Monday, March 4, 2013


Christian Hall Creative Director of JamFactory’s Metal Design Studio talks with Alice Potter about her latest collaborative project.

Alice Potter knows a little something about creative collaboration! In her part-time role as Production Manager at JamFactory’s Metal Design Studio Alice works with a talented team of JamFactory Associates on the design and manufacture of bespoke commissions and studio products. While the manufacture of studio product often relies on repetition skills training, it is the one-off commission works the studio takes on for adventurous clients that really allow for creative collaboration. As an equal contributor and coordinator in these projects Alice is no stranger to the challenges and joys of mixing it up with other creative minds. But does the collaborative experience make its way into her practice as a contemporary jeweller? If Alice’s latest project is any indication, the answer is yes!

Bumpy Hotcake
Mixquisite is an exhibition of South Australian Jewellery that opened at Gallery 2017 in Sydney on Saturday 16th February. While being a group exhibition that draws together jewellers from three influential Adelaide venues; Gray Street Workshop; JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design and Gate 8, Mixquisite offers something other than a survey of works for the six contributing artists. Rather than working to showcase the individual practice of each artist Mixquisite is a thoroughly collaborative project that obfuscates the individual for the sake of the group. Through a contrived process of “blind” collaboration each of the 36 pieces on show has been authored by all of the artists involved.
Twisting Sea
Initiated by participating artists Alice Potter and Lisa Furno, Mixquisite has involved the contribution of Hannah Carlyle, Kelly Jonasson, Lauren Simeoni and Leonie Westbrook. The title refers to a collaborative process the early surrealists called ‘le Cadavre exquis’ or Exquisite Corpse, in which one artist would start a drawing and the next would continue with the composition and so on until the work was complete.
Of the Mixquisite project Alice and Lisa state;   “All six contemporary jewellers have distinct design styles and use a widely diverse palette of materials. With an enthusiasm to experiment and specialised making skills, each of the artists has produced exciting contributions to each of the pieces. The outcome of this one-off collection of collaborative jewellery works is an exciting and unknown prospect.”

Trout Texting
Mixquisite is just one of a number of exhibition projects of late that have challenged artists and designers to move out of their comfort zone and respond with agility and flexibility to a process that is outside of any one individual’s control. What is it that compels the contemporary jeweller in particular to depart from individual practice and participate in collective projects? Are there aspects to the medium that make it more conducive to participation? Such as the prevalence of collective studio environments, the easily managed scale and portability of the work produced and the inherently social nature of work made to be worn.  What is it that really lies at the heart of the collaborative impulse? Why not ask Alice? Mixquisite ran in Sydney through to March 2nd 2013, and will show in South Australia...SOON!   

Alice Potter, Lisa Furno, Kelly Jonasson
Bold and The Runway

Have you been surprised by the exhibition outcome?
This concept was always going to have an unanticipated result so in one way I wasn’t surprised by the diversity of work that was produced, but I also in turn was pleasantly amazed with the breadth of experimentation undertaken by each jeweller. Each of the works is uniquely different to any other, and I enjoy watching the guessing game the viewer partakes in trying to speculate which artist did what element to the piece, as often our materiality was influenced and inspired by the other makers in the project.
Indigo Flip Flip

How did you arrive at the titles for each work?
The way that the names of the pieces came about was through a very similar process to the making. Each of the participants wrote down six nouns and six adjectives or verbs. We put them in a hat and drew out one verb/adjective and one noun for each piece to form its title. There wasn't really any other way we could decide on what the works should be called, and it only seemed appropriate that these decisions should also be made through an arbitrary process.

Dog Paddling Custard
What was the most challenging part of the project?
For me as an instigator and ‘co-team leader’ of the project, I found the logistics around the constant process photography, delivering the work between studios and making sure everyone had their rounds finished on time the most challenging part! Although having said that, it was exciting to see everyone’s enthusiasm at the start of each round and each piece’s development in between. Also challenging was having to contribute to a work that you were unfamiliar with, whether it be its existing materials or a forced experimentation with unusual types of construction.
Juz'n Racecar
Will this project be a continuing project or do you see it as a one-off?
Lisa and I hope to continue this project, with plans to tour the exhibition in South Australia, Victoria and maybe even in New Zealand. This concept is quite unique so it would be ideal to exhibit the work for as long as possible.  
Flower Chiming

What challenges will a touring exhibition pose for the collaborative partners?
Because each of the works is quite idiosyncratic to anything else in the show, as well as being able to be purchased at all the exhibition venues, we will have to replace the sold works for new pieces. Obviously no new piece will ever replace the aesthetics of the existing items, so each time the project exhibits it will be a unique collection of pieces. I believe we’re all looking forward to the opportunity to create more collaborative works, so the more you buy the more we will make!

What is it that attracts you to collaboration?
I enjoy working with others, and I enjoy the sense of shared satisfaction when a project is complete. There is a risk involved with trusting someone else/others with something that you have had a part constructing, and there is also a sense of fragmented ownership with working through this method. I suppose ultimately Lisa and I really enjoy the aesthetic and methodology of many jewellers in our community, and inviting the other four talented ladies into the project was a great way to work with them and share all of our different visual influences with each other. And at the end of the day, it’s always nice to have someone to cheers with.