Tag Archives: Melbourne

Ruth Hadlow textile journey on 18 November

Unpacking my Library: Textile tales from West Timor

an illustrated lecture about textiles & culture in West Timor
by artist, writer & educator Dr Ruth Hadlow

The University of Melbourne
Harold White Theatre

757 Swanston St (near Gratton Street) – Rm:224 – Flr:2 (1st Floor) Enter via the external stairs next to the School of Graduate Studies or up the internal stairs at the back of the foyer. Theatre is on the right.
Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning
Monday 18 November, 6.00pm

Dr Ruth Hadlow went to West Timor, Indonesia, in 1999 to study innovations in the traditions of hand-woven textiles. She discovered an extraordinary wealth and variety of cloth, all woven on back-strap looms. In 2001 Ruth moved to Kupang, and has lived there for the last 11 years, doing research on textiles and bringing up a family with her Timorese husband Willy Kadati.

With a mixture of narrative storytelling and information Ruth will explore the beautiful textiles and fascinating culture of West Timor. The talk will be accompanied by a sale of hand-woven West Timorese textiles.  (NB. cash sales only)

Gold coin donation in support of YTP Training Young Weavers Program in West Timor
Presented by World Craft Council Asia Pacific Region

Suse Scholem–jewellery in other words

Mirror from Attempts at Describing Adornment

Mirror from Attempts at Describing Adornment

Relational jewellery has taken a new step forward.

Suse Scholem is at the radical edge of the Melbourne contemporary jewellery scene. A graduate of Monash University, she is steeped in feminist and psychoanalytic theories.

Her previous show at Handheld Gallery in 2011 was Abject Object. It explored a feminist aesthetics by including body remnants as jewellery. While striking, it was framed in relatively conventional terms as art jewellery, reducible to the intentions of its maker.

The recent show at Footscray’s Trocadero Gallery focused instead on the interpersonal dimension. attempts at describing adornment was aesthetically quite minimal. It consisted of a variety of jewellery pieces, each featuring a series of words on porcelain. The words were garnered from interviews Scholem conducted with people about the way they present to the world. By filling out a questionnaire, contributing your own thoughts to the mix, you could then select your own piece from a box of ‘seconds’. The one I chose said:

I like black. It makes me feel a bit like a blank canvas.

Being a creature of Melbourne, I felt I could sympathise with this statement. But at the same time, I liked that it came from someone else. I find that I enjoy wearing it especially when I go out in brown. This accentuates that the words belong to someone else. After all, my brown is defined against the Melbourne black.

Essentially, what I’m wearing is a fashion statement. And there’s something liberating about reducing fashion to a literal statement.

Another touch I really like in Scholem’s exhibition was the mirror. It is common in jewellery exhibitions to have a mirror where you can try out the look of a piece on yourself. Scholem’s mirror follows the conventional oval outline, but only contains mirror shards pointing outwards, leaving the inside empty.

There were still a few elements that I thought could be further developed. The words were unfired, which means they are rubbed off with wear. While I can understand the conceptual rationale for this, I felt that it detracted from the value of jewellery as a relatively permanent adornment, which in this case would work nicely against the casual nature of the observations. Also, the language of the exhibition title and associated statements were quite theoretical and abstract. This renders the work as quite cerebral. A discourse that was more narrative or poetic might help wearers engage on other levels. There’s also the danger with overly theoretical art that you can run out of statements.

Scholem’s exhibition builds on other experiments with relational jewellery, particularly Roseanne Bartley’s Culturing the Body (2002), which invited wearers to bear politically charged words, such a ‘Queue jumper’, and collect public responses. This is a potentially rich vein of development. Of course, t-shirts provide a canvas for circulating witticisms in public. But jewellery tends to be more personal. It expresses a more intimate meaning. In this case, the reveals the meanings of others, within which we see ourselves.

Seeding the Cloud workshops

Roseanne Bartley is presenting a series of three Seeding the Cloud workshops.

Join the artist jeweller Roseanne Bartley as she threads her way in and around the streets and parklands of Melbourne CBD. Over a two-hour process led experience, Roseanne will share the ‘how to’ behind her roving work Seeding the Cloud: A Walking Work in Process. Take part in jewellery based process that addresses the mass of residual plastic within the environment and contribute to the creation of a collectively inspired Civic Necklace.

Come prepared with sensible walking shoes and a weatherproof coat.

Cost: $50 / $25 Craft Victoria Members. Includes a copy of the Seeding the Cloud Instruction Booklet.

Dates:
Thursday 11 August, 10am-12pm
Saturday 13 August, 1.30-3.30pm
Saturday 20 August, 1.30–3.30pm
Bookings: click here

Melbourne Charm School: Luck at the bottom of the world

What really is a ‘lucky country’? And how can we nurture that luck for the future?

Local inspiration has long been a focus of craft practice, and now increasingly design. The default source in many cases is landscape: often a prominent natural feature such as mountain or a unique material like mineral or flora. But landscape does not exist in itself. It is charged with the hopes and fears of the people that dwell in it.

Southern Charms looks for local inspiration in the hazards that define the aspirations and fears particular to communities across the South. It aims to demonstrate how the practice of jewellery design can assist in navigating through uncertain futures.

In Chile, the predominant concern was the recurrent earthquake, which has the potential not only to destroy homes but also to break the social fabric. How to look confidently to the future when it could all collapse at any moment?

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In Australia, there are alternative issues. The Melbourne Charm School was run as part of the State of Design Festival and was situated in Social Studio, where recent African migrants come to learn skills in dress-making, hospitality and management. During the festival the studio demonstrated some of its re-made clothes at a fashion parade.

In the workshop, we explored the anatomy of a charm – how to design for luck. Each participant nominated a particular situation where they thought luck was badly needed.

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Unsurprisingly, the bushfire turned out to be a popular choice. Like the earthquake in Chile, it is a shared collective threat particular to place. While both represent inexorable forces of nature, social cohesion is vital to survival. Everyone needs to help each other to be mindful of the threat. But there are contrasts. With weather reports, we have greater warning of a potential bushfire and it affects people in the countryside more than the city, while an earthquake can happen at any time and is of greater danger to those living in crowded neighbourhoods. Still, in both cases, the local threats are as much what binds people together as local landscape, such as wattle or lapis lazuli – perhaps even more so.

It was also natural that, given the context, the plight of asylum seekers was nominated. This is a journey from a violent homeland, via ‘people smugglers’, on a leaky boat to an suspicious country. Would it be possible for Australians to send a charm to those waiting in detention camps to help them sustain hope? Could there be something that provided a token of the welcome that they might eventually receive – an object on which to pin hopes during the endless months waiting for bureaucracy to move?

But there are also many personal circumstances that require good fortune. Surprisingly, a number of nominations concerned the hazard of parents growing old. Would it be possible to design something to fill the ‘empty nest’ – a sign from the departing children of gratitude for the care so far extended and best wishes for the freedom gained with less responsibilities?

Each participant made a charm specifically to assist with the issue nominated by someone else. Given the time limits, and variation in skill , there were some amazing neckpieces produced. There would need to be much more work done to ensure that the charm could ‘work’ properly, but it was a most auspicious beginning. Some examples:

charm[14]

charm[14]

Certainly, there are other challenges ahead. Clearly one of the challenges that defines our global identity at the moment is climate change. Can a charm be useful in galvanising action? Maybe not. It would seem that trusting in luck to help with climate change works against an active response to the problem. Nonetheless, no one knows exactly how the earth’s weather will be affected by high concentrations of carbon. The risk of catastrophe is large enough to warrant a radical response. An object that reminds of this predicament may well have a role to play. But what would that object be? And how would we use it? That challenge lies ahead for another charm school.

Upcoming Charm Schools

‘Luck is believing you’re lucky.’
Tennessee Williams

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Luck is not something that sits well with a modern way of life. Modernity is largely defined against superstitious practices of the past. Magical folk remedies have been replaced by far more reliable medical science. We no longer make sacrifices to rain gods; we have more responsible water restrictions instead. The only official acknowledgement of luck lies in the growing gambling industry on which local governments have become increasingly dependent.

So does luck still have a place in modern life? Are there occasions when we can still wish someone ‘good luck’ without appearing to be nostalgic for a more mystical past? Does carrying a lucky charm that someone has given you make any real difference to your life?

How might charms demonstrate the things that really matter to us? What might be the role of jewellery as counterbalance to the quantification of friendship in online networks like Facebook?

Towards the exhibition Southern Charms is a series of workshops to explore how to reconnect with the tradition of ‘power jewellery’ such as charms, amulets and talismans. The workshops will explore the culture of fortune:

  • its role in the history of the contemporary jewellery movement
  • its ‘social design’ elements, such as gift-giving and care
  • its potential in responding to the pressing demands in personal and public life

This workshop reviews the function of charms, particularly in jewellery, and considers their potential uses today. Participants will be able to develop new designs and test them out.

Related articles

After the Missionaries events

These events relate to the ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink, which includes articles about how artists are negotiating their paths through a more reciprocal world. For more information go here.

10 June FORUM Has the world changed?

  • Has the Kyoto Protocol changed how rich and poor countries relate to each other?
  • Is Australia moving away from the Anglosphere?
  • Is the Global Financial Crisis a time to look at alternative economic models?
  • Is ethical the new black?
  • Have artists changed in how they relate to the world around them?

You are invited to join a discussion in real time with live people in the same space. These people will include contributors to the ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink. With luck, there will also be some copies, hot of the press.

TIME: 6.00 -8.00 pm Wednesday 10 June
PLACE: Domain House, Birdwood Drive, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
For more information, click here. To submit a question, email here. This event itself occurs in the context of Evolution – the Festival and the Amnesty of Ideas program of Southern Perspectives.

18 June OPENING World of Small Things: An exhibition of craft diplomacy
Craft Victoria, 31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, opening 18 June 6-8, show open until 25 July
To be opened by Soumitri Varadarajan, Associate Professor of Industrial Design RMIT

20 June LAUNCH After the Missionaries issue of Artlink
The ‘After the Missionaries’ issue of Artlink will be formally launched at Craft Victoria, Saturday 20 June 4pm, by Dr Connie Zheng, senior lecturer in management at RMIT and expert in how Chinese do business. This will be preceded by a forum on working with traditional artisans (for more details, see here).

27 August THEREAFTER After ‘After the Missionaries’
There will be an opportunity to reflect on the questions raised by After the Missionaries at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, 78-80 Curzon Street North Melbourne.

Copies of Artlink will be on sale from 15 June.

Where in India is Australia?

They’ve been some invigorating Melbourne-India exchanges lately.

The first occurred at the RMIT Design Research Institute on Friday during a discussion about the Code of Practice for Craft-Design Collaborations. We discussed the arrangement whereby the Touareg nomads were paid half a million dollars for the use of their name in a new model of Volkswagen. This worried a  worker in East Timor, who said that throwing a large sum of money at a community can sometimes cause more problems that it might solve. An Indian designer took a contrary view, not to say that it doesn’t cause problems, but to question why we assume that we are the ones who know to use money better – ‘If I had all that money, I’m sure I’d blow it all on stupid things too.’ Clearly there’s a lot more to be said on this subject, but we hope that there’s more open discussion like this.

Meanwhile, an alternative conversation with Indian craft was occurring at the culmination of the Crosshatched project, organised by Sandra Bowkett and Minhazz Majumdar. For Sandra, this is the fourth time she has brought Indian artisans to Melbourne. On this occasion she opened up new opportunities for collaboration. For Minhazz, she came to Australia with great curiosity, professing that Australia figured very little in the view most Indians had of the world, especially compared to the US and Britain.

Pradyumna Kumar and Anne Ferguson

Pradyumna Kumar and Anne Ferguson

Vipoo Srivalasa and Pushpa Kumari

Vipoo Srivalasa and Pushpa Kumari

Two of the artists represented the Madhubani folk art tradition of Bihar. Pradyumnar Kumar worked with Anne Ferguson on realising a three-dimensional version of a story that he had illustrated in a prize-winning book. In the story, a firefly witnesses the trials of a walking tree as it battles a raging fire. It seems a particularly poignant story given the recent history of bushfires in Victoria. Except in this case, it is only the fire of the kiln that can same this unfired tree from eventual destruction.

Vipoo Srivalasa worked with Pradyumna’s sister-in-law Pushpa, to again take her two dimensional drawings into the third-dimension, in vessel form. They took turns in creating the outline and interior textures of the cobalt drawings on ceramics.

Minhazz Majumdar watching Montu Chitrakar singing the Melbourne song

Minhazz Majumdar watching Montu Chitrakar singing the Melbourne song

The scene at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Montu's Melbourne song

The scene at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Montu's Melbourne song

The third artist was a patachitra painter from Bengal. Chitrakars had been previously hosted during the Tramjatra project as an expression of tram solidarity between Calcutta and Melbourne. Montu Chitraka is part of the next generation of scroll artists. As part of his residency, Montu composed and painted a story of their journey to Melbourne, including the ‘highlight of my life’ in visiting the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The scroll was quickly acquired by the Australia-India Council, though he could have sold this many times over with the great interest it evoked.

So does this bring us any closer to Minhazz’ question about the role of Australia in Indian identity? We may well return the European concept of the antipodes, that constructed New Holland as a land where the natural order was upturned. A project like Crosshatched enabled these artists to try out different techniques, like moving into three dimensional works. Like the Bollywood film set in Melbourne, Salaam Namaste, Australia offers a space to explore new forms of Indianness. Whether this is a dilution or revival of Indian culture remains to be seen. At a person-to-person level, it certainly seems to have brought the two countries closer.

Perhaps one day we can think about reconstituting a new Gondwana, forest of the Gonds, by reuniting artists from lands in Latin America, Africa, Australasia, India and Middle East, who were once one land mass.

  • Majumdar Minhazz ‘Folk art forms in India: Evolving a new paradigm’ in Craft Revival Trust