Wellington charmers relaxing after a two-days of intensive talking and making
Peter Deckers’ jewellery course at Whitireia Polytech has been producing a generation of particularly active contemporary jewellers. With projects like See Here, they have been not only making engaging art works but also finding new contexts for them to be seen.
The Wellington Charm School was one a series held in New Zealand, Australia and Chile. Around 24 jewellers, mainly from the Wellington region, spent a sun-blessed weekend in Porirua designing new charms for specific contexts. We had four particular themes: disaster, illness, travel and love.
One of the highlights was the session where each participant brought out their example of an existing charm. Most had objects of extraordinary poignancy that created links across generations, often to deceased parents. For the Maori participants, it was interesting to hear stories of how their charms were ‘activated’ through pilgrimage. It’s tempting to think that ‘power objects’ are a particular feature of the New Zealand upbringing, for both Maori and Pakeha alike.
An especially poignant moment when Vivian Atkinson laid down a seemingly endless charm bracelet
Another notable feature of this workshop was the plausible medical applications of charms. The relevance of such objects to conditions such as blood pressure and asthma make it seem quite reasonable to imagine jewellers-in-residence at health clinics.
A charm for bushfires made by the workshop technician Matthew Wilson in trans-Tasman solidarity
Typified in the Bone, Stone, Shell exhibition of 1988, modern New Zealand jewellery has been defined by the adaption of materials and techniques from Pacific adornment traditions to Western culture. The children of that generation seem interested not just in the process of material translation, but also the spirit of the taonga, the empowered object.
You are most welcome to visit the exhibition Welcome Signs: Contemporary Interpretations of the Garland at Ashok Hotel, New Delhi, 4-6 February 2011. If you are not able to be there personally, you can view the work online.
Welcome Signs is an exhibition of contemporary jewellery from across the Asia Pacific that draws inspiration from the ornament of hospitality.
This exhibition is part of an international survey that features in a jewellery summit titled Abhushan: Tradition & Design – Dialogues for the 21st Century. This summit is organised by the World Craft Council and occurs in New Delhi, 4-6 February 2011.
Click images for information about participating artists:
Welcome Signs is curated by Kevin Murray. The participation of Victorian artists is supported by the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria.
Southern Charms: New Power Jewellery across the Pacific
Call for Expressions of Interest
How do we make luck where it is needed today?
Southern Charms is an exhibition of ‘power jewellery’ that demonstrates the relevance of objects to hopes and fears. It includes work designed by jewellers, designers and artists from Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Bolivia.
The exhibition will open at RMIT Gallery in February 2012. You are invited to submit an EOI, due by 4 December 2010. Please download the EOI details from here (or Spanish version). For more information about the project, visit www.craftunbound.net/projects/southern-charms.
Southern Charms: New Power Jewellery Across the Pacific
Exhibition in development
Announcing a project to reveal new developments in ‘power jewellery’ that bring together craft cultures across the Pacific ocean. ‘Power jewellery’ claims to not only to be an object of beauty, but also to have an effect on its wearer. Most commonly, it protects the wearer against ill fortune. While traditionally this has been associated with superstitions, such as the evil eye, in this case the ‘power’ is understood as the strength that is sustained through social relations, such as friendship, solidarity or hospitality. The project is to explore ways of re-casting traditional forms of the charm for a modern secular world.
The net is cast across the Pacific, including Anglo cultures in Australasia, Aboriginal indigenous jewellery, Pacific islander ornament and charms from the Andean cultures on the Pacific’s eastern edge.
As well as providing new tools for social support, the Southern Charms project also aims to foster new conversations and networks across the Pacific. You can find out more at www.craftunbound.net/projects/southern-charms.
For expressions of interest, please contact Kevin Murray by email at charm(at)craftunbound.net. At this stage, examples of work are most welcome. Please note, the works will include charms that are designed to be used by others, rather than purely personal reflections on culture. An important question to consider is how their power be released into the world. The exhibition is planned to open in 2012.
- Workshop in Santiago, Chile (May 2010)
- Workshop with the Melbourne State of Design Festival (July 2010)
- Grass to Gold jewellery conference in Delhi (Feb 2011)
- Workshops in Pacific (TBC)
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