Renee Bevan and Harrell Fletcher

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About Renee    About Harrell

14th December 2015 Well they say time flies when your having fun … Handshake2 certainly has flown by!

Firstly THANK YOU Peter and Hilda; having created this project and given us this opportunity has been truly invaluable. What other project allows someone to handpick their mentor and specifically cater this selection around what they would like to get out of this experience. Peter/Hilda you dedicate your lives to these projects and give everything without expecting anything in return … your generosity is tremendous!

Thank you Creative New Zealand. Projects like this could not happen without your support.

Thank you to all my fellow Handshakers; its been a tremendously fun journey to travel with you all.

Thank you Ben Lignel. Handshake Masterclass excellence!

Thank you to those of you both in Handshake and in the wider jewellery community that have offered invaluable feedback. To have this has been a gift – thank you!

And to those of you that did not even know were engaging in conversation … Martin Creed, Warwick Freeman, Cornelia Parker, Jonathon Safran-Foer, Francis Alys and countless others I have chatted with along the way … Hearing what you have to say and engaging in conversataion with you (all be it imaginary) has offered tremendous learning.

Thank you Logan and Jasper, your support has been amazing.

And lastly Harrell …. THANK YOU! …. Open-minded, humble and modest; you have been so tremendously easy to talk to since day one. Immediately it felt like you understood me and with such openness to sharing and a brain like an art encyclopedia I have learnt so much on this journey.

And so I go forward knowing I must…

Trust myself

Keep researching … its feeds my brain

Remain open and look at every path along the way

Remember … there is very rarely a right answer … instead like a list of lotto numbers a work consists of million different pathways and scenarios all with their own pro’s and con’s and all leading to another set of pathways. In the end you just have to find the ones that best communicate what it is you want to say.

And lastly trust my process …. Voicing my thoughts and working through my ideas with Harrell has taught me this. This brainstorming and development of ideas is a making methodology I saw mirrored in Harrell in both his own process in making and also in assisting in the development of mine.

And so I end with some words from Harrell reflecting on his experience:

‘To me its been fun to work on these projects, I work with grad students and do something kind of similar. Its been interesting doing it with you; I’ve probably worked through more brainstorming and idea analysis with you than I have with any of my grad students. Its been an interesting kind of ongoing relationship where you will throw some information at me and your ideas in some state of development and then we will kind of together work through them and then its interesting to see what sticks for you, what you end up following up on and doing. When I am coming up with ideas and things that’s a satisfying process just in and of itself.

Likening our process/discussions and his satisfaction in this process to ‘playing a game of chess’; Harrell continues, ‘it has that kind of same mental stimulation for me. But here it is a particular kind of game that I happen to just have been involved with for a long time; a kind of strange obscure one but its an interesting one to play. Its not like we have been playing in any sort of competitive way but its an interesting process of you serving me some stuff and I get to respond to it and you get to respond back and we have this game back and forth. This back and forth becomes a volleying development of an idea and thinking of conceptual aspects as well as the real aspects like what’s going to happen with it and how does that manifest. Its been a fun and satisfying experience for me to do that.’

So thank you Harrell … what a great game of chess it’s been! Playing this game with you has been tremendously insightful and is a gift I will carry forever. What a tremendous chess partner and game it has been! Handshake?!


12th December 2015 The final Handshake2 show opens at The Pah Homestead in Auckland on Monday night and runs until 14th February 2016.

And so here it is … my final work for Handshake2.

cropped aparation object (#1)

Renee Bevan, Apparition Object (#1), 2015. Made in association with a persons former belongings this chime, constructed with melted estate jewellery, plays on the concept of psychomerty. Psychometry is a belief that an object can reconnect with the spirits of its pervious owner(s).

8th December 2015 I think it might all be about making the unknown known … then I change my mind …. a better description might be to make the unknown still unknown

25th October 2015

artist talk aag

1st October 2015 Harrell and I discuss my plan for the final Handshake2 show

I talk about the idea of wanting to make jewellery become music, make jewellery sounds. I like this idea that jewellery might speak.

I like the idea of working with estate jewellery and the ghosts/echoes of its past.

I mention the notion of Psychometry; a belief that an object is imbedded with its past, that it can spiritually reconnect with its former owner(s), that these objects can tell stories.

We discuss the concept of melting down one thing and transforming it into another.

I think about Cornelia Parker.

Harrell mentions Pedro Reyes.

I consider the fact that energy is never created nor destroyed – it just shifts.


Pedro Reyes, ‘Palas por Pistolas’, 2008

In exchange for appliance coupons an amnesty of 1527 guns are gathered and taken off the streets of Mexico. These are then melted down and transformed into 1527 shovels. These shovels are then distributed to art institutions and public schools in which adults and children engage in the planting of 1527 trees. Here an agent of death becomes and agent of life.

30th September 2015 After chatting about the concept of dilution and the notion that it would not matter how big or small the proportion, in essence it is still there; Shelley mentioned homeopathy … this lead me straight to google … needless to say this took me straight to Wikipedia

(fragments of text below taken from

homeopathic dilution is a process in which a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken in a process called “succussion”. The founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion activated the “vital energy” of the diluted substance,[1] and that successive dilutions increased the “potency” of the preparation

30th September 2015 What a great experience! … Talk: Martin Creed; Auckland Art Gallery

‘Talk: Martin Creed’ glows on the large auditorium screen … Martin looks up … its like a command. A command from above!

martin creed

Creed’s work deals very honestly with feelings; feelings of sentiment, vulnerability, uncertainty, and emotion. I love its honesty; purity; its simplicity; I love that the work while simple are incredibly complex; how they always manage to present opposites.

Tonight lots of people laughed. I laughed too. But alongside this joy and lightless I also felt extremely heavy and sad. At times I wanted to cry, though based on the laughter in the audience I am not sure anyone else did?

Creeds work has the unique ability to present opposites – these are present in his works both physically and conceptually.

‘Everything is going to be alright’. Really?, you say this like I need reassurance, like everything is going to be all wrong. But no I tell myself … Martin says everything is going to be alright. It becomes a game in my head – I never know where it ends. Will it be alright; will it be all wrong? I need one of those neon signs!

creed neon

When describing other neon wall works like the words pictured below, Creed talks about the decision to make the word illuminate letter by letter and that he wants to make the word sing … BEAUTIFUL!

martin creed things

Martin Creed … you are great!

28th September 2015 I love Martin Creeds work for hundreds of reasons …. Here are a four

Martin Creed ‘makes visible something that is normally invisible’

Martin Creed ‘does the minimum possible in order to produce an effect’

Martin Creed makes the inanimate animate

Martin Creed makes work that is alive

25th September 2015 Earlier this week I done a fantastic workshop with British Silversmith David Clarke. Here are a few reflections ……

Normally I’m a bit of a workshop addict but I knew this would be extremely challenging based on my current making methods. In the past to sit at a table with some materials and bring them together into an object was not foreign, this after all was how it all happened. To find myself in this situation now is a real challenge – those visual responses of material form, colour, scale, etc… that would at times lead a work now sit heavily in the back seat and are redundant without strong rationale, reason, idea and content. Sure I did have reason and content in the past, its just that visual cues played a much bigger role in driving things in a particular way.

Reflecting back on it I can see in trying to find clarity around my process I was pushing my thinking to the edge, making statements that claimed these edges, claiming an apposing path.

Challenged by this process of making my response was …. ‘I don’t want to work with materials. I want to make with the immaterial, to make with something non physical.’

Reflecting on this I can now see more clearly what I was trying so hard to say….. You see the power / essence I am trying to capture in so many works recently all rests in things that are immaterial. This is not to say that materials are not at play here but the essence of what I try to capture is non physical, immaterial, invisible. Take for example the ‘Renee Bevan necklace’, or the blessed and cursed ‘Absent Presence’ work. Then there is the ‘The Rubber Band Project’, ‘Premonition #1’ and most recently ‘Apparition Object (#1)’. All have physical aspects but what they really try to capture, what is the essence of the piece, what is the ‘piece’ has no materiality, cannot be seen, is non physical.

And more reflections from this workshop experience …. 

If David was to reveal his superpower it would be that he can ask really pivotal questions …..

So here are a few questions by David to the group … some I answer below…..

DC – ‘what’s more important the object or the object from the object’

RB – ‘the object. A replica of the object can never beat the actual object … unless of course you have got something more to say’

DC – ‘why is the body important?’

DC – ‘would you put that object in your will?’

RB – ‘now your talking …. I want to make these kinds of objects …. Brilliant!’

DC – ‘is the process more important than the finished object?’

DC – ‘what do you want to do tomorrow?’

RB – ‘not work with a material’

And a few DC statements….

DC – ‘trust yourself for serious critiquing of your work’

DC – ‘what is not important; what is not relevant; what don’t you want to do …. this will help you find your answers’

As well as a few statements/thoughts/ideas and reflections that popped up in my own head over this time…

RB – ‘I like that it cannot be repeated the same ever again. It is direct. Its stripped back to its essence, all irrelevant information has gone. That it is an expression. Its reduced. It holds gesture, holds an action; holds an emotion; it holds the trace of an experience.’

RB – ‘Is the object more ‘alive’ if it has the potential for change’

RB – ‘I don’t want to make a souvenir of something; I want to capture the real thing’

RB – ‘its not about what you can see. I am interested in all the things you cannot see’

RB – ‘what does the invisible give you that the object does not?’ … ‘you cannot grasp it; its out of reach’

RB – ‘I want something more than the object’

RB – ‘I want the object to have meaning’

RB – ‘I think I prefer the direct; without the object’

RB – ‘I want to capture the essence’

DC to RB – ‘don’t dismiss physical things. Be careful not to deny access to your work’

RB – ‘I want to make … expression, documentation, suggestion, essence, a moment’

RB – ‘Is my language wrong?’

All in all the experience though challenging was great!… It clarified what drives me, the terrain I want to explore; helped me reflect on where I am at and what I am trying to do …. Thank you David Clarke …. (and thank you too …. Kelly, Viv, Sarah & Caroline …. our afterschool chat was just what I needed!)

11th September 2015 Two great shows coming up …..

otto kunzli the exhibition

Screen shot 2015-10-02 at 2.51.35 PM

10th September 2015 Harrell’s piece from Handshake2 Mentors and Mentees, Avid Gallery, Wellington

Harrell Fletcher, Untitled, 2015, 100 US pennies scattered in the Gallery and the street/footpath outside/surrounding the Gallery

There was a period of time in my life, a couple of years in my late twenties, when I got a little obsessed with finding lucky pennies. The pennies had to be found face up on the street or sidewalk and I would always put them in my right hand back pocket. Somehow I felt like things would only go well for me when I was in possession of one of these pennies, so I was always on the look out for them. At times when something important was about to happen or I was waiting for news of some kind I would frantically walk around looking for a face up penny, and would only relax when I found one. Eventually, I decided that the practice was going too far. Objectively I didn’t believe in superstitions, so I decided to break my lucky penny habit. It took a while but eventually I did, and so far there have been no major changes in my fortune one way or another

– Harrell

Harrell Fletcher, Untitled, 2015, 100 US pennies scattered in the Gallery and the street/footpath outside/surrounding the Gallery

9th September 2015 Opening thursday night!

fresh invite info

8th September 2015 My work currently on show as part of Handshake2. Mentors and Mentees, Avid Gallery, Wellington

The Rubber Band Project

Renee Bevan, The Rubber Band Project, 2015 (ongoing) A project in response to author Jonathon Safran Foer and the quote from his novel ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ ‘Also, I designed a pretty fascinating bracelet, where you put a rubber band around your favorite book of poems for a year, and then you take it off and wear it.’

Microsoft Word - The Rubber Band Project.docx

rubber band project grid Renee Bevan, The Rubber Band Project, 2015 (ongoing), A project in response to author Jonathon Safran Foer and the quote from his novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, ‘Also, I designed a pretty fascinating bracelet, where you put a rubber band around your favorite book of poems for a year, and then you take it off and wear it.’

30th August 2015, 2pm. Renee Bevan necklace Live performance worn by a participant. Auckland Art Gallery; as part of the exhibition Wunderruma.

Screen shot 2015-09-01 at 10.36.26 AM

20th August 2015 Information on upcoming performance. 2pm, Sunday 30th August. Auckland Art Gallery, Level 1. Join Renee Bevan for a performance of her Renee Bevan Necklace.

Renee Bevan Necklace copy copy

15th August 2015 ‘Instead of trying to make art objects in a studio by myself and then offer it out to people through galleries in various locations, I am able to shine a spotlight on the culture that already exists in the places where I live and work.’ Harrell Fletcher

8th August 2015 ‘WHEN AN ARTIST STEPS OUT OF THE STUDIO, the possibilities for artwork are endless’ For Harrell the ‘community becomes the artist’s muse, teacher, and collaborator’. Harrell Fletcher

28th July 2015  How do I make the invisible visible while still retaining its invisibility? … How to make the intangible slightly more tangible and retain its intangibility?

27th July 2015  Excerpt taken from the series ‘Billy Connolly’s Big Send Off’ … ‘Its good to dabble in the unknown. You’ll never know what you find there’.

24th July 2015  Excerpts taken from BBC Richard Dawkins Series ‘Sex, death and meaning’

Gambling plays into ‘humanities deep sealed belief that we can prevail over chance’….‘Our brain insists on seeing order, meaning and pattern even when there is none… it’s a very human characteristic to fool ourselves that we are in control’….‘We see patterns where there aren’t any and that’s just the way our minds work’.

‘For centries human eyes could see clearly no further than a few miles. Telescopes enabled our eyes to leap outwards and see distant stars millions of miles away. Even better than that the telescope is a kind of time machine. Because it takes light so long to reach us from a distant star when you look at a distant star your looking backwards in time; maybe hundreds of millions of years…’

‘Were lucky to be born, we win the lottery just in being here at all, your unique identity is the result of one sperm amongst hundreds of millions fertilizing one particular egg in one particular sexual exchange and the same lucky break had to favor your ancestors in every generation back to the very beginning of life’.

And an excerpt from Poet John Keats’s “Lamia” where he highlights the beauty of retaining the unknown ….. ‘Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, 
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow…’

23rd July 2015 

Renee wearing jasper (colour correction)

Renee Bevan, Jasper brooch, 2015, Photograph/Performance

20th July 2015  Discussion of work that features in the exhibition Wunderrūma: New Zealand Jewellery at The Auckland Art Gallery. Curated by Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch; Wunderrūma was developed and toured by The Dowse Art Museum, with the support of Creative New Zealand and the Museum of New Zealand. 

10th July 2015  Premonition #1 currently on show as part of the exhibition Handshake 2, Stanely Street Gallery, Sydney. This exhibition coincides with the 16th JMGA (Jewellers and Metalsmiths Group of Australia) conference; edgesboardersgaps.

Renee Bevan Premonition #1 - colour adjusted

Renee Bevan, Premonition #1 (Schmuck 2015), 2014, Install image

Images below: as installed above left to right premonition #1 _Page_1 premonition #1 _Page_2 premonition #1 _Page_3

premonition #1 pg 4

Renee Bevan, Premonition #1 (Schmuck 2015), 2014, Part of an ongoing series of works in collaboration with psychic mediums.

15th June 2015  When the object moves. Can objects be performative, active, alive?

parker, twenty years of tarnish

Cornelia Parker, Twenty years of tarnish (Wedding Presents), 1996, two silver plated goblets

A collaboration with an object. A collaboration with time.

25th May 2015  Fragments from the book ‘Lost, stolen or shredded’… ‘Sometimes the true significance of things lie in their absence.’ ‘He collected absences. For him they were more intense, vibrant, and real than the presences they shadowed.’ ‘There is after all something wearying, predictable and banal about knowing things.’

10th May 2015  ‘Objects speak a language, they tell you who they are and how they were made’ Edward Maeder.

25th April 2015 Earlier this week I took part in a fun and interesting project One’s own trade. Curated by Hannah Dangerous-Goods and Harriet Stockman, the artists write… ‘For one weekend only, one’s own trade brings together works from 40+ Contemporary Artists with the intention of trading/exchanging the art works with anyone who would like to offer their service or an object of their choice in return’. Ones own trade ‘One’s own trade exhibition is situated in The Crate, two containers on Auckland’s busy waterfront, a site of global trade and exchange. One’s own trade is interested in a more individual exchange, a swap for object or service. With this type of exchange a more personal transaction occurs. If you like a piece of artwork in the exhibition come along and bid on the work with anything but money!! You could offer to mow someone’s lawn for a month, or bake them some cakes. Swap your vintage tableware, pot plants, offer a 2 night stay at your batch, yoga lessons, your professional help or other fabulousities for a piece of your liking. Every bid is collected, collated and is given to the artist. The artist will then choose a bid of their liking and the exchange will occur.’ The exhibition runs April 23rd – April 27th at The Crate, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland.

Renee Bevan – One’s own trade – Trade: Renee Bevan, Hug Collector, Brooch

Renee Bevan, The hug collector copy

Trade offers:

ones own trade bids

15th April 2015  Words I keep repeating in my mind…. I want to make work in a light and nimble way

30th March 2015  Schmuck 2015, Munich  Every year, like locusts to honey or wildebeasts to the watering hole, the contemporary jewellery herd swarms on mass to the German city of Munich. They come for Schmuck, a cluster of exhibitions and events that take place each March as part of the international Trade Fair. The Olympics of ornament, the Venice biennale of cerebral bling, Schmuck is a great opportunity to take the pulse for contemporary jewellery.’ (

One of my Schmuck highlights … a series of Seed necklaces from Nicola Scholz

Screen shot 2015-04-19 at 5.11.18 PM

Nicola Scholz, Necklace (detail), 2013, Seeds of Belladonna, Gold.  (Belladonna is one of the most toxic plants. All parts of the plants contain tropane alkaloids. The symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include dilated pupils, loss of balance, hallucinations, delirium and convulsions)

5th March 2015 More on arts action hero’s…… Allan Kaprow did not want the happenings preserved. They were ment to be fleeting and non-repeatable. Kirk Varnedoe said documenting the happenings would be ‘like trying to catch the wind in a butterfly net’

3rd March 2015 Lately I have been reading a bit about the merge between art and life and the ‘Happenings’ of New York, 1958-1963. When discussing the likes of Jackson Pollock and other American action painters in his 1952 ARTnews essay Harold Rosenberg writes … ‘At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one american painter after another as an arena in which to act …. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event …. The new painting has broken down every distinction between art and life’.

Jackson Pollock painting in his studio on Long Island, New York, 1950.

Jackson Pollock, Painting in his studio on Long Island, New York, 1950.

Action shot of Yves Klein ‘body paintings’ of the 60’s

Yves Klein ‘body paintings’ of the 60’s

Yves Klein

Yves Klein ‘body paintings’ of the 60’s

30th February 2015 Making distilled work …. the art of reduction …. Blaise Pascal, the great French Philosopher with his final words in a letter to a friend …”My apologies for this letter being so long. Had I had more time it would have been shorter.”

16th February 2015 Another beautiful planetary work … this one by Lenka Clayton and part of her ‘Motherhood’ series.

lenka clayton, moons from next door

Lenka Clayton, ‘Moons From Next Door’, 2013, A collection of found, chewed balls (once belonging to dogs) re-imagined and photographed as planets.

15th February 2015 Earlier this week we were given the fantastic opportunity to do a masterclass workshop with Ben Lignel. Needless to say, this was great! One of the weeks briefs asked that we create an audio guide to sit alongside a work of our choice. Below is my audio guide for Cornelia Parker’s 1999 series ‘Einstein’s abstracts’. This audio guide is based on one of my favorite science facts.

Parker, Einstein's Abstract's

Cornelia Parker, From the series ‘Einstein’s abstract’s’, 1999, Applying microscopic magnification to Einstein’s relativity blackboard, Parker transforms the minute gestures buried within Einstein’s equations into images which evoke the cosmos and the universes deep sense of the undiscovered, unknown and wonder.

Audio guide for Cornelia Parker, ‘Einstein’s Abstract’s’: “The human brain has more connections than the number of atoms in the universe”

5th February 2015 Reflecting on my new experience of being a mother I ponder a few works which were introduced to me some time back by Harrell and my dear friend Sarah Read.

Roman Ondak, Teaching to Walk, 2002

Roman Ondák, ‘Teaching to Walk’, 2002

Blurring the boundaries between art and life Roman Ondák declines the use of mediatory tools and brings life directly into the exhibition space. For the duration of the exhibition, ‘Teaching to Walk’ invites different mothers into the gallery and asks them to help each of their childern take their first steps. Evoking a short-lived but essential moment in the life of a human being, Ondák wants us to discover this instant not by representing it but by involving us in it.

Lenka Clayton, ‘Maternity Leave’, 2011, Skype-based Durational Performance

‘On the 23rd April 2011 Lenka Clayton gave birth to Otto in Pittsburgh, America. For the first year of Otto’s life Clayton is on maternity leave. Maternity Leave is a durational performance that takes place in the artist’s home and is transmitted via live-streamed audio to the artist’s traditional place of representation; the gallery. A white plastic baby monitor on a plinth emits the cries, babble, and distant domestic audio world of the newborn’s room. The host institution pays the artist the equivalent of the “Maternity Allowance”, the government subsidy she is eligible for in her home country, England’

1st February 2015 So if you haven’t heard Logan and I just had our first child – a beautiful wee boy named Jasper, born 06/01/15. Reflecting on this beautiful life changing experience and also my role as a maker I rediscover this text below by Lenka Clayton … and so I say what she said….

clayton statement

Lenka Clayton, ‘Artist Residency in Motherhood’, Sep 2012 – May 2014, durational project,

…. and consider how I can ‘gently’ allow each role to inform one another?

21st December 2014 While researching Hamish Fulton I discover this …

Hamish Fulton, Walking souviner

Hamish Fulton, Walking Artist, Artwork/souvenir made from walk

20th December 2014 Harrell and I discuss a walking piece I have in mind and reflect on some historical walking works.


Richard Long, ‘A line made by walking’ 1967

Screen shot 2015-04-03 at 7.52.52 PM

Hamish Fulton, Walking Artist

Screen shot 2015-04-03 at 7.53.54 PM

Hamish Fulton, Walking Artist

The Green Line, Francis Alys

Francis Alys, The Green Line, 2007 (Alys walks the invisible Green Line while dribbling paint between the Israel and Jordan boarder)

12th December 2014 How does one paint emptiness? Robert Rauschenbergs Erased de Kooning, realised in 1953 with de Kooning’s consent, took Rauschenberg one month to erase.

Rauschenberg erased de kooning

Robert Rauschenberg, ‘Erased de Kooning’, 1953

9th December 2014

Install photo of ‘Absent Presence‘ alongside works by Sarah Walker-Holt (centre) and Kathryn Yeats (left) from Handshake 2, Toi Poneke Gallery, Wellington

2014 HS2 Toi Poneke 02

22nd November 2014

Absent Presence‘ exhibited as part of Handshake 2, Toi Poneke Gallery, Wellington, 22nd November – 13th December 2014

Renee Bevan, 'absent presence', 2014

Renee Bevan, ‘Absent Presence’, 2014

Renee Bevan, 'absent presence', 2014, detail 1

Renee Bevan, ‘Absent Presence’, 2014 (detail)

Renee Bevan, 'absent presence', 2014, detail 2

Renee Bevan, ‘Absent Presence’, 2014 (detail)

Renee Bevan / Absent Presence / 2014 Does the ‘life’ of the object lie in that which we cannot see? In the non-material, the invisible? In a world and discipline heavily consumed by aesthetics and materialism I am intrigued by value systems that transcend material and aesthetic worth. Wanting to make work that is ‘alive’, work embedded with ‘life’ is not an easy task for a maker of new things. When this ‘life’ has everything to do with the life the object has ‘lived’ and the people or events it has connected or encountered along the way, how does one make something ‘new’ carry with it the weight of the ‘past’? How does one make something ‘new’ carry with it too the weight of the ‘future’? How can one make something carry such weight, such life and only this? How can the ‘new’, the ‘invisible’ suddenly carry ‘life’, suddenly become ‘alive’?

1st November 2014

When does an object become meaningful? In discussing the work ‘Absent Presence’ made to be shown as part of the upcoming ‘Handshake 2’ show Harrell tells me about the following work by Tom Friedman. 1,000 Hours of Staring (1992-’97) is a large piece of white paper sealed under glass. The materials identified on the wall label are “Stare on paper.”…… Perfection!!!

Tom Friedman. 1000 Hours of Staring (1992-1997)

Tom Friedman. 1000 Hours of Staring (1992-1997)

16th October 2014

‘My reaction was to insert a story into the city rather than an object. It was my way of affecting a place at a very precise moment of its history, even just for an instant. If the story is right, if it hits a nerve, it can propagate like a rumor. Stories can pass through a place without the need to settle. They have a life of their own. If the script meets the expectations and addresses the anxieties of that society as the right time and place, it may become a story that survives the event itself. At that moment, it has the potential to become a fable or an urban myth. I’ll always try to keep the plot simple enough so that these actions can be imagined without the obligatory reference or access to visuals – the story of the mouse that was freed in the storage space of the largest collection of contemporary art in Mexico (Mouse 2001), or the guy who pushed an iceblock until in melted down completely (Paradox of Praxis I) – something short, or round and simple that it can be repeated as an anecdote, something that can be stolen and, in the best-case scenario enter that land of minor urban myths or fables’ – Francis Alys Interview; Russell Ferguson in conversation with Francis Alys. From the book, Francis Alys, Phaidon Press, Page 25/26. I sometimes think of this as a kind of small story or fable of my own – ‘the girl who tried to wear the world’

Renee Bevan, 'The world is a giant pearl'

Renee Bevan, ‘The world is a giant pearl’, 2012

20th September 2014

Making jewellery through collaboration. Making jewellery in a different medium. Making jewellery through song. Tihei Harawira Jewellery Rap Piece for dropbox

14th September 2014

Yesterday I was fortunate to be able to attend a very engaging and insightful day of talks/discussion centered around participatory art practice hosted at the Auckland Art Gallery.


The symposium began with a inspiring talk by keynote speaker Jeanne van Heeswijk. It then went on to address an number of topics: activating publics, uncommon actions, negotiating space and place, modes of engagement and the complexities of interaction.

Unfortunately my hand was not quite capable of keeping up with the words and thoughts as they floated in the room. Here is an attempt to highlight some of the topics/points/ideas raised.

 Notes from paper by keynote Jeanne van Heeswijk.

  • ‘How can I be an instrument’
  • The artist has to decide who to serve
  • Sometimes projects can take 10 years because it takes 10 years to get the public to engage
  • what is the ‘use’ value in art?
  • how can an artist work with their skills in the city?
  • ‘most of the art that comes out is not mine and I am very proud of that’
  • at what point do you withdraw, let it live on its own, in its own way?

And a few more interesting topics/points that were raised/jotted in my book from the day.

  • How can one develop and practice the skills of engagement?
  • In considering other forms of capital (ie social capital, relational capital); how can we measure these so to help better understand/engage with them?
  • There is the potential for practice to bring publics into being, to create publics
  • How one might consider the concept of not making together but instead making ‘together work’
  • Asking oneself critical questions such as; why are we doing this?, what are the ways art is engaging and creating publics?, what can we learn from place/each other/community/share expertise/experience?, how can participation/non or un-participation be productive?

11th September 2014

Francis Alys on making, collaboration and the process of surrendering or retaining control through the collaborative process. ‘The collaboration process is to watch an idea bounce back and forth, and eventually develop its own course in that bouncing. The project starts with a mess of notes and drawings, incidental quotes and documents, and usually out of that process the medium defines itself spontaneously. At that stage I start looking for specialists in that specific medium to enter the project, and their translation of the plot automatically reshapes the original concept. The more the project evolves, the more this bouncing back and forth between myself and the collaborators intensifies, and it can lead to a final shape sometimes quite far from the original intention. It’s in that process that the project takes on its own life and develops. The more ambitious the logistics of the project, the more I will turn into a producer or a coordinator of the project and, when it happens, a spectator of my own fantasy.’ ‘And then there are all the other ingredients of the live event. Once the axiom has been posed and the location set, the development and outcome of the piece happen within an open field of possibilities, in the sense that any outcome of the event becomes a valid answer to the premises of the piece. Once the action is launched, there is no longer and strict or unilateral plan to be followed, Only the actual course of the action itself will provide a response to the preliminary axiom. The only constant rule I have witnessed is that if the storyline – the plot proposal – is clear and strong enough, it will resist all these mutations. The situation will unfold in a way not unlike what your intuitive expectations were. It is the test of the scenario. If the scenario does not hold, the action will deviate and become something else.’ Interview; Russell Ferguson in conversation with Francis Alys. From the book, Francis Alys, Phaidon Press, Page 25. Collaboration is an important part of my practice. Below are two collaborative projects, the first ‘an idea’, an ongoing project with Jhana Millers, currently on show/activated by Zoe Brand at The Personal Space Project, Canberra. The second a copy of the publication from a collaboration with artist Caryline Boreham shown earlier this year in Auckland. if you close your eyes you might hear us anyway 30th July 2014

Looking into the Portland State University Art and Social Practice programme where Harrell is professor I discovered a blog from his undergraduate class/fall of 2009. Here I discovered the beautiful work ‘Touching 1000 People’ by Diane Borsato.


touching 1000 people, performance intervention and photographs, montreal:vancouver, 2003

Diane Borsato, ‘Touching 1000 People’, 2001/2003 Performance intervention and photographs, Montreal/Vancouver

Borsato explains … ‘I read a study that suggested that when people are subtly touched, it can affect their behavior and well being. For a month I went out of my way to delicately bump, rub past, and tap 1000 strangers in the city. I touched commuters, shoppers, cashiers and taxi cab drivers on the street, on the metro, in shops and in museums. The exercise was like a minimalist performance. I was exploring the smallest possible gesture, and how it could create an effect in public.’ The action was performed for one month in various locations in Montreal in 2001, and repeated for ten days across the city of Vancouver in 2003. (

This same week I had been pondering another beautiful image discovered online.

found on atpdiary

23rd July 2014

Harrell and I have a conversation about the ‘Renee Bevan necklace’

'Renee Bevan necklace'

Renee Bevan, ‘Renee Bevan necklace’, 2012

Harrell introduces me to the beautiful work of Martin Kersels and his series ‘Tossing a Friend’.

Martin Kersels, Tossing a Friend (Melinda #2), 1996

Martin Kersels, ‘Tossing a Friend (Melinda #2)’, 1996

kersel_tossing_a_friend (Alan) 1996

Martin Kersels, Tossing a Friend (Alan), 1996

Using the body as the material, Kersels talks about wanting to do something that is direct ‘it goes back to what is the most direct thing that I have, and that’s my body. Then my body in relation to other bodies…’ (

wearing myself as a bracelet

Renee Bevan, ‘Wearing myself as a bracelet’, 2012

22nd May 2014 Picture 2

The medium

Harrell and I have a conversation around shifting mediums. We both feel strongly that the medium should be selected around what best serves the idea/project. If the work is best served through a different medium then it is important to do this. Harrell explains ‘Look at a project based on its own conditions, then determine what the outcome should be/what discipline it should be carried through’

The lens

Harrell raises the idea: ‘When viewing a specific work, what lens do you view this from?’ Is it a sculptural lens, performance lens, a contemporary jewellery lens?

It dawns on me; the contemporary jewellery lens is a very specific one, a very specific lens to make from. It is an unusual lens to view the world through.

I shift my lens. I stop and consider how some works might be read by others. By those unaware of the contemporary jewellery world?

Considering the potential to shift and change lenses I slowly imagine the first lens, second lens, third lens that could be employed by the viewer? I ask myself, if it is not easily recognisable as being wearable or jewellery when does the jewellery lens enter into the audiences thought process? How does this effect the reading? Does this matter?

I now can’t help but see things through glasses; can’t help but imagine pulling out a new pair of specs to see the world through.

15th May 2014

This blog is a series of notes, reflections, research and investigations from conversations with Harrell and a few others along the way…

Reflecting on the medium of jewellery in our imaginary first conversation Harrell considers jewellery as … ‘very intimate, like getting a new nose or something’… A few jewellery noses immediately spring to mind!

Otto Kunzli, Who nose, 2001-2012

Gerd Rothmann, The Golden Nose, 1984


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