Thursday, 25 June 2015

buon giorno Firenze

In a couple of days I will be heading off to Florence, Italy to participate in a four week summer course to learn traditional jewellery techniques specific to Tuscany.

I entered a design competition last year and I was awarded a scholarship to attend Academia Riacci. Academia Riacci is a private art school which specialises in, amongst other things, Jewellery. They also have a leather working program which focuses in shoes and bags (how much fun), interior and graphic design, and all the usual programs found in an art school including sculpture and painting.

I will be learning Incisione (Florence engraving) which is delicate metal chasing and carving using a specific engraving tool. I will also be learning Florence Openwork - exciting! 

Example of Incisione
Image courtesy of Aceademia Riaci

Example of openwork
Image courtesy of Stefano Oro

I am looking forward to learning these new skills in such a fabulous location. We have an interpreter, and class is four days a week. Its going to be challenging to get to class by 9am whilst I am holidays, although I am sure the excitement and lure of adventure will prompt me to get to class on time. My accommodation is about a 25 min walk to school, and I am hoping to find some great coffee shops along the walk that will help to wake me up with an expresso and a delicious Italian pastry.

One day a week is set aside for 'Art visits' which I am guessing will be viewing some of the amazing art on display in Florence. I am hoping this includes a visit to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the oldest museums in the world with an amazing collection of great Italian artists, including my favourite, Botticelli, who is famous for The Birth of Venus.

The Birth of Venus by Botticelli
I am planning to travel lightly and will be taking a super small suitcase. As you can see it is just big enough to fit a cat, who was a great help by assisting me what to pack. The case used to be the right size for carry on luggage (back in my London days), but I think they've shrunk those sizes recently.

Add caption

The Venice Biennale is also on whilst I am there and I am looking forward to returning to such a beautiful city. Squee! 

Ciao Bella

Thursday, 18 June 2015

sPIN exhibition at ANCA

sPIN is ANCA Gallery's fifth annual exhibition of miniature wearable artworks Australian artists.

Some of my fence brooches have been selected to be displayed in the exhibition. They continue to explore surface (lichen markings through enamel), construction (using beads to explore mesh techniques), and repair (textile techniques to mend broken fences). 

Fence Study #3
Copper, sterling silver, enamel
8 x 5 x 1 cm

Fence Study #5
Sterling Silver, glass beads
5 x 7 x .5 cm

Fence Study #2
Sterling silver
8 x 5 x 1 cm

The exhibition's OPENING EVENT will be from 6pm-8pm Wednesday 24 June and the show will run until Sunday 5 July 2015. 

ANCA Gallery: 1 Rosevear Place Dickson ACT 
Gallery hours 12-5pm Wednesday to Sunday

Thursday, 4 June 2015

IOTA Pop-Up Gallery

Mireille Bourgeois is the curator and owner of IOTA Gallery, an invigorator of unconventional artistic and social practices, and a producer of forward thinking contemporary art discourse. 

I was approached to be part of the IOTA:Gallery's Pop Up show that is being held as part of the Credit Union Atlantic's Small Business Saturday.

Along with 13 other artists who working various disciplines such as printmaking, performance, painting, text-based, jewellery and sculpture, our work will be available for viewing on Saturday, 6 June, at Credit Union Atlantic, 5670 Spring Garden Road, Halifax. 

The exhibition will continue online and artwork will continue to be available for purchase until 20 June 2015.

Here's a sneak peek of some of the works that I created for the show: 

Fence Study # 1 Brooch
Sterling silver
8 x 5 x 1 cm

Fence Study #2 Brooch
Sterling silver, porcelain, decal
8 x 5 x 1 cm

Fence Study #4 Brooch
Wood, sterling silver
8 x 5 x 1 cm

For the complete online exhibition visit IOTA:Gallery's website.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

SNAG Boston

I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 44th annual SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference, Looking Back, Forging Forward, held in Boston from 20 - 23 May.

Hanging out with Ruudt

The highlight of the conference was listening to Ruudt Peters keynote presentation 2mm Squared. Ruudt's practice continually challenges peoples perceptions of conventional jewellery and he alternates between jewellery and sculpture.

It was interesting to hear him talk about jewellery as craft, and how many makers get lost in the material and forget about the concept behind the work. He believes that this is the downfall of craft, which lacks the critical thinking and theories of art.

working sketch of an idea in process

It was fascinating to see his process from sketches which make their way to a family (series) of pieces. Ruudt is always challenging himself to create new pieces by placing himself in unfamiliar environments (such as a trip to China) and working with materials he doesn't like until you learn to love them. 

He was spoke about giving space to the unconscious and he often will create 'blind drawings' to start his creative process. He will intensely research and draw relating to a particular project, and then burn them all to allow the subconscious to create. The results are always fresh and spectacular. 

One of the finished pieces
 The conference also offered professional development workshops and I had the opportunity to meet with UK artist Helen Carnac, and discuss my work. Helen provided many great insights, and suggested a number of artists to research, that would assist to progress my work. This was incredibly exciting as she approaches jewellery making with a UK perspective, which is completely different to that of North America. Interestingly, she suggested that I work with metal to make it look more fluid like textiles - which relates back to my BVA in textiles. I look forward to trying out some of these ideas in the studio.

Two artists Helen suggested I research are:

June Schwarcz - who creates soft textile looking objects using metal and enamel
Martin Puryear - a sculpture who often incorporates textile techniques to construct large objects

The Heidi Lowe gallery held a pop up exhibition in one of the hotel rooms, which was welcomed with great excitement by the conference participants. Lots of great earrings were on display and I couldn't help but buy a pair - as a souvenir of course! 

I loved the simplicity of this design by Laura Hutchcraft

There were many satellite exhibitions (and way too many to see) which also provided the opportunity to explore Boston by foot.

Boston Streets

One of the exhibition highlights was held at the Laconia Gallery. The Homework Project, invited eight metalsmith, who have a studio in their homes to create a piece per month using their homes and the space within as a source of inspiration. The results were amazing.

dryer 'felt' or 'fluff'

Old hair curlers

Bracelts made from an old sewer pipe. Brilliant!

Looking at lines in the walls 

Back at the conference the vendor room was full of rocks, minerals and gems to admire, and purchase!  There were so many to choose from it was almost overwhelming.

A selection of gems I couldn't resist buying.
When the conference finished we continued our love of gems and minerals and visited the Natural History Museum at Harvard University.
Grounds at Harvard University, Cambridge

Fabulous displays of minerals
The collection was inspirational.

Thursday, 16 April 2015


Queen Anne's Lace is an introduced flower from Britain that can be found growing abundently in Australia and Canada. As an introduced species I see this plant as a symbol of travel with the ability to adapt to its environment. Dried flower heads have been dipped in a porcelain slip and fired, leaving behind lace like structures. Although delicate in appearance, the plant has adapted to both the cold conditions of Canada and the arid conditions of Australia.

'Diaspora' has been selected to be exhibited in BeLonging, an exhibition curated by TACA (The Australian Ceramic Association) as part of the Australian Ceramics Triennale held in Canberra in 2015. Selected artists created commentaries inspired by place.

The exhibition will run from 27 June to 11 July 2015, at the ANU School of Art Foyer Gallery, 2 Childers St, Acton, ACT 2601. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Pioneer Landscapes on exhibition at Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre

Pioneer Landscapes is a selection of works created in response to my Artist in Residence at Hill End, NSW in 2013. 

Lichen Bells 2014
Silk, fine silver, enamel
Image: Art Atelier

Steel String Wood Necklace 2014
Materials: steel, cotton, wood
Image: Art Atelier

The impact on the landscape by the pioneers was evident by the scarred earth, colonial architecture and forest re-growth. I was fascinated by the bush fences in various states of disrepair and the decorative picket fences of the townships which clearly delineated ownership of space by the early colonial settlers. Despite the impact on the Australian bush by the pioneers, the resilient nature of lichen covered all surfaces. The texture and colour of it captivated me and I noticed that it grew on trees, rocks, fences and even on the sealed roads. 

I commenced a new body of work in 2014 which explores the materials and construction methods used to create these fences whilst incorporating ideas of regrowth and regeneration through the symbolism of lichen. 

Pioneer Landscapes at Craft ACT : Craft + Design Centre
Image courtesy of the Gallery

Pioneer Landscapes at Craft ACT : Craft + Design Centre
Image courtesy of the Gallery

Pioneer Landscapes at Craft ACT : Craft + Design Centre
Image courtesy of the Gallery

The experience at Hill End had a lasting impact on me and it continues to inform my work  Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College for Art and Design) in Halifax, Canada.

For more images of the exhibition please visit my Facebook page

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Patchwork Fence (working title)

One of the things that I love about farm fences are the ingenious methods that they are fixed and repaired. Generally using little more than a bit of wire, they are stitched and patched to mend the holes.

Inspired by these methods I created a patchwork fence 'necklace' using fine and sterling silver.

Photography by Nasia Vayianou  

The fences were constructed exploring different methods such as fusing (where the silver melts together to join rather than the use of solder to 'glue' it together), milling the silver so that it is almost as thin as aluminium foil, piercing and weaving. 

The milled silver has a lightly textured surface.

When worn on the body it has a certain 'armour' like quality, and it reminds me a little of the notorious bushranger, Ned Kelly's suit of armour. 

Image from National Museum of Australia


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