprised by my emotional response to this and as a result created enamel pieces that are intended to evoke poppies, trenches and simple hand stitching. There is a hole, a piece missing from each item that I make, this represents for me the effect that the death of my Grandfather had on my family for generations.
How has your work evolved since you began?
I began making flowers and setting stones. My idea of jewellery has broadened significantly since then and my work is more geometric and a bit abstract. Having said that I do paint flowers sometimes.
Has chance ever played a role in your work?
What is your studio like? Do you work alone or share a space?
My studio is in a semi-converted double garage at home. I work alone. I find it hard to concentrate when other people are about, they are always doing interesting things that distract me.
Which jewellery artists do you admire and why?
Jessica Turrell is a truly experimental British enamel artist whose work I have always admired. Barbara Ryman is an Australian enamel artist, also with an experimental bent, whose work, love of learning and willingness to share knowledge is inspiring.
What are you planning to explore in future work?
I would love to make my own enamels. This would appeal to both the scientist and the enamellist in me.
Wednesday 23rd – 26th September – is our ONE WEEK ONLY studio bench clearance!
We don’t believe in sales (we value our artists and their work too highly for that) but we do believe in making way for fresh ideas!
So, for ONE WEEK ONLY, Bridget, Jenny and Mel are clearing their benches, emptying their drawers and holding a WORKSHOP CLEARANCE!
We’re getting rid of prototypes, older collections of work, one-off pieces, strands of beads, jewellery magazines, books and maybe a few jewellery tools, all at heavily reduced prices!
We also have a beautiful strand of diamonds available to be made up for someone looking for an extra special bespoke gift. Doors open 11am Wednesday – get in quick!
Fathers’ day is September 6 – pop in to the gallery or check out our range of artisan made gift ideas online.
We’re getting pretty excited about our upcoming wax carving workshop where you can learn to make your own silver ring!
In the workshop you will learn to carve your own ring design in wax and send it to be cast in sterling silver. Beginners are welcome and no previous experience required. Co-director Melanie Ihnen is the class tutor.
We’re getting pretty excited about our next exhibition, Suspended in Green, opening on 8th July.
If you want to have a sneak peek, we have a limited number of 10 catalogues available for sale in the gallery…although seeing jewels ‘in the real’ is always sooo much better!
Suspended in Green – $35, Suspended in Pink – $55.
Call us now at the gallery on +61 2 9698 7999 to reserve yours!
I recently finished an 18ct gold ‘weave’ bangle for a client last week. She wanted an extra special ‘heirloom’ piece of jewellery to give to her granddaughter on her 18th birthday. She brought in old jewellery that have been lying around in her jewellery box for decades. Broken and missing earrings, jewellery she had inherited but had never worn due to a difference in taste and jewellery that she was tired of. I melted down all these bits into small ingots, then rolled and drew down the metal to very thin wire to create a new heirloom for her 18 year old granddaughter. It was a great way to use up all that precious metal to create a new, loved piece of jewellery.
This is the sort of jewellery I just LOVE to make!
ps. The granddaughter loved it!
We’ve had some gorgeous men into the gallery in recent times. One romantic soul is having a ring made by us for a surprise proposal to his girlfriend, another came with his partner and made a special gift together and for another we melted down gold that he’d collected with his mother while gold panning as a child. We made this into a pair of custom designed earrings and a ring for his lucky mum. What a fabulous gesture of love symbolising so many treasured childhood memories…….anyway, these guys got me thinking.
I love having gifts for very special occasions as they embody special memories that last and can totally relate to the gesture these guys were making. When a Birthday or special occasion comes around, my kids always ask me what I’d like as a gift. They desperately want to buy me something. To be honest I do love the handmade cards they make for me and just about anything handmade I’ll appreciate because of the time that’s been invested in making but would be happy if the kids just gave me a huge hug and tidied up their rooms without me asking!
Okay, I totally get that my kids just want a way to show me their love and I do want to honour that. I think that’s the same for all of us. Some of us love to feel special by receiving a random bunch of flowers or special present, or feel loved when spending quality time at a workshop, learning something new with a special friend. For others, it might be coming home and finding that your partner has thoughtfully arranged to get your shoes repaired, for others it may be getting heaps and heaps of hugs or just being told how great you are!
Anyway I just have to share something cool which I’ve recently found out. It turns out there are 5 DIFFERENT LANGUAGES OF LOVE and when you know which one your loved one recognises, you’ll be able to REALLY show your love in a way that they’ll just GET IT!
It could be Words of Affirmation, Physical Affection, Acts of Service, Gift Giving or Quality Time.
Mine is Acts of Service….which may be why one of the things I enjoy so much here at the gallery is repairing broken jewellery for people or resurrecting heirloom jewels into contemporary new designs.
I’d love to hear what your love language is!
We are looking forward to receiving new work for the show ‘Lamina’ into the gallery. Kath Inglis is well known for her distinctive style and signature use of the material, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a material that is sourced by Inglis as a clear flexible sheet and is manipulated by colouring, cutting, carving and more recently, heat fusing layers.
Small shards of material are removed from the surface of the material through intricate hand cut incisions creating new surface textures for light and shadow to play. The hard cut edges and sharp glittering prisms of colour generated allude to qualities associated with glass. As Inglis says ʻTo touch this work dispels the illusion as the material is flexible, supple and as light as air.ʼ
The title of this show refers to the process of heat fusing layers of PVC together. This idea
started to form in 2012 while working on a collaborative public art project in the Clare
Valley with a Glass Blower and a Stone Mason. Inglis created five large sculptures from
Auburn Bluestone, a rock composed of many layers. The notion of layers came to the
forefront of my thinking while working on this project. One layer forms the bed for the next,
how it can influence or inform the subsequent structure of the rock.
This became a metaphor for the formation of towns over time. Generations of families,
businesses and industry – the tide of boom and bust. How one layer builds over the past…
sometimes a rich layer is pasted on and it is difficult to see the history beneath…
sometimes the bones of the past seem to protrude through a thin modern veil.
Inglis says “Light is a significant material in my work and I have attempted to ´lace with light´ by heat fusing two layers of intricately hand cut PVC together. The interaction of light between the layers glitters like super-charged cut crystal vase”.
Inglis continues to push the material by creating works that form a self portrait of
observations, concerns and issues.
A selection of works from the exhibition. Please contact the gallery for information on pricing and further details.
Written by Bridget Kennedy
Just back from my Artist Residency!
Over a year ago I received news that the application for my month long residency at Hill End had been successful. This bit of gold on the horizon promised to be a wonderful start to 2015.
The artist in residence program is managed by Bathurst Regional Gallery and provides an opportunity for creative development in the unique environment of Hill End and its surrounds. There are two residences available, Murrays Cottage, where Donald Friend used to live, and Haefligers Cottage, which once belonged to the artist Jean Bellete and her husband Paul Haefliger. I stayed at Haefligers, a small wattle and daub building with a detached studio. The contents of the house comprise mainly of the original furniture and belongings of the Haefligers.
The time spent there was memorable in many ways. What stands out, upon reflection, is solitude, space, silence and uninterrupted time – a rarity in busy Sydney, with two kids and two businesses on the go. The opportunity to spend whole days not talking to anyone, not thinking about anything but my own practice, or whatever I wanted to think about, was an incredible gift. There was no television, very little lighting at night and a heavenly silence.
With a population of only 75, when I first arrived I felt like an interloper, acutely aware I was the new stranger in town. I found myself going for a walk at dawn and dusk and spending much time in the studio exploring ideas that had been simmering in the back of my mind for a while.
My walks provided me with freshly picked berries, figs, apples, pears and tiny sweet plums. During my time there the remaining plums on the trees dried and shrivelled in the summer heat. At the time, this reminded me of how important it is to grab the moment and opportunities when they arise, to embrace them, as they too can shrivel and die unless given the chance for fruition.
It was quiet. The silence enabled me to hear the bees buzzing loudly in the clover when I took my early morning walks. Or maybe it was that my mind also had time to quieten and become more open to sounds that are normally drowned out by both internal and external noise.
The land has a rich and layered history beyond its natural rural evolution and the historical human intervention in the earth fascinated me. As I walked, I was acutely aware of the ground beneath me – how it had been heaved, smashed and churned over. There are pits and potholes of old mines scattered throughout what, in some areas, looks like a moonscape. Hill End is an historic gold mining town and at one time it was a bustling, crazy melee of thousands of people turning over every inch of soil looking for the gold that would change their lives. Some say there is more gold still in Hill End than was removed from it and on weekends the roads become (slightly more) busy with 4WD vehicles filled with optimistic tourists keen to fossick for gold just outside of the historic town. Previously plots of land were marked out, tightly held and disputed, but now those boundaries are left to decay. Fallen fences are a reminder of history and the passage of time. The remaining buildings have a weathered patina with the colourful and subtle palette that only time can bring.
In the last half century, many artists have made Hill End their home and in the quiet of the street, as I walked, there was an awareness of much happening behind closed doors.
The time spent there was simple and grounding. I was able to spend time with myself without the pressures of external schedules or the expectations of other people. It seemed to help me find my natural rhythm and I found I wanted to walk more, make more, eat less. I woke refreshed each morning. I had no urge to relax at the end of the day with a glass of wine, or reward myself with a hit of sugar. It just seemed unnecessary.
Whilst in my practice in Sydney I appreciate input and collaboration, my experience at Hill End led me to consider that there is a need for the space that solitude provides and where thoughts can meander and solidify.
I took to the residency a number of projects that I was already working on (I like to keep my hands busy) but I had no expectations nor pressing need to finish any. I worked on simple pleasures like crocheting a bag and a series of colour studies from recycled materials, using the rich and lush colours in the local environment from which to draw inspiration.
I felt drawn to the many broken rocks that form the landscape, and spent time walking and collecting these as well as materials like bags of kangaroo poo and coloured soils. I started another wax work of multiples and rediscovered a childhood love of clay. The projects were varied and the mental and physical space allowed me to spread out. The residency left me refreshed, full of new ideas that I will meander through with time, along with insights and developments to enhance my existing practice.
In the coming months, the olives and quinces in the garden will be ready for the next lucky artist residents.
Images from that time can be found on Instagram by following @bkandco hashtag #hillendiamusings.
Enjoying the colourful and joyful work by Alice Potter in Colour: Speaking in Plumes currently in the gallery. On until March 21.
Mel and I have changed our wordpress theme and made a few little changes. We hope you like it. Please feel free to give us some constructive input on what’s working for you, and what isn’t and we’ll do our best to work out how to change it! We’re uploading more to items to the SHOP page regularly so you can now buy selected work by our fabulous artists online.
Studio 20/17 intern Victoria Cleland, interviewed gallery artist Mark Vaarwerk and discussed his ongoing fascination with transforming the plastic detritus of our everyday lives into his beautiful signature jewellery pieces.
Mark Vaarwerk combines cast silver with crayons and polystyrene with pink gold. His process transmutes everyday waste products into individual jewels. Vaarwerk’s choice of materials are the undesirable and the overlooked; plastic bags, polystyrene food boxes, acrylic car and bicycle indicators, computer keys and cigarette filters, all of which Vaarwerk ‘expands’, ‘liquefies’, ‘dissolves’ and ‘extrudes’ to become brooches, bracelets, earrings and necklaces.
However mystical Mark’s method seems, transforming plastics is something he has studied and experimented with consistently in his jewellery making practice, aided by grants from the Australian Council for the Arts. He now runs a workshop titled Transforming Throwaway Plastics, which incorporates some of his techniques and encourages a shift in the perception of ‘waste’, its value and its uses.
Mark was kind enough to take some time out to answer some questions for Studio 20/17, focusing on the development of his unique material practice.
What appeals to you about throwaway plastics as a material source?
There are a few reasons why I enjoy working with throwaway plastics. I like the fact that it is free, and that I can put something to use that is considered rubbish, worthless. So it is a win win. I also enjoy working with materials that may be familiar to people – that even though it has been remade into jewellery I want there to still be a hint or suggestion of its original incarnation. This subtle connection with its earlier life can sometimes suggest a story – set in this everyday world – one that is continuing because of this re-use.
What has been your most interesting ‘material discovery’ since you have been working in this area? Any unexpected outcomes?
Many of my techniques are based on my own experiments with easily available materials. So in a sense my practice depends on these material discoveries and unexpected outcomes. Early work of mine focused on making necklaces from plastic bag string. This began with my learning to spin natural conventional fibers into string, and then I began to experiment with a wider range of easily available materials – and of these the best results came from plastic shopping bags. Similarly the work I am doing currently began with experimenting with different easily available plastics, I was not looking for a specific result – I was simply looking for ways to manipulate a small assortment of materials. From the samples that were the outcome of these experiments I chose the ones that showed the most potential for making new and interesting jewellery.
How do you collect your materials? Do you have industrial contacts or suppliers or is it more haphazard (for example, through friends or neighborhood collections)?
I’m more interested in materials that might be found in a domestic situation than an industrial one. At the moment the materials I am working with come from a bit of scavenging – I often find expanded polystyrene boxes sticking out of wheelie bins or in back laneways behind restaurants and cafés. I might pick scraps of plastic off residential streets – e.g. bits of broken car blinker, headlight and brake light covers. And yes, quite a bit of my materials also come from friends and family who collect it for me rather than throwing it away – wasted pens and printer ink cartridges, broken appliances, and still the occasional plastic shopping bag donated for making string.
You use unusual processes to create your works – expanding, liquefying, dissolving and so on. Can you talk us through one as an example?
Shrinking expanded polystyrene is the process I depend on most at the moment. I would collect a box or two of expanded polystyrene in advance, cut it down into flat pieces, clean it with water and soap and rinse it and let it dry. Say I was making a brooch I would choose the shape – usually a quite simple geometric shape like a circle, and trace it onto the sheet of polystyrene and then cut the shape out. This I usually do with a hot wire cutter. Then I might shrink the shape straight away by placing it in an airtight container with a small open container inside with a small amount of acetone in it. The acetone slowly evaporates and the vapor inside the container reacts with the piece of plastic and it gradually shrinks to maybe half or one third the original size. So the shape needs to be quite big at the start. Generally I colour the plastic in some way – this can be done before or after the shrinking stage for different effects. One coating I commonly apply is acrylic (e.g. broken brake light covers) dissolved in acetone, and once it becomes a syrupy liquid it can be painted onto the polystyrene like paint. Once the shrinking is complete and the container opened and the acetone removed, the shape will be slightly soft and gooey and then will harden into a plastic much denser and harder than the original expanded polystyrene. Then the metal findings can be fixed- e.g. the brooch pin and catch.
What is the biggest piece of polystyrene you have ‘expanded’?
I have occasionally shrunken expanded polystyrene boxes whole – which are sometimes around meter long at the beginning.
How significant has the support from the Australian Arts Council been in your practice?
Funding from Australia council has been quite significant to me and my practice – I have had three Australia council grants since I began my jewellery career. I find that grants are a godsend when you need to make a change of some kind, when you need to do something new to bring back your enthusiasm for making. The luxury of being free to be creative – to have the space or the time or the finances – is not always there but a grant can mean you are suddenly able to address these imbalances. When first starting out grants can be especially valuable as well.
What sort of response do you get from people participating in your Transforming Throwaway Plastics workshop? I imagine that might be very surprised and intrigued?
Yes quite surprised and intrigued. Fortunately I have had lots of positive feedback, but the responses are surprisingly varied. I am always surprised by how different people like to approach the same materials and processes in such different ways. Which is excellent because after a workshop there are always such a diversity of outcomes. But the one response that I always get from a lot of different participants (and which I find very encouraging) is that after the workshop the way they see these things they usually just throwaway is changed forever.
Before I realised your recent solo show was titled Alchemy, I thought of you as a ‘plastic alchemist’. Why do you think alchemy is a word often associated with your jewellery?
I think because I push myself to find ways to transform in unexpected ways materials that are often taken totally for granted.
How did it feel for your work to be included in Unexpected Pleasures, the huge contemporary jewellery exhibition curated by Dr. Susan Cohn, alongside works made of conventional, ‘precious’ materials?
By creating something wearable (and beautiful) out of everyday ‘rubbish’ it extends our understanding of ‘waste’. Has your practice changed your perception of waste? Do you think your work helps to develop an environmental or societal awareness? Is this important to you?
Yes to all of these! To put it simply, I guess I try to make work that I enjoy making and am proud to see being worn. I try to make in a way that is meaningful and rewarding to me. I am happy to see a variety of responses to my work, and expect the meanings read into my work will be different for different people. If people are curious about my work I will focus on talking to them about the materials I have used, where I might have found them and how I made them into what they see in front of them rather than the meanings behind the piece.
Do you think you will continue to work with these materials in the future? Is there more experimenting to be done or new materials to play with?
At the moment I feel like I will be sticking with expanded polystyrene for a little longer. There are so many ways I could experiment with even just this one main material and technique, so I am not planning any big changes for now. In the long run there will be need for change and variety, and there will always be new materials that I will be able to adopt, and with them new techniques. But in all cases there will definitely be lots more experimentation!
Finally, I found a link to Mark Vaarwerk Homework t-shirts and stickers online. They are really amazing! Are you planning anymore?
Thanks! They were something I did just for a little fun. I never sold very many because I am the worst at self-promotion! So, I doubt that I will ever get around to doing more…
Check out our website for some of Mark’s work and pop in to the gallery to see our full range.
Conveying Korean Metalcraft with Kenny Son.
Kenny Son is an emerging designer-maker who has recently completed a six-month mentorship under master metalsmith Sung Joon Cho in Korea, with funding provided by the Australia-Korea Foundation. Kenny participated in the program with the aim of introducing traditional Korean metalsmithing skills to the Australian jewellery community. After graduating from Sydney College of the Arts in 2010 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours) and completing a Masters in Design at the University of Technology in 2013, he has successfully launched his own object and accessories label, Studiokyss, based in Sydney.
Kenny was kind enough to answer some specific questions about his time in Korea as a context for understanding more about his upcoming exhibition at Studio 20/17, Conveying Korean Metalcraft. I interviewed him over Skype from Sydney while Kenny was close to completing his program in Seoul, South Korea.
Let’s start by telling me how you came to make jewellery and objects? I imagine it’s been quite a journey.
I started at Sydney College of the Arts, majoring in Jewellery and Objects. I started because I just wanted to make. I really liked working with my hands, building things, making things. I started it, I loved it, I still do.
I graduated from SCA and took a year off to try different things and see what I wanted to do – from photography to working at the Powerhouse Museum. I realised that I wanted to continue learning but at the same time I wanted to try something different. That’s why I went to UTS, you went to UTS right?
Yes, I studied there for one year before I started at SCA.
I did it the other way around. I finished up at SCA and wanted to try something different in terms of approach and execution. I went to UTS and did Object and Accessories for my Masters Program.
And when did you graduate?
I graduated in the middle of last year. I had this idea [the program] that I wanted to do pretty much as soon as I graduated. The beginning of that year I looked into the scholarship provided by the Australian Korea Foundation that looks at building the relationship between Korea and Australia in relation to culture. It’s an Australian government foundation, the primary focus is on the improvement of Australia, benefitting from things that relate to Korea.
It has a subject or a topic that the scholarship focuses on each year. Last year it had to do with sport, but I thought what I had planned was different, that I had a case. They thought it was really unique and different. And yeah! Here I am, nearly at the end of the six months, due to go back to Australia.
What does your program focus on?
Basically, my program focuses on learning traditional Korean metalcraft techniques, and going back to Australia with a range of workshops and an exhibition at Studio 20/17. My progress will be shown as well as my mentor Cho’s lifetime work, who has a lot of years behind him, a lot of work and a lot of experience. Korean metalcraft is something special, so it will be good showcasing that in Australia, to see what Australia is missing in terms of the area.
Did you design the program yourself?
Yeah, I designed everything, along with a friend of mine, who is a well-known jeweller here. I was speaking to him to see if he had any ideas and he said, ‘Hang on, I’ve got a person in mind, let me talk to him first’. He introduced me to Sung Cho. He was born in 1945 and he’s been a metal craftsman all his life. I got introduced to him and had lots of phone calls with him. He said that he thought this program would be worthwhile and he had something in mind as well and we sort came up with this program.
It was hard for me because, and this is only my assumption, but a lot of the other people applied for the scholarship through a company or a school, which makes it a lot easier in terms of insurance, accommodation, paperwork…
In terms of just general support?
Yeah, exactly, and because Cho’s coming to Australia I had to organise everything for him as well. So doing the actual program as well as all the behind the scenes stuff is really difficult. Things like finding accommodation for the short stay [in Seoul]… I’m just like, how did I do it? I think now that I know that I scaled everything a little bit too big for myself to handle in the beginning, but hey, it’s a challenge and it’s what I wanted.
What has the experience of the mentor/mentee relationship been like? That’s not something that a lot of people get to experience in Australia.
It wasn’t easy. There’s the age difference, he was born in in 1945, I was born in 1987, that’s already forty plus years difference. He’s lived in Korea for seventy odd years and I’ve been away from Korea for twenty odd years so there was that cultural difficulty to start with. But, time fixes that.
It was quite special. It’s different learning on a one to one basis. It’s more intimate, more direct. If you do something wrong or make mistakes, there’s someone to go ‘nup’, or ‘do it again’, and let you know what the right way is. It’s a really good way of mastering something. I started the program November 1st, and everyday, except some Saturdays and Sundays, I went from 9 in the morning to five o’clock, or five-thirty, everyday. It means you have a lifetime teacher than you can always go back to if you need. It was really good, really special.
It sound like you will to continue having a relationship with him when you’re back in Australia.
I think so.
Can you explain one of the techniques you’ve learnt from Sung Joon Cho?
One of the techniques I learnt was ipsa.Simply explained, it is creating a chisel that has a very sharp angle, probably less than 5 degrees, well, much less than that, created out of specialized steel. It’s the repetition of the hammering against the chisel onto a steel plate and you are creating hundreds of, how should I put it…marks or indentations, and then putting in really fine silver wire.
And you’re hammering it into the indentations that are made with the chisel. The wire has to be about .2 or .18 millimeter thickness. You are creating a series of shapes or images with the wire and hitting those into the indents.
Wow, that sounds amazing.
Yeah! It’s quite interesting.
What has your experience been of the Korean metalcraft and jewellery community?
I can’t compare it to anywhere else around the world, only Australia, so it’s a very personal comparison. My opinion is that the metalcraft scene in the Korean universities are a lot more disciplined. There’s a lot more hours put in. Students stay until say 11pm, sometimes 12am. It’s just hours and hours and hours – that’s what’s expected. In Korea, even after they turn 17, 18, 19, a lot of them still stay home or they have a dorm at school. They get support from the family in terms of school fees. In Western culture, once you are an adult, you move out, you make your own living. And it’s hard with work commitments to find that amount of time.
A lot of the teachers or the lecturers have studied either in Japan or Europe, like Germany, Munich so forth. So a lot of the influences are from there in terms of design and skills. And material wise, it’s quite different from Australia. In Australia, there’s a lot of, if I can say [laughs] kind of very strange materials that comes into the metalcraft scene, I shouldn’t even say the metalcraft scene because some of them don’t even end up using metal! That’s what’s so great about the Australian jewellery scene is the freedom to work with so many different materials and techniques. The atmosphere or environment also influences you. Australia has such a good natural [environment], it’s full of trees and beautiful plants and flowers and so forth. Here, it’s very hard to see wildlife because there are so many high-rise buildings, it’s so urbanised. That’s got a lot to do with the work that comes out.
You’re recently had a small exhibition in Seoul. What were you exhibiting and what was the response?
That exhibition wasn’t planned. It wasn’t part of the program at the beginning. It was held at Gallery Ah-won. Gallery Ah-won specialises in craft, mostly metalcraft. I’ve got to know the owners of Ah-won just through people I know in the industry in Seoul. They’ve been watching over what I’ve been doing. They also have an association with my mentor. They said why not show what you’re doing to the metalcraft scene in Korea as well. Nothing huge, nothing major. It was on for about a week. It was quite special. It was also an event to say goodbye to the people I got to know in Korea and a lot of people who have an association to the Korean metalcraft scene came, lecturers from different universities, current practicing artists and students as well.
The exhibition was progress work, trials and experiments. Nothing in the exhibition was finished. It was like a process diary, an archive, of what I’ve done and how I’ve learnt it, the process behind a certain technique. That’s how I displayed it. It was all laid out on three different tables. It was the tools as well, because I had to make all the tools. Cho’s known for that as well. Because he does traditional work, not a lot of tools are available for his work. In Australia the exhibition will be called Conveying Korean Metalcraft but here it was called The Process Diary / Conveying Korean Metalcraft because it was a process diary basically. It was just great, thanks to Gallery Ah-won.
How do you think your personal relationship to Korea has changed? Do you see yourself going back to live there?
At first it was hard. Some of the things I just didn’t understand, not like ‘what does that mean’. More like why, ‘why would they do that’? In Australia I’m very connected to the Korean community but actually being in the country, experiencing it as a 28 year old, is very different. Life as an adult in Korea is very different because of the history of how the country developed. Korea’s history has effected how people live today. There was a huge Japanese invasion in the early 1900’s and the Korean War in 1950. It’s an amazing country if you think about it. Everything was destroyed because of the war. It redeveloped, re-civilised. Now Korea’s a country with a number one IT area, so many huge companies; Samsung, Hyundai, LG. If you think of that you just go, ‘oh’, you understand why some of the people are really stressed, why some things are different. And that’s why a lot of people put in a lot of hours, like I said before, even the students, tend to put in lots and lots of hours. Because without that you can’t come than far in 56 years.
What do you hope to bring back to Australia?
I hope to bring back more than what I initially did! It ranges from knowledge, skills and techniques to experience and even including emotions and stuff from over the six months. This program was highly set on skills, techniques and knowledge that are very rare in the Australian metalcraft scene, which could benefit the people in the industry.
Conveying Korean Metalcraft at contemporary jewellery design gallery, Studio 20/17, will show both your and your mentor’s work?
Well, what I’ll be showing is the progress rather than finished work and what Cho will be showing is his lifetime’s work.
Ok, so that’s pretty major!
Yeah, yeah! Not 100% [of it] because he’s sold a lot of stuff but what he’s got and what he’s managed to get, he will be showing. Everything he makes by hand, but it’s finished to perfection. A lot of people go, ‘oh is that cast?’ or ‘is that pressed?’ but he hand cuts, hand carves and hand raises everything. You just go ‘woah!’
How will the your work and Cho’s work fit alongside each other?
It will make a lot more sense, seeing my process and his finished work. I think it will be better that way.
You are hoping to introduce Korean techniques to Australia – how are you hoping to achieve this?
Through the exhibition firstly, and I’m set to have a range of workshops. Firstly at the Jam Factory in Adelaide, Perth JMGA and finishing off the main workshop at SCA which is co-funded by the Korean Cultural Centre in Sydney.
I’m doing the workshop in Sydney by the way, and I’m very excited! Will you and Cho be doing the workshop together?
Cho will be leading the workshops but I think it makes sense that I work as an assistant and as a translator.
How will your time in Korea benefit your future work? Do you think what you’ve learnt in these six months will become part of your work?
I think so, definitely, yeah. I think six months, it could be a very short time but at the same time it’s a long time to be apart from your actual life and submerging yourself into a complete program. Everything’s set, everything’s planned, there’s freedom but you know what you’re going to be doing for the next five, six months. It will be a huge part of my future and my work. Not everything [I’ve learnt], I must say, because some things are really traditional and some things…it doesn’t fit into..
Your personal aesthetic?
Yeah exactly, my personal interests. There will be huge influences or even changes towards what I do, and how I work, and the techniques I’ll be using as well.
Did you have opportunities to travel outside Seoul during the program?
I got to travel a little bit because I had some time during weekends, to see Korea and get to know Korea – going to Kunsan, it’s the southern coast of Korea. And also Jeju Island, it’s also off the South of Korea. Time and time again, it is the most wonderful place, a really amazing place within this world.
I’ve met so many people. Through the program I’ve become friends with a lot of good people, I’ve made a lot of connections and friends. Some of them will be great friends after I leave this country and because a lot of them are in the metalcraft scene, I’m sure we’ll be contacting each other if we need help with anything, on a personal level, and workwise as well. That’s quite special.
Lots of good food as well. I have a lot of Korean food back home as well but still it’s different. Definitely, food, lots of…I don’t know if I should say this but lots of drinking as well! Drinking culture here is huge.
So you’ve had fun as well as working really, really hard?
I guess so! Towards the end it was more working, working but yeah.
How are you feeling now you are at the end of your program?
I’m quite excited, a little bit scared, but quite excited.
Thank you Kenny!
Conveying Korean Metalcraft will show at Studio 20/17 from the 14 to 28 June. Join the artist for drinks at the opening on Saturday 14June 4-6pm.
2 Danks Street Award for Contemporary Art Criticism
The 2 Danks Street Award for Contemporary Art Criticism has been established by the permanent galleries of 2 Danks Street Waterloo to foster new writing on, and extend discussion about, the visual arts. This award is initially being given for writing about exhibitions at galleries in the 2 Danks Street complex. In subsequent years, the intention is to extend the award to exhibitions in other Sydney based commercial or private contemporary art galleries.
We turned 5 in early February and Melanie and I have been so busy, that we totally missed it (but we’ll still happily accept birthday presents)! As we look forward to yet another fabulous exhibition opening in the gallery today, I thought it was time to take a few minutes and reflect on the last five years and where we’ve come from. We’re usually caught up in doing our best to make the gallery and our client’s experience (both artists and retail customers) better, that we sometimes forget how much we’ve achieved.
Melanie and I started in a rather small space which had a split personality between retail and exhibition space, showcasing just our own work, where we both had to remain on strict diets to enable us to have enough room to slide past each other into the back of the workshop….but now, we
– have doubled in size and are the only gallery n NSW specialising exclusively in contemporary jewellery
– have held more than 50 exhibitions in the gallery, hosted various artist talks, and held creative workshops
– have learnt something new every day on how to run a small business
– have built an international reputation
– had a baby (well, Melanie has)!
– expanded the retail aspect of the studio to now represent over 50 Australian and international artists
– and have managed to survive the GFC (please, we don’t want to hear that word again) and are looking forward to a great year ahead.
We’ve been blessed to have the wonderful support of many contemporary jewellery artists and collectors, and the mentorship of some very special people (you know who you are) over the last 5 years. Without this support we just wouldn’t be here.
We’re very excited about 2013 and privileged to be exhibiting artists of the calibre of Melinda Young, Sean O’Connell and Julie Blyfield this year….just to name a few! We installed a brand new internally lit cabinet in the retail section of the gallery towards the end of last year and are looking at launching a studio wedding range later this year.
We love walking down the corridor of 2Danks in the morning and every day we feel privileged to open the doors of our gallery and continue our role in supporting and increasing the profile of contemporary jewellery.
Hip, hip hooray!
We’re often asked by students and emerging jewellers for hints on how to establish a relationship with a gallery – and keep it! So here’s a few little snippets of info that we’ve found useful for ourselves as both practitioners, and gallery directors. Running a contemporary jewellery gallery is challenging and not particularly financially rewarding..and we’re continually making mistakes and learning….but we all know that none of us are in the arts for the dollars….and if we wanted to make a half decent living, we’d be selling Pandora beads and not beautiful, challenging, exciting Contemporary Jewellery.
While we certainly wouldn’t like to think that we’re in the same category as a certain Sydney chef, there have certainly been a few times when Melanie and I have also felt like having a bit of a rant….so I thought it was time to put pen to paper…..bk and Mel
1. Deliver work on time for exhibitions. While it may be cool to be fashionably late to a party, this is definitely not the case for your work at an exhibition. It’s stating the obvious but a lot of time and effort goes into putting on a show, and when there’s been deadlines given, and plenty of leeway, the excuse, of ‘sorry, I’ve been busy” is one sure way never to be invited to participate again….hey, we’re ALL busy! It’s disrespectful to the other artists and the gallery and effects the integrity of the exhibition.
2. Make life easier for the gallery that represents you, not harder – by providing consignment notes at the same time that you provide us with your work. Galleries have to spend a large amount of time on administration of work. The more artists, the more work. If we have to do YOUR paperwork as well as OURS, it just doesn’t work. If we have to chase you up on it, it just doesn’t work. Make sure each item in the consignment clearly identifies which piece it relates to. Your work cannot be shown to clients unless we know how much to sell it for and details of materials, processes etc. By providing a consignment note with your work, you show us that you’re not only a fabulous artist but that you’re also professional.
3. Invest in good quality/professional images of your work. Galleries are always needing images for publicity as well as for use on websites, blogs and invitations. It’s in your best interest to supply quality images (with correct photographer credits and image details) as your name will be beside the image promoting not only the gallery but you the artist as well. While we do make every effort to photograph work, fantastic images supplied by artists will take priority as they’ve made our job of promoting them so much easier! Please, no black, blue and textured backgrounds! Poor images of your works aren’t worth sending. Simple white is the general rule when dealing with galleries, publicists and magazines. If your photography skills aren’t crash hot, invest in some professional shots. A wise friend once told me that you can get years of value and mileage from just one or two great shots.
4. OWN your work – by this I mean take pride in your work out there in the universe, repair any defects in your work free of charge and as a priority. We’re not talking the usual wear and tear here, but rather situations like ‘the brooch finding doesn’t work – it keeps falling off’, or ‘it just fell apart – I only wore it a few times’. While none of us like to be out of pocket for our precious time and materials, the reality is, if we’ve made something poorly – this is the consequence. Remember, the gallery’s reputation has been effected by selling the item to a valuable client, the client’s time has been effected by having to deal with the return of the piece, and there have been financial outlays by the gallery – the time spent placating a client, the correspondence entered into with the artist, the costs of return postage. We expect artists to guarantee their work for an absolute minimum of 6 months, although many of our artists offer a lifetime guarantee on any defects.
5. Beading/threading/stringing – call it what you want – just make sure its done right and tight. Yes, after time some neckpieces may need a retread, we tell our clients this, just like a pearl necklace, there may be a maintenance cost sometime in the future. However, it’s important to have the work threaded properly in the first place. Any area where thread will rub against metal will quickly effect the integrity of the piece – the metal will wear away the thread very quickly. So, crimping a bit of silk beading thread together at the end of a finding just doesn’t cut it. Try using gimp to protect any areas where metal may rub against thread. Glue – this can discolour and look ugly. Knotting – ensure that the piece is knotted tightly and back down the length of the neckpiece. Neckpieces can also stretch, another reason to ensure the threading has been done tightly in the first place. We recommend outsourcing your stringing to companies that specialise in this procedure.
If you’re using coated steel wires and nylon threads invest in slightly better quality versions rather than fishing line and ones purchased from the local hardware shop. Beadalon beading products sold through A&E metal merchants or on the Beadalon website have great coated wires and threads, these wires last longer, and depending on the version you buy, have great flexibility, stopping them from kinking and snapping easily.
6. Earring wires – Make them straight and strong! It’s important to make sure your earring wires are straight and work hardened. Burnish any wires after they have been soldered otherwise they can bend and flatten, just in the process of being delivered to the gallery – we are totally serious – it’s amazing what can happen!! Burnishing takes a few minutes and ensures the wear ability and integrity of your work.
7. Turn up to exhibition openings – particularly if you’re in the exhibition and live in the same city! It continually surprises us when artists don’t turn up to their own shows. It’s important to support your gallery and your fellow artists by turning up to openings where possible. It also enables you to meet other artists and potential clients. Okay, I have to fess up here – I am guilty of this one. I once submitted a work to an award exhibition and was so embarrassed about the work, that I couldn’t face turning up. I ended up winning in the emerging category and wasn’t there to collect my prize! I was new to the CJ world, shy and scared of people – so I totally get it – BUT – it’s REALLY important!
8. If you want to be known, get known – this one’s for all those students and emerging CJ artists out there. To stand out from the crowd, regularly attend openings and visit galleries, introduce yourself, offer to help out as an intern, be enthusiastic!
9. Cleanliness is next to Godliness – yes, washing your hands regularly WILL keep those nasty cold bugs away, and delivering your work clean and tarnish free will make all the difference!
10. And lastly – packaging (only because the OCD side of me needed to make this 10 hints) – we love receiving parcels! One of the best, best, best things about running a gallery, is that we get to pretend it’s Christmas all the time. However, like kids, if it takes a degree and various surgical instruments to either unpack or repack the box, the shine quickly wears off. Make sure work is well padded, but don’t over do it. There’s no need to use a roll of sticky tape and 3 layers of paper and 4 sheets of bubble wrap for a single pair of earrings. Also don’t pack everything in like an extremely well thought out jigsaw, with no room to move. While at the time it might seem brilliantly clever it just makes us feel like frustrated 3 year olds when we can’t fit that last piece of jewellery back in, and spend half an hour trying to work it out….and failing…..and then we need to recover with coffee and cake!
This Saturday 7th July at 3.30pm, Melbourne Artist Mel Miller, will be talking about her current Solo exhibition ‘Local Colour. It’s sure to be really great!! We’re excited!
Gaffa have perfectly timed another Melbourne artist talk at 2pm, just before Mel’s talk. Nicole Polentas and Christopher Earl will be presenting alongside their Exhibition PSYCHOMANTEUM.
Hope to see you all on Saturday!
psssst….extra bonus! – a special student discount is available for Mel’s workshop (check out some of her great work currently at Studio 20/17) – contact Karin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to participate in this special offer….tell her studio 2017 sent you….enjoy – bk.
WITH MELINDA YOUNG
This workshop will explore and challenge approaches to making, focusing on the theme ‘Unnatural Jewellery’. Participants will be encouraged to experiment with and deconstruct a variety of found materials whilst developing and working to a theme.
This workshop aims to encourage participants to:
- Challenge their ‘natural’ and collaborative approaches to making.
- Experience new approaches to working with experimental materials and colours.
- Consider and develop a conceptual approach to materials to guide the making process.
- Develop a collection of experimental pieces of jewellery using deconstructed materials and new techniques, which are then developed into a small body of finished work.
Level: All Levels. This workshop is suitable for beginners through to experienced artists.
Estimated materials cost $35 – $100
PRINTING ON CLAY: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
WITH CLARISSA REGAN
Do you have a photograph you would like to transfer onto a ceramic artwork? Would you like to learn how to make your own Japanese-style tissue paper transfer? This workshop is a great opportunity to learn new image-making techniques designed for artists working with clay.
During this hands-on workshop participants will learn how to make their own silk-screens, transfer photographs and drawings onto raw clay and bisque ware, make laser toner decals, Japanese tissue paper and photocopier transfers, and mix their own inexpensive printing inks.
All the techniques demonstrated in this workshop are easily transferrable to participants’ own studio or home. During the workshop, participants will hand build simple forms which will be bisque fired during the course.
Level: All levels. This course is suitable for beginners to more experienced ceramic artists wishing to extend their range. Estimated materials cost: $150
We’d love to congratulate one of our gallery artists Melissa Cameron.
Melissa was recently awarded the top silversmithing prize at the Buda Contemporary Silver and Metalwork Exhibition. Melissa received the Arts Centre Prize including acquisition of the work by the Arts Centre in Melbourne.
The Buda Silver exhibition continues in Castlemaine until the 19th of June, after which her work will be touring with a selection of the works including the other prizewinners, to the Arts Centre. – Mel
Earlier in the year I was fortunate to participate in an Artist Residency at Bundanon. The landscape there is sublime and the weather was cool and crisp. Here ‘s a few images of work in progress from the series – petroleum polymer series 1 (moss)……to be exhibited in 2011 in an exhibition titled Jewels from a distant future (past). – bk