An Amazing Body of Work!

Bodywork: Australian Jewellery 1970 – 2012

It’s on and it’s worth a visit. A fascinating exhibition, Bodywork: Australian Jewellery 1970–2012, has opened its doors to the public here in the capital. This unique and must-see travelling exhibition showcases the work of 42 of the country’s most influential, contemporary jewellery designers. By Wendy Johnson.

 

Sunrise and shade, brooch 1981, by Elizabeth Olah. Using sterling silver, 18 carat gold, porcelain, and opal National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

Sunrise and shade, brooch 1981, by Elizabeth Olah. Using sterling silver, 18 carat gold, porcelain, and opal
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

Bodywork has worked its way through five states, inspiring and intriguing thousands of visitors, and has now come home for its last show. Even though the collection is owned by the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), the exhibition is at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, as part of its outreach program. Each piece of jewellery in Bodywork was hand-selected by Dr Robert Bell AM, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, NGA, who wanted to ‘inspire, intrigue and inform’. The work is beautifully displayed in six specially designed cases.

And Canberra can hold its head high. Four jewellery designers from here were selected for Bodywork; Robert Foster, of Fink + Co, Simon Cottrell, Head of the Gold and Silversmithing Workshop at ANU, both Accredited Professional Members of Craft ACT, and Helen Aitken-Kuhnen and Johannes Kuhnen of Bilk Gallery in Manuka.The jewellery is grouped under six themes— Romanticism, Interpreting the Vernacular, Encapsulating Nature, Technics, Social Message, and Sculpture for the Body. All pieces come from the NGA’s jewellery collection, which is the largest collection in the country.

Sheep, pendant c.1979 sterling silver, carved quartz by Eléna Gee National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

The diversity of design, materials and technique used to design and create each piece in this stunning collection is fascinating and so too is the short film featuring Dr Bell, which provides deeper insights. Pieces include brooches, arm bands, lockets, rings, bangles, and pendants created out of a wide range of materials such as gold, sterling silver, copper, coral, aluminium and polypropylene.

 

Image left: Sheep, pendant c.1979
sterling silver, carved quartz by Eléna Gee
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Crafts Board Collection donated by the Australia Council 1982

 

 

Some pieces will take you by surprise, like Brenda Ridgewell’s Space edifice armband (2002), made of silver and carat gold. Brenda’s jewellery is architectural in form and often articulated and adjustable, allowing it move with the body.

Brenda Ridgewell Space edifice, armband 2002 by Brenda Ridgewell, using 925 silver and 9 carat gold National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2003

Space edifice, armband 2002 by Brenda Ridgewell, using 925 silver and 9 carat gold
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2003

The superb Ocean blue necklace, by Canberra’s Helen Aitken-Kuhnen, is made with finely crushed glass mixed with other materials to form a paste. The glass paste is then put into a mould and heated to fuse it together.

Ocean blue, necklace 2009 in sterling silver, cast glass pâte-de-verre, and stainless steel by Helen Aitken-Kuhnen National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2009 with funds from the Meredith Hinchliffe Fund

Craft ACT was a natural fit for the last show of Bodywork. “The National Gallery and Craft ACT are both the same age, having opened in the 1970s,” says Dr Bell. “Craft ACT has been part of the national scene for a long time. It’s appropriate that Bodywork’s final showing is in its home town and with our friend CraftAC.”

 

Image right: Ocean blue, necklace 2009 in sterling silver, cast glass pâte-de-verre, and stainless steel by Helen Aitken-Kuhnen
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased 2009 with funds from the Meredith Hinchliffe Fund.

 

 

 

Bodywork: Australian jewellery 1970–2012 is on until Saturday 24 October 2015.

Also showing at the same time at Craft ACT Gallery is Table Tools, a solo exhibition by gold and silversmith Alison Jackson, who is also Craft ACT Accredited Professional Member.

 

Advertisements

One thought on “An Amazing Body of Work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s