Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jam Packed talks to Julie Blyfield about her upcoming exhibition in GalleryOne, which celebrates 20 years of making by one of Australia's most renowned jewellers

Tell us about yourself, how did you become a jeweller?
I knew I wanted a career in the arts after my schooling, I trained as a secondary school art teacher in the late 1970's.

It was during this fabulous course at Teachers College that I learnt the basic skills in jewellery making (as well as many other things such as printmaking, painting, drawing, photography) and I was hooked on making small scale work! I am a keen gardener and I enjoy planting, 'snipping and sweeping' as a way of relaxing and changing my focus.

Which jeweller, craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?
I find a lot of people, books and travelling to remote places inspiring, but in terms of metal workers, I would mention people such as David Huycke, a Belgium metalsmith who makes beautiful, classic work. International jewellers such as Peter Bahuis, Helen Britton and Lucy Sarneel have all inspired me at some time. Frank Bauer, a German silversmith and designer who lives here in Adelaide taught me new skills in raising metal from flat sheet into three dimensional forms. Frank was very generous in sharing his knowledge and skills with me when I worked alongside him in his studio in 2003 to learn these skills.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?
Every Christmas we head down to Kangaroo Island to relax, swim and wind down at the end of the year. So I decided that I would base a new collection of work on the coastal plants collected from beach walks and plants of the sea. I didn't really want the work to be a literal translation of what I collected or photographed but rather reflect the 'feel ' of the coastal vegetation and the colours of the locations.

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?
Yes there are many Museums that have inspired me including the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, UK as I love the hand written labels and the density of the display with every case full on interesting artefacts. I also enjoy visiting the South Australian Museum for its wonderful collection of Indigenous artefacts and Pacific Island collections. While I was a resident in the UK on a jewellery exchange project in 2003 I visited the Natural History Museum in London and the Herbaria in Cambridge and Edinburgh where I studied plant collections.

Welcome us to your studio - where is it?
In Adelaide. I work from my own independent studio after working as a partner and access tenant at Gray Street Workshop for 23 years from 1987 - 2010 where I worked in an open plan studio alongside many other emerging and established jewellers in a shared studio environment.

The work for the exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?
The exhibition reflects 20 years of my practice from 1990 - 2010 so it encompasses personal responses to my own family history and reflections on Adelaide's history when I worked as a volunteer on a local achaealogical dig in the old market area by East Terrace.

It also looks at the history of jewellery, specifically focusing on the work from the 1850's in the Victorian Era.

The exhibition shows my passion for gardening and interest in Museums and collections where I made work inspired from an old album of pressed plants collected in the desert around 1900. This album is now housed in the South Australian Museum Archives.

Describe your method of production in this current work?
I use the technique of 'chasing' which is a process where annealed silver metal is supported in 'pitch' (bituminous material) I hammer to texture my silver sheet with small steel tools before soldering. In commencing my work I often photograph, sketch and make paper maquettes to assist me in making decisions about the forms and designs I will make. In this way I can be free to cut, paste, staple paper together quite quickly and spontaneously to resolve the design process and avoid wasting expensive materials. I always recycle as much as possible in my making process.

Julie Blyfield: Contemporary Jewellery and Objects 1990 – 2010
5 February – 20 March
Opening: 4 February at 6:00pm

Monday, January 17, 2011

Jam Packed talks to Metal Design Studio Creative Director Christian Hall about the Gilles Street Primary School Project

Tell us about the project at Gilles Street
The project is an Artist in Residency program at the school where members of the Metal Design studio (Creative Director Christian Hall and Associates Hannah Carlyle and Peta Kruger) work at the school on two main projects. The first to develop a range of artist-made toys and the second a series of workshops for staff and students based on the theme identity and exploring sculpture through the accessible medium of jewellery and the body, and growing across larger scales and sites. The aim of the residency is to provide an inclusive sculptural experience that is international in scope for students, teachers and artists.

What are the major benefits of training students as young as 11 years old about design thinking? Future growth - The core idea that is central to this project is that these students are active participants in the creation of their own material culture – now and in the future.

By working with young students and allowing them access to “design thinking” + the creative development of their own concepts then to see these concepts realised as professional outcomes manufactured to the highest degree of finish we aim to plant the seed for future growth in these individuals and the design sector. This project may be the spark that ignites a passion that sees one of our students go on to become an architect, artist, designer etc.

Application to other areas – Students can draw upon the problem solving skills and lateral thinking experienced in “design thinking” and find application for these skills in other area of the school’s curriculum. Design is not just about the creation of things but about developing a self defined process for thinking through problems. This process has broad application. 

Inclusivity - Design a pre-linguistic, open ended and semiotic form of expression that transcends boundaries of age, race and gender. The medium is perfectly suited to create an inclusive and playful learning environment, especially for the diverse group Gilles Street Primary School – Gilles St Primary supports a New Arrivals Program which makes up one third of the schools population. Over 40 different cultural groups are represented. Working with “toys” and 3D sculpture is the ideal vehicle to encourage enquiry, interaction and play between artists, students and teachers.

What do you hope that the students themselves will learn from or take away from the project? 
Through this program I would like to see each student develop a connection with one or all of the artists involved that they can draw upon in the future. This connection could be a direct resource for the students; a way of gaining knowledge, information and insight into contemporary practice, or an in indirect resource; the experience serving to demystify the creative process and profession.

In addition to this, by developing the students concepts to a professional manufacturing and presentation benchmark we are aiming to help students will realise their own potential for excellence beyond limits previously imagined. We want them to be excited about art, craft and design practice
What personally do you enjoy about being involved? 
Working with the school, with the staff and students forces me to re-evaluate my own creative practice and the profession generally. The students are so honest in their response to projects and work and their approach to their own making can be very surprising. Where students find challenges and opportunities in the creation of works is very different to artist working at a professional level but the process is the same. Seeing students overcome blocks and the go on to stretch and play with ideas so freely is great. It is very invigorating because it’s essentially the same

Seeing this process occur for the associates involved in the project is also great. The challenges they face working in the educational context and in particular with young children, are very different to those in any other area of their practice. I feel they gain a much better and more holistic understanding of their own motivations by being involved and I can see that when they have worked at the school they feel satisfied and excited by the experience.

On the whole I feel that a whole other area of what we do is valued in this project, and we feel valued by the students and staff. It’s a very enjoyable experience overall.
 as process as my own with different constraints, only I never know what the students are going to value or why. When I ask them the answers can reveal a surprisingly sophisticated grasp of the world and that makes me think that the partnership between a school and a professional arts organisation, between student and artists, can bare real fruit. I am excited about what the marriage of the students ideas and view of the world and our technical, professional and creative know how can do together! In a way this is teaching me to be allot less precious about my own approach.

Gillies Street Jam is showing in the Atrium from 5 February - 13 March


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Daniel Emma announced as winner of Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery award 2010

The 2010 Bombay Sapphire Design Discovery Awards night was held at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday 15 December, announcing Daniel Emma as the winners of the top prize for their ‘Basics Collection’, a range consisting of brass paperweights, a pendant light, magnetic paperclip tower and mirror.

Awarded annually, the prize consists of $30,000 in cash and a trip to Milan to attend the international design fair ‘Salone del Mobile’ in 2011. It is judged by experts in the industry and recognizes outstanding work by emerging Australian designers.

Judges described Daniel To and JamFactory’s Emma Aiston as “the complete package,” with work that reveals “a proactive independence of spirit, brand awareness, great interaction with their end-user and a reliance on local production.”

The work of all ten finalists will be included in an exhibition in early 2011.