Tag Archives: rich

Saovaluck Pannont–a new Thai jewellery artist

Saovaluck Pannont

Saovaluck Pannont

Saovaluck Pannont trained in jewellery at the Gem and Jewelry Institute of Thailand. Grace represents a new generation of Thai jewellers that adopt the position of jeweller as artist to create original works that express an individual vision. To sustain this practice, Grace has also developed her own brand, Stogari.

For Welcome Signs, Grace’s work reflects a contemporary Thai jeweller that draws on her culture’s love of adornment, though rather than jasmine petals she uses stones and seeds.

Saovaluck Pannont, necklace, carnelian, onyx, agate, garnet, crystals swarovski, siver 92.5, seed beads

Saovaluck Pannont, necklace, carnelian, onyx, agate, garnet, crystals swarovski, siver 92.5, seed beads

Artist Statement

I grew up among the Lanna culture surrounded by plenty of local outstanding arts in Chiangmai, the well-known city with long history back to 19th century. I am experienced with multinational culture derived from people around the world since Chiangmai is now famous destination for tourist.

Driven by my own fascination since childhood with easy lifestyle of Lanna Culture. I have enough time to make my own things and jewelry with my own style that comes from creativity and imagination. I begin to make my first jewelry six years ago.

I create it by my own method. I start my works with Sterling Silver and semi-precious stones. I absorb powerful and outstanding characters from these natural resources, then make it become necklace, ear rings and bracelet.

I intend to make each of my work a masterpiece which is similar to no one.

Craft of management redux

A recent Background Briefing was devoted to the culture of MBAs. It claimed that the arrogance fostered in business schools like Harvard encouraged the reckless financial speculation which triggered the current global crisis.

image

image

The program featured the views of Will Hopper, an economist and author of The Puritan Gift: Triumph, Collapse and Revival of an American Dream. He contrasted the lateral mobility of the MBA with the previous model of manager who worked his (or sometimes her) way through the ranks. For Hopper, it’s an issue of ‘craft’.

Yes, this is a characteristic of what we call ‘the great engine companies’. The young man — and there were not many women in business going back to the 1950s and ’60s — but the young man would join the corporation from college, aged 21, 22, and he would work his way up to the top. And as he went, he learned two things. He learned the craft of management. Now I think this word ‘craft’ is extremely important. Management is something that you learn on the job under a master, just like an old-fashioned craft of carpentry for example. So the individual learned the craft of management as he worked his way to the top… And as the young man progressed up through the ranks towards the top, he would tend to move around all the departments, so he spent a little time in sales, a little time in accounting, a little time in manufacturing, and when he reached the top he would have acquired ‘domain knowledge’. He would know about the product, the suppliers, the customers, the method of production, the relation to regulatory authorities, movements in the market. He would be a master of the subject.
(ABC Radio National Background Briefing – 29 March 2009 – MBA: Mostly bloody awful)

It seems one of the great challenges of our time is to find ways of re-introducing the value of craft into how we manage our world. What survives of traditional crafts (pottery, weaving, metalsmithing, etc) provides a compelling theatre for these qualities. But that shouldn’t be seen as a kind of monastic order separated from worldly affairs. How can these values find their way into the way we heal bodies, manage our cities, grow our food and tell our stories?

image

image

April’s issue of The Monthly features an article by Gideon Haigh on Damien Wright. It’s a many-sided account of a contemporary furniture maker’s world. He helps convey the way Wright’s practice is more than just the construction of wooden tables, but also engages with critical issues in Austarlian culture – specifically how non-Indigenous Australians (‘gubbas’ down here) can work within an Indigenous context.

On a personal note, I’m quoted by the author as making a statement about design and the Platonic hierarchy. This reference to Plato may seem a little untoward as a quote taken out of its conversational setting with the author. So please let me fill in that context.

My point was that, broadly speaking, Western culture tends to see materials as secondary to the ideas that shape them. This theory of Platonic forms provides a metaphysical framework that underpins religious and class hierarchies. This reached an extreme expression in our era. The millennium drive to ‘smart solutions’ that transcend the messy business of making things fuelled a seeming air-borne culture that has just recently come crashing to the ground.

Design featured in that story as the way information-based capital could replace the loss of manufacturing, particularly in regions like Victoria. But the kind of design that flourished in this environment seemed largely about the consumption of imported brands. As many have argued since, design became a form of cultural capital that circulated between urban elites and those wishing to buy membership. This resulted in a few elegant and worthy objects, but also a sea of hype which submerged the less glamorous craft side of the equation.

Don’t get be wrong. I think design plays a critical role. Good craft needs design if it is to find a place for itself in the lived world. It’s just that the relationship is two-way. Design also needs to be in partnership with the skills and labour necessary to realise its ideas in the materials available. The logic of outsourcing that dominated the ‘smart’ years too often took the ‘making’ side for granted. Hopefully, no more.

I’m fond of the line by Mikhail Bakhtin that ‘Expression is the cradle of experience’. So we could also say that craft is the cradle of good design.

Kraf Tidak Berikat – Craft Unbound in Malaysia

image

image

Kuala Lumpur’s Craft Complex promises to be a ‘one-stop craft centre’. It’s quite an extensive series of buildings, including museum, shops, design workshop, café and artist colony. The museum features an exhibition of quite sumptuous gold embroidery. The shop promotes elaborate filigree work as desirable corporate gifts. The textile outlet has a functioning loom, but it is only demonstrated for official functions. And the artist colony consists of mostly painters, though there is a ceramicist and batik workshop.

The overall impression from these buildings is of ‘rich craft’ – craft that celebrates nobility and distinction. The traditional dagger, or keri, features prominently as a traditional symbol of status.

The banners outside the building proclaim ‘kraft ke persada dunia’, which loosely translates as ‘taking craft to the world’. This seems to fit well with KL’s ambition to be a centre for world trade.

There are glimpses of quite striking textile designs, particularly from Sarawak. But the tourist is likely to need to travel to these places themselves in order to get a real taste of Malaysian craft. In the end, craft needs craftspersons.

Observations on the Olympics of Chinese craft

The World Craft Council General Assembly in China provided an opportunity to see aspects of a craft culture that is ancient in a very modern way.

We were taken on an official visit to the Zhongyi lace factory, which is one of the economic jewels of the Toglu province. The showroom featured a performance by a dozen or so lacemakers embroidering designs with great concentration.

image

image

image

image

This factory specialised in ‘wanlus’ lace, originally imported from Venice in 1919. It has transformed this technique into a major industrial enterprise, as we saw when we strayed from the showroom into the factory complex. Solitary young women supervised rows of massive and loud mechanised looms producing lines such as polyesterlace.

Within the context of the Western craft movement, this contrast between the tranquil scene of traditional handiwork and the mechanical world beyond would normally be something ironic. But the factory owners seemed proud that both could exist together.

In association with the General Assembly there was a huge exhibition of crafts, mostly Chinese. Two in particular seemed worthy of note.

image

image

The pride of the exhibition was the Temple of Heaven Pray Year Palace. It was manufactured by Hong Kong Huangyungguan Bijouterie Co.Ltd, planned by Huang Yunguang and Wang Yongqing, and designed and supervised by Wang Shuwen.

This work transforms a historic architectural monument into a piece of jewellery. The original palace in Beijing was made for the Emperors of Ming and Qing to pray for a successful harvest. The exhibition piece is a quintessential piece of ‘rich craft’. It includes:

  • micro-inlay technology
  • 5,693 golden gemstones
  • 10,000 inner and outer door arches
  • 100 kg silver
  • 200,000 diamonds
  • cadcam technology
image

image

As with the lace, this work is presented in a way that sees no conflict between modern technology and traditional craft values. The work ‘integrates oriental traditional cultural characteristics with modern civilization’.

This year’s Beijing Olympic opening ceremony demonstrated a similar reverence for traditional crafts, particularly calligraphy. The craft and sports Olympics both avoid any reference to the history of modernity, leapfrogging from traditional to contemporary. The craft on display seemed completely divorced from the everyday experience of people living in China. Is this the inverse of the Cultural Revolution, when the traditional was banned in order to focus exclusively on the modern struggle? In today’s China, is the traditional something quite new and fresh? Many questions are left hanging after this brief encounter with craft. As China eventually becomes the world’s leading economic power, we would not be remiss to consider these questions a little further.

Some other observations:

image

image

In a more traditional vein, the exhibition included work by the revered master of Tiny Sculptural Calligraphy, Zhang Yuanxing. Recognised as ‘exclusive work in China’, this work consists of miniature calligraphic script carved into jade. According to his brochure, this craft relates to ancient Buddhist mythology:

A legend in the Buddhist stories says that the Buddhism has the boundless power so he can put a huge mountain into a grain of millet, which is magically spectacular.

Zhang Yuanxing has an interesting personal history. He grew up in the village of Shenyang during the Japanese occupation. While the period is regarded as a tragedy in Chinese history, he combines both Japanese and Chinese script in his work as a gesture of harmony between the nations. It’s an interesting example of ‘craft diplomacy’ through ‘small things’, which enable cultural exchange by slipping through the net of international relations.

image

image


Zhang Yuanxing with his granddaughter Xu Jingmei who hopes to continue his craft of tiny sculptural calligraphy.
image

image


The pendant on the bottom right has a script that advocates filial piety. Mr Yuanxing sells this for half price to encourage its message.

On a more sensory level, there seemed a particular taste in the Chinese aesthetic for complex rhizomic forms. This monumental sculpture of a monk emerging from the ground won much praise from visitors:

image

image

 
image

image

And in the nearby tourist attraction of Westlake, many of the features reflected an inscription set in a chaos of rock.

 

image

image

And from Shanghai airport, the Remy Martin ad for cognac tries to appeal to the same kind of aesthetic.

Perhaps like the rich ginger sauces of Chinese cuisine, these wild baroque forms offer a kind of visual pungency. Yet at the same time, the word of authority emerges from its core in a way that cannot be traced back to any root.

The Chinese showed a great commitment to craft in hosting the World Craft Council General Assembly and creating a virtual Craft Olympics around it. Like the other Olympics, the organisation was flawless. The world of craft owed a great debt to China, and one that it should seek to repay in starting what should be a rich and long-term dialogue.

After the Missionaries

image

image

2009 will feature a number of forums for thinking about the role of art in a new bilateral world. The Selling Yarns conference in March will include workshops for artisan-design collaborations. In June, at Craft Victoria, the World of Small Things: An Exhibition of Craft Diplomacy will feature the fruits of dialogue between first and third worlds. And at the same time, an issue of Artlink will be published to air the complex questions in the new bilateral global order.

image

image

Here’s a call for expressions of interest for the Artlink issue: After the Missionaries: Art in a Bilateral World

Movements like Make Poverty History reinforce a vision of the world divided between helpless victims and those able to save them. Divisions between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ nations, ‘advanced’ and ‘emerging’ economies, ‘first’ and ‘third’ worlds, assume a singular path of history, on which the West happens to be ahead.

But the world is changing. Old hierarchies are challenged now by the growth of China and India as ‘superpowers’. They are more than victims of colonisation and Western imperialism. They have their own ambitions to be seen as leaders on the world stage. Over the past two years, China, India and Japan have all held summits for the leaders of the African nations.

Climate change forces us to reconsider the relations between North and South. A major challenge of climate change is to establish a plan that has support of both rich and poor nations. The global impact of carbon emissions requires a global consensus for action. While the first world focuses on carbon reduction, the third world argues that it should not be made to suffer for sake of the rich nations. Negotiations around this are critical for the future of the planet.

Australia has been positioned as a key mediator between first and third worlds. Though a rich nation by world standards, Australia does not have the reputation of an imperial power and finds itself amongst the countries of the South, at least geographically. As potentially the ‘most Asia-literate country in the collective West’, Australia has been granted the role of mediator between USA and China.

Art has an important role to play in this.

The history of Western cultural engagement with the third world has been shadowed by primitivism. The energies and traditions of the colonised world have provided fuel to modernist and post-colonial movements in rich nations. Such dialogues have been relatively unilateral. What do the subjects of the primitivist gaze gain from this attention? How do we engage with cultures of the third world in a way that is reciprocal? While politicians go through the formalities of global summits on climate change, what role can artists and makers play in stitching together a fabric of artistic exchanges between rich Australia and poor nations?

This issue of Artlink is intended as a forum for difficult questions demanded by our time:

  • On what basis can artists from the first and third worlds work together?
  • On what terms can an artist or designer engage traditional artisans?
  • Is visual art the exclusive domain of global elites?
  • Is world craft a version of ‘noble savage’?
  • Are human rights and environmentalism the thin end of the Western wedge?

We are looking for articles about:

  • First world artists working in collaboration with artists and communities in the third world
  • Designers engaging in product development with traditional artisans
  • Australian artists and designers working in the galleries and studios of the third world
  • Art practices that involve critical dialogue between first and third world experiences

Articles are due by 1 March 2009. Payment is $300 per thousand words. Please send expressions of interest to Kevin Murray at beyond@kitezh.com.

Campana Brothers on the power of nature

From a recent exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt museum, the Brazilian designers reflect on their romantic ideals. In particular, they celebrate the artisanship, individual expression, the presence of nature in urban life, recycling and dreams. The time seems ripe for the Campana Brothers. Its in this broader context that we might view the turn to the European forest in Australian craft. What will we find when we emerge from the forest?

Rich jewellery, a little closer to the source

37-pendant

37-pendant

The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has just acquired a work by the Italian goldsmith Andrea Cagnetti. Like Australia’s Robert Baines, the 40 year-old Cagnetti has specialised in the ancient technique of granulation as practiced by Etruscan artisans. Unlike the speculative Baines, Cagnetti employs his craft reverentially. The work above is thus described:

The 22-karat gold pendant, named "Chort", takes the form of an eight-arm cross with a central medallion featuring an image of the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei). Using a technique developed by the ancient Etruscans (7th-6th  century B.C.), the image is made of tiny gold balls (granulation) set against a starry background which is also made of small balls. Twisted wires radiate from the medallion while the eight arms of the cross are made of gold sheet with a surface decorated with wires and granulation. Two borings in the arms next to the central vertical element have sheet metal bails and are points of attachment for a chain or ribbon. On the right bail, there are the marks 900 [22kt] within a cartouche and 72 VT [artist’s registry number] within a cartouche.

Cagnetti is currently working on a book that considers the social context that lent itself to the development of sophisticated metal techniques in ancient cultures. It makes us wonder what kind of context then leads someone like Robert Baines to exercise these skills in the production of such authentic fictions.