I’ve come back to making after a long hiatus for motherhood. The Handshake 2 project offers an opportunity to accelerate my practice. More specifically, to re-establish a sustainable and enduring practice regardless of the day to day requirements of children. With an exhibition opening in just 3 weeks, my nervousness has increased tenfold after attending Benjamin Lignel’s talk Patch up and Pump up: on Exhibiting Contemporary Jewellery at The Dowse. He posed some interesting questions that might take me longer than 3 weeks to answer, first port of call is my mentor, Kirsten;
What are exhibitions for?
What story do they tell?
Who are they for?
I’ve been playing with my working and idea development process. I pin my work (it’s usually flat) to boards. The active board holds the materials and ideas I’m currently working with and that still have potential to be part of something. The ‘not sure of it’s use/still need it in sight just in case’ board holds the other work. As the body of work develops, individual bits move between the two boards. Kirsten says to consider the negative spaces.
18th July 2014 – Harvey Benge.
Harvey Benge is a New Zealand photographer who lives in Auckland and Paris. His photography is inspired by anything that attracts his attention while walking in the city. http://harveybenge.com/ These are some I love:
20th July 2014 – My first show of the year.
You’re invited to The National in Christchurch for the opening:
Image: Sandy Connon
19th July 2014 – Joint show/collaboration benefits.
Images follow for my part in the show at The National in Christchurch – Penumbra/Antumbra. For more images (including Becky Bliss’ excellent installation) go to: https://www.facebook.com/267537602004/photos/a.10152301503067005.1073741832.267537602004/10152303227637005/?type=1&theater images taken by Caroline Billing. My part in the show is titled Antumbra, which refers to one of the three distinct parts of a shadow – namely the full ring appearing around the edge of an eclipsing body as demonstrated during an annular eclipse.
This show was a joint show/collaboration. Caroline Billing paired Becky and I because she thought our jewellery could work well together not realising we were already friends. It was collaborative in the sense that we worked together, but on the development of our own individual projects. We met each fortnight to work through technical or conceptual difficulties. The meetings acted as short-term targets that I worked to without being overwhelmed by the looming exhibition date. Exhibitions can be stressful and expensive, especially when you’re new back to making. The beauty of a joint show was that all the difficulties were halved and the learning doubled through the solutions worked out for both makers. We both worked around the shadow theme but our work was quite different. The installation choices we each made were aesthetically opposite, offering the work it’s chance to be distinct from the other, while for the viewer, the contrast really complemented each of the bodies of work as well as the space.
The other thing I learned was that I really need a minimum of three days to complete an install. The first day – to get something on the wall, then wonder whether there’s a better option. The second day affords clear decision making because of sleep, offering a ‘fresh view’ and the third, to finish off all the things I’d imagined I’d get done on the second day but that never happen because I’m re-installing.
This jewellery explores shadow, steel and brutalist ideas as a counterpoint to mass-production, built in obsolescence and 3-D printers.
Coming up with the artist statement was a difficult process, and while it’s a true statement, I recognise that it lacks poetry and is a bit perfunctory – an area to work on.
My exhibition at The See Here in Tory Street, Wellington is titled Temporary Loan : Collection of the Artist.
My artist statement expands on an earlier post:
The See Here is a forum for interaction with experimental jewellery practice. This work explores part of my making process. I collect materials and attach these to large boards that sit by me in the workshop. There’s an active board, holding the pieces I work on daily, and boards that hold materials or ideas that feel significant but I don’t yet know why. In the same way a museum loans out pieces of their collection to other institutions, this work at The See Here includes all of the materials and ideas that currently dominate my making and thinking. Without consciously arranging them, they often end up in an approximation of a circle, mimicking the circularity of my materials chasing my ideas and the journey in the reverse direction.
30th September 2014 – ‘Reading’ jewellery.
Playing with layout again post The See Here show and trialling ideas for the first Handshake show. I really like the spaces between each piece and how the eye darts all over, finding new things in each direction, but I’m not convinced an audience will spend time ‘reading’ the work as I would hope. Instead I’m wondering whether there needs to be a more orderly installation of the pieces to assist a ‘considered reading’ by the viewer. Kirsten suggested I reconsider my National show from July and whether lining up the work/pieces might help to encourage the audience to view my work in the way I’m hoping for.
20th October 2014 – Little families and negative spaces.
Experimenting with how to photograph my work again; little families and prioritising the negative spaces created by the edge of one piece and the next (something that Kirsten asked me to consider and something I hadn’t seen as an entity, when in fact it is now becoming as important a part of my work, as the things I actually construct).
22nd November 2014 – The first Handshake 2 show.
First Handshake 2 group show at Toi Poneke in Wellington.
The title of this work is Manifesto. And the artist statement was Artist’s statement. Detail images following.
This took me a week to install – definitely need to get faster. I’m coming to see that the install is as important as the work and that the work is not actually finished until the install is complete. I was pleased with how the work was received – it seemed that regardless of the age, gender or whether you had any jewellery knowledge or not, there was an entry point for each viewer, something that feels important to me.
4th December 2014 – Returning to roots and new materials.
I had an earlier life as part of the set painting team on a couple of movies. This week paint has been calling to me and this work is an experiment with negative spaces as well as using black, white and grey paint to create a different type of negative space. Busy week – stone and negative space. They work much better in multiples.
4th January 2015 – To add a string… or not….
I’ve been arranging and re-arranging these (beautiful to me) objects in anticipation of my next show and while I see them as jewellery because of their very definite relation to the body as tools or through their intimate size, I’m not yet sure how to turn them into something wearable (or if I even want to). I spoke to Kirsten about this and we both agreed it doesn’t work to simply add a string…. (although conveniently most of them already have holes….)
14th January 2015 – The second iteration of Penumbra/Antumbra.
Working towards my exhibition at Avid in February with Becky Bliss. It will be a second iteration of Penumbra/Antumbra originally shown at The National in July 2014. Steel and brass bangles before I cut the sprues off.
20th January 2015 – Layout, when will I get better at this?
Playing with layout – work looks jumbled. The collection needs a clear boundary or edge to frame the work. Less is definitely more and framing is something I need to think more about.
More successful, despite no clear edges and only partially in focus, possibly because the edge of the image acts a frame for the eye.
2nd February 2015 – You’re invited…
Two person show at Avid show in February with Becky Bliss.
Images from show:
10th February 2015 – Shadow.
Playing with shadow as part of the install rather than expressing this through my making. I often make flat work and shadow provides another dimension that has become important, especially with negative spaces. The fascination with shadow and negative space comes from the potential for other. The suggestion of something else, where there is possibility for multiple dialogues within and surrounding my work just through the different combinations of pieces and how I lay them out (much like different pairings of words to create entirely new sentences or ideas). The shadow consideration began during my two shows with Becky Bliss whose work was a direct investigation of shadow with the title of our shows being Penumbra/Antumbra – describing two of the three distinct parts of a shadow.
20th February 2015 – An experiment with process.
As part of the HS masterclass with Benjamin Lignell, Kathryn Yeats and I talked about our making process – where we work on many pieces at the same time in response to our mentally busy lives and time pressures, both within and outside of the studio. We both decided to make one piece from start to finish as an experiment to see how “this affects the outcome of our process, the contrast between the random connections of working in a scattered way on many different things, and the linear progression of working in an ordered way from start to finish…” (quote from Kathryn’s page – she said it so well!) I’m happy with the piece but the process really messed with my normal way of working and my productivity. I lose focus if I work on one thing for too long, wasting time between decisions and achieving the next step in the making process, so although fruitful it was also a relief to go back to working on multiple pieces at one time, and I’ll revisit the process considerations down the track.
This piece is made from wood salvaged from a local house renovation. The wood has been sectioned to find the iron bleeds created by nails over the 95 years that they played their role in holding up a kitchen wall. (Materials; Kahikatea, mild steel, paint, 24ct gold.)
28th February 2015 – Collections and combinations.
Playing with smaller collections post the first Handshake show in November. Combinations of found and made, convex and concave and mixed materials.
10th March 2015 – My precious.
Sometimes you have a piece in your head for years before you finally get around to making it. Sid’s Ned was one of those. The piece felt really important to me so every time I exhibited it I’d express my reluctance to sell it to the poor gallery owner trying to make a living. Each time it successfully failed to sell I would breathe a sigh of relief. I figured it was safe after the last showing and carefully wrapped it up to hide it in a box somewhere, happily keeping my precious to myself and feeling pleased I’d gotten away with showing it one more time, without having to give it up. Except, a man thought about it for 3 weeks post exhibition, phoned the gallery and it was all over. I quizzed Kirsten and a few jewellers about it:
I spoke to Peter Deckers; he said “Nah, just sell it”. I reminded him that he was at a different stage of his practice than I am, with his long history of making and a surer position about what should be kept and what should be sold, this provoked his memory; “Actually there was one piece in 1979 that I really wished I’d never sold and I still think about it.” Thanks Peter. I figured that I had to sell it and go through the ‘loss’ to experience that “piece from 1979” thing myself.
11th March 2015 – External is indicative of the internal.
Big mess. Three person, April, Toi Poneke show not far away, the routine is a big clean up following each show to clear the head and the physical space for new making.
4th April 2015 – Documenting, finally I’m getting somewhere.
Photographing or documenting my work has been a weak part of my practice and I committed to beginning work on it a couple of years ago. I had hoped that it was mostly just a case of needing a really good camera (photographers are allowed to laugh). So I got one, did the comprehensive course and realised, it wasn’t just the camera, the lights, the computer and the software, but at least 5 years of practice. Anyway I’ve begun, but in the mean time the following photographs were taken by Juliet Black, prior to delivery to The National jewellery gallery in Christchurch.
These are my photos from this point; bit out of focus, slightly odd colours, but getting better 1 year on!
5th April 2015 – Combinations and collections no.2.
Playing with combinations of objects and materials that complement each other specifically because of their differences – negative spaces both in and around the pieces still tie the works together.
10th April 2015 – The biggest so far….
This feels like my most significant exhibition so far. It is a three person show with Petra Stueben and Vivien Atkinson at Toi Poneke in Wellington. To listen to a review by the Director of The Dowse, Courtney Johnston on National Radio go to: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/audio/201751467/arts-commentator-courtney-johnston
Images: Petra Stueben
Silent Auction collection (greywacke pendant, wood brooches x 2, steel brooch, brass & steel bangle, brass pin) and bid sheetThis exhibition is about an exploration of our individual relationships with objects.
My part in the show is both a silent auction and a wall installation. The installation, titled Desire hath no rest is based around the Hedonic Treadmill quote below and directly represents the text “Desire hath no rest” through it’s conversion to binary digits. Once converted to corresponding 0’s and 1’s, the text was then presented as a series of greywacke stones sourced from the Wellington South Coast as the zeros, and slim sections of woods salvaged from several local Island Bay home renovations represent the ones.
The hedonic treadmill is the supposed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. According to this theory, as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness. During the 1990s, the concept was modified by British psychologist Michael Eysenck, to become the current “hedonic treadmill theory” comparing the pursuit of happiness to a person on a treadmill, who has to keep walking just to stay in the same place. The concept dates back millennia, to such writers as St. Augustine, cited in Robert Burton‘s 1621 Anatomy of Melancholy: “A true saying it is, Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill.” http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedonic_treadmill
01100100 01100101 01110011 01101001 01110010 01100101
00100000 01101000 01100001 01110100 01101000 00100000
01101110 01101111 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110011
01110100 (Binary representation of text)
The silent auction responded to the research of psychologists Matthew Killingsworth, Thomas Gilovich and Amit Kumar of Cornell University, who “…found that the average consumer derives value primarily from anticipation of purchase…”(http.//mic.com/articles/100686/science-proves-that-money-in-fact-can-buy-happiness-just-not-the-way-you-expect). The collection of jewellery was then available for purchase through a silent auction until close of the exhibition.
Viv’s start point was a Levi Strauss quote “Objects are what matter. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries something really happened among human beings.” Her response was to invite the audience to bring in their silver plated objects for her to clean during her daily performance in the gallery – with each piece cleaned came a corresponding cleaning rag pinned to the wall over the course of the show. Petra re-presented images taken by her Grandmother in Germany during WWII when Hitler promised insurance for any losses. Her Grandmother studiously photographed their prized possessions, lost shortly after during a bombing raid. Petra provided large re-prints of these 9 images allowing the visitor to choose one image and asking in turn for a photograph of the image in it’s new physical environment to be returned to her, essentially leading these objects/images on new journeys.
More info on the show (Fish Head magazine April, written by Mary-Jane Duffy)
1st May 2015 – The importance of an editing process.
I’ve started to think more about my editing process and found this youtube clip really useful. Mari Funaki talked about rather than making lots and then editing out, making the majority of the pieces and then identifying and filling the gaps with pieces that complete the body of work.
10th May 2015 – It feels successful…
Greywacke stone, my first (successful) carved slot.
15th May 2015 – Who is my audience?
4th June 2015 – Success for O: A, but questions for the self.
5th June 2015 – More from AJF.
And more from Art Jewellery Forum with a few mentions for Handshake when AJF’s Susan Cummins recently interviewed Jude Carswell from AVID Gallery Wellington:
( Article taken from http://www.artjewelryforum.org/galleries/avid-gallery)
19th June 2015 – Play at The See Here.
My latest show at The See Here is a response to rules and fun. I’ve started to feel a bit stuck. Staring at my benches and boards full of stuff I’ve both made and found that seemed only to require a string to be complete was getting me nowhere. My only rule in the studio is that there are no rules and I should have fun. So I recalled Kirsten’s VERY useful words “Kelly just get on with it” and decided to put a string on anything I felt like putting a string on. My title is Play and the artist statement follows:
29th June 2015 – Rules.
The See Here show earlier this month has clarified a few things for me. I have no rules and that play in the workshop is a fundamental and central part of my practice. I’m finding myself using the word more frequently and the following images are me playing with casting in preparation for the Peter Bauhuis workshop in Sydney. First lot failed and with the second lot I accidentally (and very cleverly) sprued them and run out of silver so they were all detached from the core sprue or tree without having to cut them away, very handy (as seen in middle pictures)!
4th July 2015 – Playing with layout.
Playing with layout for the second Handshake exhibition at Stanley Street Gallery in Sydney.
The Stanley Street Gallery exhibition was for me, a really interesting exercise in what happens when someone else installs my work. I would normally group all the works together so they can be seen as one entire piece. My layout is always dependent on the actual space – the location or relationship of corners to walls, electricity sockets, or details in the room that need to be accommodated so that the installation looks balanced and calm in it’s entirety on the wall. Having someone else install my Stanley Street show meant that the work travelled across the table at evenly spaced distances and up onto the wall. The work was not fixed down in any way apart from having been traced around with a pencil, to effectively act as a shadow behind the work. During the opening, because the work was on a table at hand height and not fixed down, people picked it up and at any one point there were only a few pieces sitting on the table out of 50. The interaction was really nice to see and made me think a bit harder about my method of always fixing to the wall, while it’s visually tight and expresses my vision as the maker, it’s a bit of a lost opportunity for the audience.
The whole show looked great with the curation giving it less of a group show feel and more of a unity. It was noted as one of the stand out shows for the JMGA conference and I was glad to have let someone else install it because I learnt new things about my work.
15th July 2015 – Wunderweek.
New work for Wunderweek in Auckland where 7 makers (including me) from Occupation: Artist (Wellington-based group of contemporary jewellers) staged a guerrilla-style occupation of the Anna Miles Gallery titled Occupy Anna.
The work is titled Gonna bes – A drawing for jewellery; alluding to the potential or aspirational qualities inherent in materials in their quest to be realised as jewellery objects with physical attachment to the body.
15th August 2015 – Another return to the roots.
Island Bay Primary School Art Auction, an opportunity to test out my rusty painting skills and finally get around to trying out a double brooch back on my larger steel pieces.
1st September 2015 – Tinker, Tailor – Kelly and Charles.
Occupy Crossley Street, at Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne, Sept 2015, 7 person show with Occupation: Artist.
For Radiant Pavilion, Melbourne’s new contemporary jewellery and object trail, Occupation: Artist staged a second occupation (the first was at Anna Miles Gallery in Auckland as part of Wunderweek). We chose non-art-related establishments, shopfronts and the streetscape of Crossley St – a classic Melbourne artisan lane (coincidentally also home to Gallery Funaki!). My work was titled Tinker, Tailor and was installed in the window of Charles Edward – Master Shirtmakers. (Note the door handle of his shop – perfect!)
Artist Statement: Charles Edward of Charles Edward Master Shirtmakers, is dedicated to a quality and tradition inextricably entwined with craftsmanship. Charles says “The perfect shirt takes time”. It’s this dedication to meticulous measuring, cutting, fitting and precise hand-crafting that particularly chimes with me; we both see the value in taking time to select materials and make choices that produce beautiful objects for intimate and individual relationships with the body.
4th September 2015 – Collaboration in it’s infancy.
I’ve begun a collaboration with Kirsten Haydon based on the development of the following ideas:
Early in the mentorship Kirsten helped me recognise that the negative spaces in and around my work are as important as the actual pieces I make or exhibit in my installations. Much like words on a page, their careful arrangement encourages my work to be read by the viewer.
Recently I began linking particular words together prompted by the way I’d titled this small dish; Wooden Receipt. Neither of the words were interesting on it’s own but when paired there was a set of possibilities that felt exciting. Receipt implies to receive, to hold, to keep etc but when coupled with wooden, it assumed a humanness, a relationship to the body greater than that of function, use or wearability. To me, these negative spaces between the words are also analogous to those between my jewellery pieces.
Wooden Receipt, 2014 (actual size)
Through exploration of the synonyms surrounding Wooden Receipt, I arrived at the words Giving. Holding. Receiving. The coupling of these words with an investigation of the concave or hollowed out shape represented by the small wooden bowl, offer possibilities to extend my making. These three words also embody the experience of jewellery for me both as a wearer, maker and member of the jewellery community. I regularly receive potential materials from people as diverse as neighbours, my children and non-jewellers in other countries who’ve seen my work and post me random things that remind them of my work. The warmth and generosity of people and the action or role jewellery can play in our lives is also reflected by those three words.
When I last met Kirsten, she gave me a piece of rusty steel (below – actual size). It was perfect, although a gift, it was something I would choose for myself. I carried it in my pocket for the rest of the week and this action and moment revealed the gift’s potential for expressing the Giving. Holding. Receiving theme – synchronicity at its most exciting. Since then we’ve discussed a collaboration where I respond to things that Kirsten and others give me. In line with the nature of giving, there are no rules around what can and cannot be included. And in line with a collaboration, we’re not sure of all the fine details, instead we’ll let them unfold with time.
25th September 2015 – Handshake 2 show at Avid, Wellington.
Handshake 2 (third) group exhibition at Avid, Wellington. I methodically de-installed my show – taking an image each time I removed a piece, prompting (second image shows de-install almost completed) the exploration of when less is actually far more. This show also made me think more about seeing the individual works as one total piece – which possibly moves away from the idea of jewellery….
20th October 2015 – A couple of Reflections since the beginning of HS.
I have three kids under 10 and had quite a long hiatus from active making due to motherhood. In this scenario, newly back to making, I wasn’t always in the best place to judge my own work – that’s what I have HS and jeweller friends for. My first show in 2014 was inclusion in Wunderruma. I put forward what I thought Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch (the curators of Wunderruma) might like to select from. I was probably hoping to read their mind(s). A trap that can easily take you away from your own aesthetic and conceptual path – even in your editing choices. As soon as I’d left the room my friends took the work I’d ‘de-selected’ out of the box hidden under the table and put it on the table. Of course that was the work they selected (below). During a recent workshop with English Silversmith, David Clarke, he told us that we shouldn’t trust our friends to give useful, critical advice “they’ll all just tell you they like it” he said. Kirsten’s support combined with my jeweller friends means that I can buck this trend. My jewellery group meets every couple of weeks in our shared workspace with specific time allocated for critique sessions, we organise mini workshops with experts in the areas we’re deficient, collaborate on occasional projects, share techniques, materials and knowledge and offer general support in whichever way is needed. The handshake project and the jewellery group (Occupation: Artist) has made my goal of sustainable making, in terms of the family/time balance, more fun, less fraught and much easier to maintain.
It’s tangential, but a good opportunity to mention my lack of experience when it comes to interactions with the media. At the Wunderruma opening at The Dowse, I was happily chatting with Kim Hill (from the Saturday morning program on National radio) without realising that she was storing my words for use in her interview with Warwick and Karl the next day. The words she stored were completely reversed and uncomfortably she used the reversed version to prompt more discussion during her interview. (Listen here: Warwick & Karl and Kim Hills’ interview). I delivered embarrassed apologies to Warwick and Karl, but it was another lesson in understanding the rules of the game that is the media. My last experience went smoother when Sarah Catherall from Stuff interviewed Amelia and I at the Avid opening of the Mentees and Mentors exhibition in September (read here: Jewellery across the miles). My subsequent reading up on ‘the rules’ (each of which I got wrong with Kim) has given me definite ideas for improvement.
The following 8 rules from this website (http://www.triticorainey.com/Eight-Rules-for-Talking-to-the-Press.shtml) sum it up succinctly and these two were good for more explanation; http://www.finaid.org/educators/press.phtml http://news.ubc.ca/services-for-ubc/media-training-services/.
How to talk to the media:
- Keep it simple stupid
- If you do not want it reported, do not say it to a reporter
- Say it in 15 seconds or say nothing at all
- Learn and live by the rules that reporters have
- Do not get angry when they get it wrong
- When a reporter asks you a question give an answer
- Do not let your love of the camera override your judgment.
One, steel, stg silver, 24t gold, 2010 (front and back)
8th November 2015 – My latest show at The See Here – Tinker, Tailor 2nd iteration.
My latest show at The See Here, forming part of a 12 week revolving exhibition from Occupation: Artist (O: A). This is the second iteration of my Tinker, Tailor install. It was first exhibited at Radiant Pavilion in Melbourne earlier this year. (Radiant Pavilion being a 6 day jewellery and object trail celebrating the many aspects of contemporary jewellery and object practice in Melbourne and around the world). Titled, Occupy Crossley Street, Occupation: Artist gently invaded and exhibited in several non-art related shop fronts and the street-scape of the classic Melbourne artisan lane – Crossley Street – which also happens to be home to the prestigious contemporary jewellery gallery, Funaki Gallery. My work was exhibited in the window of the bespoke tailor, Charles Edwards Master Shirtmaker, hence the title.
26th November 2015 – More play.
My latest playing in the workshop – wood. In the first image the ideas I’m playing with revolve around giving, holding, receiving – mentioned in my 4th Sept entry. Mostly the holding or containment part of the three words. The second image shows a collection of things currently from my desk – fails, successes, part made things, potential materials and ideas for things I hope to get to in the near future.
20th December 2015 – What’s next…
I began this project with the aim of exhibiting as much as possible to help accelerate my practice. After more exhibitions, masterclasses and jewellery travel opportunities than I could count, I feel most definitely accelerated. I’ve determined that I am my first audience, but that I have a real commitment to producing work that keeps my audience broad – and includes men. I don’t have any rules about which materials or techniques I use, but I do aim to always have fun in my making, with play having a fundamental or core role in the development process of all of my work. The last two years in HS2 have also had a really positive impact on my teaching in the Whitireia jewellery degree, being able to pass on lots of the things I’m learning is not only super satisfying for me but completely useful for others. There are more things I’ve gained over the last two years in this project than I could possibly name and I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity. Leading on from this I’ll be part of the next iteration of the Handshake programme -HS3. This project will give me the opportunity to extend and expand all the learning and my practice so far, with three shows lined up at Objectspace in Auckland, Platina in Sweden and The Dowse in Wellington across the next two years. For more info follow the new blog site at Handshake3.com
22nd January 2016 – Thank you.
The end of Handshake 2 is nigh and it feels important to reflect back across the last two years and the journey with my mentor Kirsten Haydon. I want to thank everyone who has read any of the entries on this blog, the audience that comes to see our shows and the people who buy jewellery. I also want to thank Peter and Hilda for dreaming up (and then really making it happen) such an amazing project along with acknowledging the support of Creative New Zealand and the massive crew that fill in any of the gaps to keep the project running. Lastly I’d like to thank Kirsten Haydon for coming on the journey with me, at any point when I get stuck I have a fail safe method for progressing forward thanks to Kirsten – I hear her words gently but firmly in my ear saying “Kelly, just get on with it” and it works every time!