Thursday, 25 December 2014

Fence Studies: country town

My studies of gates and fences continues, this time focusing on the wrought iron gates found in a country towns across rural New South Wales.

Wrought iron is no longer produced on a commercial scale. They retain that description because in the past they were wrought (worked) by hand.

The word "wrought" is an archaic past participle of the verb "to work," and so "wrought iron" literally means "worked iron" as manufactured by a blacksmith.

Cast iron methods have been used since ancient times in China, but was not introduced to Western Europe until the fifteenth century. 

Wrought iron reached its peak in the 18th century however cast iron and cheaper steel caused a gradual decline in the manufacture of wrought iron. 

Mild steel is now the main material used for 'wrought iron' gates, mainly because true wrought iron is limited in its availability and generally the wrought iron available today is from reclaimed materials such as old bridges and anchor chains dredged from harbours.

One of the towns where I did photographic studies also has a number of lane ways, which I can only assume were for the removal of waste from outhouses. Strolling along these lanes I found a number of interesting ways of fencing boundaries.

It also provided glimpses into backyards.... something Im always interested to see. There was also an abundance of fruit trees laden under fruit - particularly apricots. I have never seen such big large fruit in my life! 

This last image looks like an original wrought iron fence, it was found near a railway station. I particularly liked the way it was held together with metal pins. 

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Rural Fence Studies

Following on from my residency at Hill End in 2013 I continue to have a fascination with fences. I was interested in the decorative picket fences, many of which in the town were particularly old and were made using shapes and designs that are no longer in use. I photographed and shared some of them with you in a previous blog post


Since then, the structure of the fence has been appearing in my artworks. First as a ring design, then a brooch and finally a necklace

Over Christmas I had the opportunity to go home to Australia and one of the first things I did was to photograph the Australian landscape and admire the rural and rustic fences.

I particularly enjoy the details of how the wire is attached to the posts and the weathering that occurs from being exposed to the harsh Australian elements. 

These images are going to be the starting point for my MFA work for this semester. The theme is The Body as Landscape and I am looking to create jewellery that interacts with the body based on the idea of fences and gates. 

I love the golden tones of the setting sun against the tall grasses in the paddock. Interestingly this image serendipitously (accidentally) sums up my current interests: communication (telegraph pole and letter box), remote rural landscapes and fences. 

Thursday, 11 December 2014

End of Semester Summary

My first semester in the MFA program for studio was with Professor Gary Markle. Gary is the Head of the Fashion studio at NSCAD and he has extensive experience working in New York in fashion, film and sculpture. He was the ideal professor to work with given my interdisciplinary nature and desire to explore ideas across a range of materials.

Lichen was the launching point for a series of investigations and I represented shapes found within the lichen using paper, the lids of tins and enamel (a whole blog post was written about the enamel necklace here). The pieces also continue to reference my interest in pioneers and the isolation they experienced.

Continuing to explore my interest in women's domestic objects I made some thimbles and experimented combining porcelain with crochet and gold lustre.

Continuing to play with domestic kitchenware I was interested to see what happened when you filled the void with rocks, thinking about sense of place and your ties or attachments to a geographic location. 

Living in Canada enables me to objectively look at my Australian history and heritage. I am interested in how our ties to the past inform our present and I am exploring this through the imagery of cameos, chain and branches.

This final piece is still in the middle of being created. Originally a porcelain tea cup, it has been broken and pieced back together. All attached by a silver chain. Here I am interested in the notions of sentimentality and how we place such importance on fragile objects. 

All these ideas seem quite disparate at the moment although I am hoping to distill their essence in my next semester next year. Its going to be quite the journey! 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Limited production pieces

Our last assignment for Jewellery 2 was to create a limited production line of jewellery. 

The intention for this project is to give us an idea of what it is like to create production pieces, starting with  designing a prototype - and then once the design had been tweaked - we then had to make 9 versions of the design.

Prototype of my pendant design
One of the great things about our Professor, Pam Ritchie, is that she encourages us to use materials not always associated with jewellery. So, inspired by my current love of lichen, I designed a pendant that incorporated found wood and copper discs that were covered with a green patina.

I was a little apprehensive at having to make 9 identical pieces, however once I got into the swing of things, I realised that there was a method to making on a larger scale. And I really enjoyed it.

Along with developing the prototype I also had to undertake some experiments on how to seal in the green patina so that it didn't rub off on the wearer. I started off with a clear matt enamel spray on the domes, but I felt that they needed to be shiny so I then experimented with a clear enamel.

I was having so much fun with the design that I also created matching earrings.

Here are the pendants all lined up waiting to be attached to handmade copper chain. They turned into an army of stick insects!

I totally forgot to take a picture of the pendant attached to the chain before I handed them in, so Ill have to share that with you in the new year when I get the marked pieces back. 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Snakes and Ladders : Enamel and Linen necklace

For our final assessment in Enamelling we had to create something that was inspired by 'games'. The word could be loosely interpreted and I chose the Snakes and Ladders board game I remembered fondly from childhood.

Snakes and Ladders prototype 1

To begin with, I made two different prototypes, experimenting with combining metal and woven linen thread. The first prototype was difficult to wear as the metal lengths stuck into the skin.

Snakes and Ladders Prototype 2

Redesigning my idea, I changed the linen thread to be more representative of a snake that weaves its way through the ladder. The design also changed the way it was worn, and the metal lengths no longer stuck into the wearer.

Cutting holes in the sterling silver lengths 

The next step was to make the design in sterling silver. After forging lengths of wire, I then cut holes into the flattened surface.

Plique a jour enamelled sterling silver

Using Plique a Jour methods (French for letting in daylight) I applied transparent enamel onto the cutout surface of the sterling silver.

Detail of the final Snakes and Ladders piece

Using a finer width of white linen, I wove the Plique a Jour lengths into place.

But before doing so, I had to thread the linen through sterling silver metal tube, which was then forged prior to threading the linen on the loom.

And this is the final result. 

Thursday, 20 November 2014

MFA exhibition: Progress in Work in Progress

Earlier this week, on a rainy Monday evening, was the opening for the MFA exhibition Progress in Work in Progress at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax. 

I chose to display a work that I had created earlier in the year Bush Telegraph. Made from a collection of vintage objects, manipulated domestic ware and machine embroidery embedded in resin, Bush Telegraph refers to my current interest in pioneering history and domestic spaces. I am particularly interested in exploring how many families were isolated, both in the sense of place (as both Canada and Australia were so far away from the mother country, England) and space as some families resided many miles from their nearest neighbour or town.

Bush Telegraph 2014

Thinking about this distance made me think about communication and how this occurred between countries. Often it would take 6 months for a letter to travel from one recipient and country to the other - and how it is this communication informs my work now. I am reading letters written in the 1800s by Elizabeth Moodie, British Canadian authoress, who wrote home to her mother in England about the trials and tribulations of living in a new land. 

Bush Telegraph 2014

The exhibition contains the work of the 17 current MFA students with works that range from a short documentary by Connie Littlefield, dying with and cataloguing local plants by Anna Haywood Jones to a performance piece about looking for a short term friend by Allyse Bowd. 
Bush Telegraph
photograph by Evan Rensch

Infront of my work at the opening

Gallery view of exhibition by Evan Rensch

For more information and pictures from the opening please visit the MFA blog


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