Tag Archives: common

Roseanne Bartley–a neighbourly ornament

Roseanne Bartley

Roseanne Bartley

Roseanne Bartley is one of Australia’s most innovative jewellers. She has pioneered both technical and conceptual developments in the use of found materials. At heart, her jewellery projects attempt to connect people together through the form of body ornament. For Welcome Signs, she has present the first in a new series that broaden the process of jewellery making to freshly engage neighbourhoods. Her work demonstrates the potential of jewellery to counterbalance the increasing physical isolation of contemporary life in info-hubs.

Roseanne Bartley migrated to Australia from New Zealand in 1988 to study Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT (Melbourne), she completed a Masters Degree by Research at RMIT in 2006. Roseanne was awarded a residency at the Australia Council Barcelona Studio in 2004, an Australia Council New Work Grants in 2001 and 2006, an Arts Victoria Presentation Grant in 2001, an Arts Victoria Artist in Schools Residency in 2008, and an Incubator Seed Pod Grant mentored by the performance Company Punctum in 2009. She has participated in cross-disciplinary workshops led by live art tactile intervention artists PVI Collective and Dr Shelley Sacks and Dr Wolfgang Zumdick of the Social Sculpture Research Unit Oxford, Brookes University, UK. Her work has been published in Sustainable Jewellery (2009), New Directions in Jewellery 2 (2007) and Craft Unbound: Make the Common Precious (2005). 

Roseanne Bartley Seeding the Cloud - a walking work in process; plastic, wood, silk, 100cm by 50cm, 2010

Roseanne Bartley Seeding the Cloud - a walking work in process; plastic, wood, silk, 100cm by 50cm, 2010

Artist statement

My work is created from the poorest of poor materials, I collect and observe from what has been left behind, in my immediate neighbourhood or as I travel. From a resource more generally viewed as disposable or of little cultural significance I find a potent materiality that retains something of the background noise of history and experience. I transform the unwanted to a state of ‘wanted-ness’ and invite a recalibration of what it might mean to be precious.

Seeding the Cloud: A walking work in process is a roving environmental craftwork. The process involves walking through the urban fabric of Melbourne (streets, laneways and parklands) carrying a small pack of hand tools. I collect fragments of hard plastic, pausing as I go at bus stops, picnic tables or park benches to drill and thread the fragments with silk thread and plastic beads. At the walks conclusion the be-jewelled length of plastic fragments is threaded to a larger matrix of looping formations.

Through repeat performances of this process a multi string necklace is formed, the product of which offers multiple forms of engagement. Unfolded it depicts a cartographic relationship between matter, time and place. Gathered up it can be worn on the body by one person or shared and interacted with by multiple  people.

My intention is to invite participants into this process and to walk, gather and work together across a breadth of neighbourhoods, states and nations. I welcome you to join me in this process.

Sam Tho Duong – the private made public

Sam Tho Duong

Sam Tho Duong

When Sam Tho Duong was 14 years of age his family left Vietnam and settled in Pforzheim, the jewellery capital of Germany, if not the world. Sam was intrigued by the Goldstadt (Gold City) and began to study jewellery at the Technical College for Design of Jewelry & Objects. He took up a goldsmith apprenticeship with Dr.Wellendorff and then completed a diploma of design at University of Design, Pforzheim. Since he started as a freelance designer in 2002, he has shown his work in dozens of exhibitions, including six solo shows throughout Europe. In 2009 he won the prestigious Herbert-Hofmann-Prize for contemporary jewellery.

For Welcome Signs, he has contributed his work In der Ruhe Liegt die Kraft (In Silence lies Power). These include three ‘garlands’ modelled on traditional floral neckwreaths but made of toilet paper. The garlands are constructed by cutting white and yellow toilet paper into strips and rolling each piece in his fingers. These ‘paper pearls’ are then threaded on a steel string for permanence.

For Sam, the work reflects on the importance of the rest room as a sanctuary in our day. As modern people we depend on the regular supply of a material of which we remain silent, toilet paper, which Sam describes as ‘clean, soft and reliable. It deserves more than been flushed down the toilet.’

The contemporary jewellery movement has been largely defined as a challenge to traditional notions of preciousness. They sought to give value to jewellery not in the materials but through the ideas. Plastic could be just as beautiful  as gold, if designed with skill and imagination. This modernist challenge continues in Sam’s work, though he adds a critical edge in using a material that we normally keep out of sight.

So can we imagine a work like Sam’s ever being used as a welcome garland? Usually these garlands are made of material in public use, like flowers, money or confectionary. Can they be made from a material associated with private space? Or does their intrinsic beauty transcend all negative associations?

Sam Tho Duong 'Sanf & Sicher' (toiletpaper)

Sam Tho Duong 'Sanf & Sicher' (toiletpaper)

Sam Tho Duong 'Sanf & Sicher' (toiletpaper)

Sam Tho Duong 'Sanf & Sicher' (toiletpaper)

Sam Tho Duong is a participant in the Welcome Signs exhibition

Finally made it! Castlemaine’s new take on art

Noah Grosz with his sculpture 'Blockie'

Noah Grosz with his sculpture 'Blockie'

Noah Grosz with his sculpture 'Blockie'

The first Castlemaine Visual Arts Biennial opened last night with exhibitions in two town venues and public art through the greater township. The theme Art of Making: Artisanship and Invention responded to the kind of artistic community in the area, which draws from its light industrial history to create work through foundries, forgies and workshops.

A good example of where this work might be heading is the artist Noah Grosz who won the CVAB prize with his sculpture ‘Blockie’. A long time resident of Castlemaine, Grosz manages to bring together two opposing sides of the town. While there is a rough and ready guild of contemporary artisans who create beautiful objects for contemplation, there is also a large tribe of Hot Rodders, who soup up cars for enjoyment of speed and noise. But connecting them both is a love of fabrication. With the help of a glue gun, Grosz joins these together in a version of a 1934 Ford (favourite of the band Zee Zee Top) made from a local reed called Phragmites Australis, which is light, found in the gullies where once was gold, and valued greatly by the Indigenous inhabitants of the region.

The CVAB was opened by Chris McAuliffe, director of the Potter Museum of Art and a local resident – who generously demonstrated his own craft by brewing 100 bottles of beer for the event. Chris spoke with determination about the handmade as an expression of humanness. They’ll be more humanness on display this Sunday with an Open Bench program at Lot 19. For more information go here.

Congratulations to Festival Director Martin Paten and Visual Arts Coordinator Zoe Amor for constructing such an important new place in the Australian visual arts calendar. The CVAB promises to be an ongoing space for that very embodied experience of world that comes through contact with materials manipulated with skill, thoughtfulness and invention.

For more images of works, go here.

The Baci ceremony, with strings attached



I was at the Selling Yarns market in the National Museum, chatting with Valerie Kirk, head of textiles at the Canberra School of Art. I noticed she had some string tied around her wrist. At first I thought it was some practical material related to a workshop she was assisting on the day. But when I inquired about it, she revealed a very different story.

Valerie had been given this string at a ceremony in Laos, where she had been visiting a silk farm. The ceremony is known as Baci, and consists of 32 pieces of string that are tied around the wrist. The purpose of the ceremony is to coax back the 32 spirits (kwan) that animate the body. These are wayward spirits who often need bribes of food, drink and chants to make their way back home.

The Baci ceremony is performed at times when a person is likely to be needing extra support, such as a woman who had recently given birth, or a young child going to a distant school. In Valerie’s case it was the mark of respect for a distinguished visitor.

In a way, it seems similar to the Brazilian braided friendship bracelet, which is usually fastened on the wrist as a mark of solidarity with someone else. In both cases, the bracelet is ideally worn until it falls naturally from the body. This finite time is appropriate to a relationship that cannot endure indefinitely without some further contact.

Jewellery like this tends to come to us from exotic places. It is often without cost, but we value it greatly for the tradition and warmth that it brings. It should make us wonder whether anything like this might emanate from a capitalist society like our own, when most public things tend to be commodified.

But perhaps things are changing. Maybe this is something we can look forward to.

From trash to spectacle



Shinique Smith, Arcadian Cluster, 2006.  Installation view from P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center.  Clothing, fabric, found objects, acrylic, collage & binding. Approx 8′ h x 11′ w x 8′ d, (500-600 lbs)

Here’s an interesting discussion about new craft that eschews skill in favour of collaboration and randomness. It raises an important question about the place of craftsmanship in an un-monumental age.

Public Lecture Series, Spring 2009
Department of Fiber and Material Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Fiber and Material Studies Department Faculty (2008 – 2009): Anne Wilson, Chair, Mike Andrews, Jeremy Biles, Marianne Faribanks, Surabhi Ghosh, Karolina Gnatowski, Diana Guerrero-Macia, Kathryn Hixson, Amy Honchell, Joan Livingstone, Christy Matson, Darrel Morris, Karen Reimer, Rebecca Ringquist, Ellen Rothenberg, Shannon Stratton, Fraser Taylor, Christine Tarkowski, Sarah Wagner.

Recently, artistic strategies for production have been shifting.
Materiality and crafting are back with a vengeance. The handmade and sensuous are gaining increased favor even though, or perhaps because of, the ubiquity of current computer-screen culture and the ever-widening practice of digital processing. The New Museum’s inaugural show in New York “UN-monumental” was filled with work made of cast-off materials from the street, hobbled together; while the MCA Chicago’s recent retrospective of Jeff Koons featured his shiny stainless-steel baubles, the result of years of technological experimentation at a great cost. The 2008 Whitney Biennial presented sculptures of bird dropping patterns, along with work of sloppy craft and studio trash. Across town at Pace Wildenstein, Zuang Huan’s show presented a spectacle of art produced by teams of skilled wood carver artisans in Shanghai, and a giant gallery-filling mother and baby pair made of scores of pieced together cowhides. Artists across the world are collaborating in spontaneous or programmed DIY projects on the internet and in the street; while Takashi Murakami’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton was served by a boutique selling the artist-designed purses smack in middle of the staid Brooklyn Museum.

Trash and spectacle, collaboration and stardom, the haves and the have-nots. How and why do artists choose how to make art, and with what materials? What does the renewed interest in craft — from the sloppy to the chic — signify? Is the overall global economy impacting our artistic economy? How do the exigencies of labor and production in the global economy effect artistic choices for production, collaboration, and outsourcing as strategies? What has happened to the challenges of identity construction within recent changes? And specifically, how are artists who employ cloth and fiber as materials and strategies responding to aesthetic and economic forces?

This Fiber/Material lecture series presents views on Trash to Spectacle from the perspectives of art practice, art history, and art criticism. Two recent books offer platforms for some of the questions and debates posed in this lecture series: The Object of Labor: Art, Cloth, and Cultural Production by Joan Livingstone and John Ploof (Chicago and Cambridge, MA: SAIC Press and MIT Press, 2007) and Thinking Through Craft by Glenn Adamson (London, UK: Berg Publishers and the Victoria & Albert Museum, 2007).

This lecture series is made possible by the William Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Lectureship in Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  All lectures are free and open to the public.


Thursday March 5th, 6pm, SAIC Columbus Drive Auditorium, Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard

Dr. Glenn Adamson is Head of Graduate Studies and Deputy Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In that capacity, he teaches on the History of Design graduate course run collaboratively with the Royal College of Art. His research ranges from modern craft and industrial design to English and American decorative arts during the 17th and 18th centuries. He is the author of Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World (Milwaukee Art Museum/MIT Press). Dr. Adamson’s monograph Thinking Through Craft (V&A Publications/Berg Publishers) was published in October 2007. He also co-edits the new Journal of Modern Craft (Berg Publishers), with Tanya Harrod and Edward S. Cooke, Jr. Currently Dr. Adamson is at work on a project about Postmodernism for the V&A, to be on view in 2011.

Wednesday April 1, 6pm, SAIC Columbus Drive Auditorium, Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard
Kathryn Hixson is an art critic, art historian, and full Adjunct Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, currently working on her dissertation “Body/Image: Presentation and Representation of the Body in the 1970s.” She writes for Art US, Art on Paper, among other art journals and is the former editor of the Chicago-based New Art Examiner.

Shannon Stratton is an artist, curator and writer. Her current creative focus is ThreeWalls, an artist residency and visual arts program that she co-founded in 2003 where she acts as Director and Chief Curator. Her writing focuses on contemporary fiber and craft, and with artist Judith Leemann is producing “Gestures of Resistance: The Slow Assertions of a Craft,” an exhibition and book project slated for public release in 2009/2010. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Wednesday April 22, 6pm, SAIC Columbus Drive Auditorium, Columbus Drive and Jackson Boulevard

Shinique Smith is a painter/sculptor who combines elements of graffiti, Japanese calligraphy, abstract expressionism and popular culture. Working with a variety of materials, Smith creates mixed media works inspired by fashion, urban detritus and the objects that we cherish and discard, which come to shape our personal mythologies. She received her BFA (1992) and MFA (2003) from The Maryland Institute College of Art and has held residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and The Headlands Center for the Arts. She has exhibited at The Deutsche Guggenheim, The New Museum, The National Portrait Gallery/ Smithsonian, PS 1 Contemporary Arts Center, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. Smith is represented by Yvon Lambert Gallery, Paris/New York/London.

Janis Jefferies is an artist, writer, curator, and Professor of Visual Arts in
the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She is Artistic Director of Goldsmiths Digital Studios and Director of the Constance Howard Resource and Research Centre in Textiles. Jefferies was trained as a painter and later pioneered the field of contemporary textiles within visual and material culture, internationally through exhibitions and texts. In the last five years she has been working on technological based arts, including Woven Sound (with Dr. Tim Blackwell). She has been a principal investigator on projects involving new haptic technologies by bringing the sense of touch to the interface between people and machines and generative software systems for creating and interpreting cultural artifacts, museums and the external environment. In the spring 2009 semester, Jefferies will be a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies.

Jefferies will participate in the construction of a SAIC bog-website that invites public interaction on the topics presented in this lecture series.


The Discovery of the New Mundito





It’s great to see the students at the University of Valparaiso continuing to embrace creative challenges that people like Professor Gunther throw at them.

I presented a workshop on the theme of El Mundo de las Cositas, in relation to the World of Small Things exhibition that is being developed for Craft Victoria next year. We talked about the alternative economy of small things, including the festival of Alasitas in Bolivia. The students invented a wide range of little objects with a special function to play in our lives, including this figure that is used in a complex drinking game.

Cositas are part of a growing interest among Chileans in what they call Abajismo, a fascination for developments like ‘poor craft’ that draw inspiration from the street. There’s a lot, lot more to say about this, which I hope to say at a later date.

As they say in Chile, ‘Chaoito!’

Rich and poor, Australian and Aotearoa

If you’re around the north island…

Rich Craft, Poor Craft – Thursday 2 October

Writers Kevin Murray and Damian Skinner will present two illustrated talks about Murray’s concept of ‘rich and poor craft’ in contemporary jewellery from Australia and New Zealand.

Baroque ‘n’ Roll: the forest versus the street in contemporary Australian jewellery. In this talk Kevin Murray will discuss concepts of rich and poor craft drawn from the alternative classical and modernist strategies that have characterised much of recent southern arts.

Native/Natural, Settler/Silver: Considering Murray’s Theory of Rich and Poor Craft in Contemporary Jewellery from Aotearoa. In this talk Damian Skinner argues that Murray’s dialectic of rich craft and poor craft in Australian jewellery can be mapped very differently within contemporary New Zealand jewellery.

Dr Kevin Murray is a writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia. His book, Craft Unbound: Make the Common Precious, was published by Craftsman House in 2005. Dr Damian Skinner is a writer who lives in Gisborne. His book, Between Tides: Jewellery by Alan Preston, is being published by Random House in October 2008.

Thursday 2 October, 6.15pm, Room WE 230 AUT campus, Auckland, New Zealand

A little gallery on the corner



The Eisenberg Gallery: The Victorian Museum of Experimental Art sits on an intersection in suburban Brunswick, Melbourne. It seems the perfect venue for the jewellery of Roseanne Bartley, who sources the detritus of street consumption as precious gems for her brooches and necklaces. You can see her recent work from the busy corner of Nicholson and Blyth Street until 12 September.



Tim Winton: a tradesman of the ordinary

Carmen Lawrence reviews Tim Winton’s new novel Breath for the Australian Literary Review. There are two points that seem worth noting. First, she describes Winton as a ‘tradesman’:

Winton has often said that he regards himself as a tradesman rather than an artist; in Breath he confirms his status as a consummate wordsmith who can take our breath away with the pungency of his portraits of the landscape.

The craft analogy in writing seems to bolster our confidence in reading Winton. We can feel sure that the illusions he creates on the page are well made and will not show cracks that threaten our suspension of disbelief.

The second point is about his celebration of the ‘ordinary’:

Winton has often said that he thinks the ordinary things in life are worthy of celebration and that he tries in his writing to have the commonplace "looked at anew". Whether it is the Lambs and the Pickles in Cloudstreet or the old recluse in An Open Swimmer, he writes sympathetically about "people who aren’t articulate, aren’t mobile and are often alienated and powerless". He strives to render the ordinary as transcendent; he once said that "ordinary life overflows with divine grace".

Its interesting to consider this perspective alongside the ‘poor craft’ that seems distinctive to Australia. Maybe it is a way of positioning artistic creativity in a deeply egalitarian culture.

Winton does not write about grand tours through Europe. He writes about surfing, sport and lonely adolescence. His focus on the immediate common world makes him a writer we can call our own, as Chileans identify with the poetry of Pablo Neruda.

Much anew about nothing



Caz Guiney’s exhibition Precious Nothing opened at Craft Victoria last Wednesday. It’s a virtuosic display of inconsequentiality. The installation in Gallery 3 consists of a series of alcoves housing cast gold impressions of worthless detritus, such as blue-tack, coffee cup buttons and dust. The contrast between the almost religious exhibition design and the profane subject is quite powerful.

In the catalogue, fellow jeweller Roseanne Bartley talks about Guiney’s work as a connection to place:

The nothingness of which Guiney speaks does not refer to an emptiness or lack but rather it is a way of looking into a space and discovering value or substance. 

Caz Guiney is profiled in Craft Unbound as a liberator – someone who subverts the hierarchy of common and precious by putting the gallery into the street. In this case, though, she puts the street into the gallery.

Image: Pinpin, 18ct yellow gold, cast from safety pin found in Swanston St, Melbourne, 2007