Tag Archives: Craft ACT Design and Craft Centre

Innovation and Technology meet at CRAFT ACT

Embracing Innovation Volume 6, by the LFW team

What happens when artists and specialists from technical and academic fields embrace innovation? Magic; that’s what!

Ten examples of wonderful collaborations are being exhibited now at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. Embracing Innovation Volume 6 is truly fascinating with some projects involving up to 15 artists and experts.

Lego like edu toyOne example is a Lego-like, hands-on assembly educational toy, designed to help Australian children learn Japanese. It’s the result of a cross-disciplinary research project involving a linguist and industrial designers. The result is rectangular 3-D printed paper pieces imprinted with images, Japanese words and phonics. Using colours to guide the sentence structure, the pieces simply click-and-connect; making learning fun.

Silk Scarves

Silk Scarves

Also inspiring is the work by Canberra-based textile artist Jennifer Robertson. If you look closely at Jennifer’s scarves, you’ll see that they have thin lines of stainless steel running through them. Jennifer has hand-woven the scarves on a digital loom. While the mention of stainless steel conjures up images of a hard, heavy and rigid matter, the scarves are soft, light and warm. You can shape them in any way around your body or create your own sculpture to display at home.

Felt clutch

Felt clutch

The artists and specialists behind the works displayed are from various counties including Australia, Canada, England, and Japan. Young fashion designer Tamara Efrat is from Israel, and she’s teamed up with experts from the School of Computer Science at Hebrew University to create patterns using computer algorithms. She then uses traditional smocking embroidery and parametric tools to create thick felt clutches and handbags based on the patterns.

typography workJenny Judge, who has lived in the southern and northern hemispheres, uses photogrammetry to create sculptures reflecting geographic formations in Whistler, Canada, and Matapouri, New Zealand. She walks in nature, tracking topography and then scans it onto the computer. Next she manipulates it; 3D prints sculptural shelves, and sets on the shelves colourful cast-glass objects.

This is the sixth in an annual series hosted by Craft ACT.  Mel George from Craft ACT, who curated the show, says each display is an intriguing example of innovation in the creative arts, focusing on craft and design.

Embracing Innovation Volume 6 Exhibition

is on now until 27 August and is not to be missed.

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Understanding the Black Box

Life, walls and houses, by Wendy Johnson

In the presence of one's home. Judi Elliott. Glass. H 30 cm. x W 18cm. 2014. Image credit: Rob Little. Never been shown in Canberra.

In the presence of one’s home. Judi Elliott. Glass. H 30 cm. x W 18cm. 2014. Image credit: Rob Little. Never been shown in Canberra.

It’s hard to imagine that the Aussie invention, The Black Box, used to record every nanosecond of an aircraft’s flight, has inspired beautiful pieces of art created out of glass. Canberra artist Judi Elliott, has been inspired by this flight data recorder. Her new solo exhibition—Black Box: Life, walls and houses—showcases how this piece of complex technology can be seen as a metaphor for life. Black Box: Life, walls and houses, on now at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre, is a ‘must-see’ exhibition.

Judi is a distinguished and highly acclaimed glass artist. She’s ‘one of ours’, working quietly out of her studio in the suburbs of Canberra. Judi was the very first glass graduate from the School of Art (now Australian National University) Glass Workshop. That was in 1984 and the artist has been practicing for more than three decades, with her work included in prestigious Australian and international collections.

(Two small houses) Judi Elliott. On our Street 1.  Height 19cm x 19cm. Cast cut and assembled glass. On our street 2, Height 19cm x 15cm. Cast, cut and assembled glass. Image credit: Rob Little.

(Two small houses) Judi Elliott. On our Street 1. Height 19cm x 19cm. Cast cut and assembled glass.
On our street 2, Height 19cm x 15cm. Cast, cut and assembled glass. Image credit: Rob Little.

Black Box: Life, walls and houses includes colourful, three-dimensional houses Judi has created of glass. For Judi, the houses reflect ‘life’ and the phases we all experience as we grow up, love, get educated, work, gain experience and move.

Photo by Edge Light Photography

Photo by Edge Light Photography

Judi was inspired to create this themed exhibition after pondering what The Black Box is, what it does, and how it works. Hailed by many as one of Australia’s top 10 inventions, the box records from take-off to landing. It begins its cycle again on the next journey. For Judi, this is very much akin to the cycle of human life. Judi is also inspired by our relationship with the built environment, especially the work of architects. Her colour palette is vibrant and The Black Box is represented in this exhibition by black dots appearing in the glass.

Judi’s creative process is fascinating. She produces full-scale drawings and then cuts individual pieces of glass to size from each one. Judi next uses her signature, technical glass style to cast, cut, fuse and assemble each house. Judi is a 2016 Hindmarsh Prize finalist and has been an Accredited Professional Member of Craft ACT since 1999.  She’s exhibited her work in Australia and overseas since the 1980s.

Photo by Edge Light Photography

Photo by Edge Light Photography

“Judi is a trail blazer who was in the first intake into the glass workshop established by internationally renowned glass artist Klaus Moje at what is now the ANU School of Art,” says Rachael Coghlan, Chief Executive Officer of Craft ACT. “Under Klaus, she learned kiln-formed glass techniques, which she’s been working with and adapting since.”

This exhibition was curated by Mel George, Curator Craft ACT, who has more than 20 years’ experience in the craft and design sector and more than a decade in curating exhibitions and mentoring emerging artists and practitioners. Mel is also an award-winning glass artist.

Also on now at Craft ACT is Embracing Innovation Volume 6, an annual curated showcase which this year captures innovation in the creative arts. It showcases international, national and local designers. Lostfourwords will write about this exhibition soon, so stay tuned.

Photo by Edge Light Photography

Photo by Edge Light Photography

Both Black Box: Life, walls and houses and Embracing Innovation Volume 6 run until 27 August and are free to the public. Visit Craft ACT’s brand new website, which includes opening hours.

No Waste—No Worries

When we’ve finished the last drop in a plastic milk carton, we don’t hesitate to chuck it in the trash. It is, after all, useless waste. Or is it? By Wendy Johnson

Niklavs Rubenis sees value in plastic milk cartons, and food tins and worn out clothing (sometimes ripped or torn), and he uses these existing materials to create new and meaningful objects. A local designer-maker, Niklavs gives milk cartons and tins a second lease on life by making them into functional lighting—like the ones showcasing in the Crafting Waste exhibition now on at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre.

While Niklavs lives and breathes design, he’s more interested in the broad impact it has on the world. “We need to work in new ways, think in new ways and interact with the world in new ways,” says Niklavs. “The world is consuming itself very quickly. As a designer, I have to ask if I need to buy new materials to create with, or if there’s another way.”

thumbnail_niklavs_rubenis_headshot_colour 3715(small)

This new body of work sees Niklavs, also a lecturer at the School of Art at the Australian National University, reverse the design process. “I’m trying to work in a more responsible and aware manner because there’s already too much ‘stuff’ in the world,” he says. “I start at the end and work in reverse to anew.”

This philosophical approach also sees Niklavs create anew from items he randomly stumbles across, like the rusted metal bench frame he picked up while driving his ute one day, which he has transformed into a new piece of furniture that will last for many more years. Niklavs used old floorboards and wood from a bookcase, warped and split from rain, to construct a new seat for the frame. This innovative piece is also featured in Crafting Waste.

LL Bench Seat, Niklavs Rubenis, Found objects and materials. Photographer: Halie Rubenis.

LL Bench Seat, Niklavs Rubenis, Found objects and materials. Photographer: Halie Rubenis.

It may come as a surprise, but waste is a growing issue right here in the capital. Our population is growing so we produce more waste. We love to have the latest and greatest and so discard items, including televisions and computers, without thinking of what this does to the environment, and we lead busy lives and so opt for wasteful purchasing, such as single-use containers. But is it the right way to go? Niklavs doesn’t believe it is.

Craft ACT’s new Chief Executive Officer, Rachael Coghlan, says Niklavs is part of a new wave of practitioners in Australia using craft to make strong statements on social issues. This is also reflected in another exhibition on now at Craft ACT. Aesthetics in the Time of Emergency, features new works by five Melbourne glass-based artists who share a common vision around environmental issues requiring our attention, such as climate change and nuclear disasters.

“Australia’s contemporary craft culture is transforming,” says Rachael, who brings more than 20 years’ experience working in national cultural institutions to her new role. “These artists have all created beautiful works, applying their skills and using materials to tell stories. It’s exciting, eye-opening and well worth exploring.”

Craft ACT, London Circuit

Craft ACT, London Circuit

Both Crafting Waste and Aesthetics in the Time of Emergency run from 27 May to 9 July at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. They’re free to the public. www.craftact.org.au

Painting with Parkinsons

By Wendy Johnson

Cards say so much. They can be funny. Consoling. Just plain lovely. A beautiful handmade card—with or without words—is all the more special when painted by someone using art as therapy. So when I was told by Halie Rubenis, Business Development and Retail Manager at Agency in Braddon, that the beautiful cards I was buying for Christmas were the result of an innovative art program called Painting with Parkinsons, I felt quite emotional.

You see, everyone wants to make a mark in life. Indeed, in so many ways it’s all about the mark. And making a mark is precisely what a group of 12 Canberrans with Parkinson’s do when they gather to paint.Parkinsons 3

Painting with Parkinsons Canberra was founded at the end of 1994 in the Botanic Gardens by artist Nancy Tingey, an Accredited Professional Member of Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre (since 1996). Nancy wanted to combine her role as a community artist and art curator with caring for her husband Bob who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 46.

Bob has been part of the group since the beginning and was the youngest member when he joined. He draws on past experiences to paint and so it’s no surprise his art often makes reference to geological formations. Bob had led a busy life as a geologist, working in many countries and making seven journeys to Antarctica.

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition that affects people from all walks of life. It’s sometimes called a ‘movement disorder’. So why encourage painting? Painting is successful because it’s a magical unravelling of a series of steps.

“You create a mark on the paper. Then you create another mark. And another,” says Nancy. “It’s almost a linear process and people with Parkinson’s can cope with that quite easily. What they can’t cope with is a whole lot of stimuli presented at once.”Parkinsons 2

Today, Painting with Parkinsons is recognised as one of the most effective art therapy programs in the world. Many who paint discover inner talents and abilities. Bob’s hand moves involuntarily, for example, but this goes away when he paints. “Although he had never painted before, he took to it like he did any other activity in his life—with great enthusiasm and energy,” says Nancy.

The group produces work that is shown in exhibitions, which Nancy says is extraordinary and wonderful. Bob’s painting Light was featured in the United States Parkinson’s Disease Foundation calendar for 2013. Katrina Muir, diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 55, first attended the Canberra group to observe, but soon found her work being used as a logo to promote the GOLD dance group at the Canberra Dance Theatre. “Painting with Parkinsons is a place where I can just be myself,” says Katrina. “I don’t have to explain my symptoms to anyone and am treated with much respect. I feel treasured for the person I am.”

Art helps group members lose themselves in their work, which takes their minds off the illness. Ann Nugent—who worked as a teacher, writer, editor and theatre critic—was diagnosed with Parkinson’s some years ago. She says painting alleviates her symptoms and encourages her to experiment with her art.

Halie says Agency has just received a whole new range of cards by Painting with Parkinsons. The cards are also available at the Handmade Shop. And Painting with Parkinsons will be the first exhibition group to showcase at the new National Disability Insurance Scheme building. Seven works will be exhibited for about three months.Parkinsons 1

For more information on Parkinson’s Disease visit http://www.parkinsons.org.au/

Construct—with Phoebe Porter

By Wendy Johnson

Phoebe Porter doesn’t have much time to sit still these days. This contemporary designer, who works out of her studio at ANCA, has recently just finished a major exhibition at e.g.etal contemporary jewellery and objects in Melbourne. She’s made a selection of new pieces for Bilk Gallery’s annual Christmas showcase (on until 24 December). She is getting ready to be involved in a project for the National Gallery of Australia to celebrate the work of renowned Australian sculptor Inge King. And she will be hosting an open studio as part of DESIGN Canberra, under the festival’s Living Artists program.

Phoebe Porter_Phoebe Porter_Line earrings

Phoebe Porter_Phoebe Porter_Line earrings

During DESIGN Canberra (21 to 29 November), head to Dickson and meet Phoebe in her studio where you’ll get to connect with the artist and see her work, including pieces from Construct, the name of the exhibition she held in Melbourne.

You’ll marvel at how Phoebe, beginning with her training at art school here in Canberra, has developed a unique working process combining traditional gold and silversmithing techniques with Computer Aided Design and industrial processes. So it’s no surprise her latest collection is called Construct. “I use a combination of traditional techniques such as sawing, hammering, filing and soldiering as well as more industrial techniques such as machining, pressing and anodising,” says Phoebe.

Phoebe Porter_Folded earrings

Phoebe Porter_Folded earrings

The jewellery in Construct plays with contrasts—of colour, material and scale. Bright colours contrast with soft grey tones of stainless steel. Natural materials contrast with machined, manmade alloys. Large elements contrast with small.

“The DESIGN Canberra open studio is an opportunity for me to connect directly with my audience who are often a step away from me when I sell through a gallery or a shop,” says Phoebe. “My studio is not usually open to the public, so this is a rare chance for people to see how I develop my work from start to finish—from design development, through sketches, models and templates, and through  to fabrication of the final pieces.

“Many people have a deep fascination with the tools and processes I use in my studio, perhaps partly due to nostalgia for a time where we made more things by hand. I have a vast collection of tools, including jewellery making tools, vintage workshop equipment and some custom tools I’ve developed specifically for particular designs.”

Phoebe Porter_Cantilever and Cubist rings

Phoebe Porter_Cantilever and Cubist rings

Phoebe believes contemporary jewellery inherently embodies all of the themes of DESIGN Canberra—Connect, Create, Collaborate. “Jewellery is about connections … whether it’s connections between people or connections between different ideas embodied in the work,” says the artist. “Jewellery has another life after it leaves the studio or the gallery when it becomes part of the wearer’s life and narrative. In that way there is a special sort of collaboration between the maker and wearer of a piece of jewellery.”

If jewellery is your passion, you’ll be delighted that Phoebe will be holding a sample sale on the day of her open studio, giving visitors a rare opportunity to buy unusual pieces from her archive—pieces not available elsewhere.

Phoebe Porter_5 Grams and 7 Grams necklaces

Phoebe Porter_5 Grams and 7 Grams necklaces

Besides Phoebe, ANCA (Australian National Capital Artists) will feature several other Living Artists’ open studios in both its locations (Mitchell and Dickson), covering various genres. Oliver Ayrton, Peter Giles, Sui Jackson, Dan Lorrimer, Keith Marshall, Ruth Oliphant and Alice Sutton will host open studios. They’re all free and drop-ins are welcome.

Bettina Hill, ANCA Arts administrator, says the Australian National Capital Artists was built in the 1990s mainly because Canberra didn’t have too many spaces for artists to have their studios. “ANCA was built as affordable, professional spaces where artists can be in a community, so they can work together and get support from each other. That’s what we strive for still today,” says Bettina.

Today, ANCA is home to around 40 artists and it also operates a gallery. DESIGN Canberra’s Living Artists program is about getting you involved and providing you with an opportunity to watch artists create work, discuss pieces and more.

ANCA Living Artists open studios is on Sunday 22 November from 2 – 6pm at 1 Rosevear Place, Dickson (where Phoebe is), and 96 Hoskins Street, Mitchell. For more info and to view the Festival program visit www.designcanberrafestival.com.au

 

What’s Buzzing in Canberra?

So what’s all the buzz about during DESIGN Canberra? By Wendy Johnson

Big picture, it’s about getting you connecting, creating and collaborating with the capital’s hugely talented artists, architects, craftspeople and designers around ‘all things design’. And that includes the festival’s unique DESIGN Buzz series.

Not quite a lecture and not quite a debate, DESIGN Buzz is an exciting opportunity to discuss big questions facing the world of design. Held over two nights (Monday 23 November and Tuesday 24 November), this is your chance to hear from some of the best in the design industry … experts with a deep understanding of what design means to our everyday lives. What it means for our sense of place. For our future. For our sense of well-being.SONY DSC

So here’s how it works.

DESIGN Buzz features two topics per night and two or three speakers per topic (some local, some from across Australia and some from overseas). Each has a short time to present thought-provoking ideas. Then the moderator throws the discussion open to the audience for a vibrant Q and A session. Craft ACT, which is bringing DESIGN Canberra to the capital, says this year’s DESIGN Buzz is, well, buzzier than ever. It’s designed to be energetic. It’s designed to get you involved.

And the topics you ask?

DESIGN Buzz_ Jeremy Lepisto

DESIGN Buzz_ Jeremy Lepisto

Me → We (Session 1, Monday)

How important is collaboration when creating works for the public realm? How does it work?

Join glass artist Jeremy Lepisto (Canberra) and collaborative partners Lynda Roberts and Paul Gazzola (Victoria) who will explain their approaches to collaboration in the highly diverse and challenging creative sector. Lynda manages the Public Art Program at the City of Melbourne and Paul is an artist and curator.

 

 

DESIGN Buzz - LeahHeiss

DESIGN Buzz – LeahHeiss

Living Design (Session 2, Monday)

How can design support a healthy lifestyle? What design tools can we use to improve our quality of life?

Leah Heiss (Victoria), a trans-disciplinary designer whose practice is at the nexus of art, design and science, takes the podium with Dr Liz Format (ACT), Professor of Palliative Care for Calvary Health Care and the Australian Catholic University. Liz’s research focuses on how people with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions and their relatives can find ways to cope.

 

 

Placemaking and Culture (Session 1, Tuesday)

Is there an Australian design culture? If so what’s it all about?

Join Lucy Simpson, an Aboriginal artist/designer (NSW) who focuses on storytelling and the narrative in her work, and Professor Jessica Hemmings (Ireland), Professor of Visual Culture and Head of the School of Visual Culture and the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. Jessica writes, curates and lectures about textiles and their role within culture and society.

DESIGN Buzz_Ingrid van der Wacht

DESIGN Buzz_Ingrid van der Wacht

 

Sustainable Futures (Session 2, Tuesday)

What are the future ways of designing for sustainability—the quality of life for future generations? How can you get involved?

Connector, communicator and collaborator, Ingrid van der Wacht (Netherlands), will be in Australia to talk about design as a driver for innovation, economic growth and sustainable thinking. She’ll join Peter Cumming (NSW), founder of Sustainable Futures Australia, who works with local communities on creating sustainable housing.

 

DESIGN Buzz is far from a passive event. Design is all around us. Learn more. Have your say.

The Buzz: Monday 23 November and Tuesday 24 November 2015 at Ainslie Arts Centre from 7pm. More info at www.designcanberrafestival.com.au

Tom Skeehan’s Stellar Exhibition!

TomWendy Johnson chats with Canberra furniture maker and designer Tom Skeehan about his craft and upcoming first solo exhibition Thought – Process at the DESIGN Canberra Festival.

You may not realise it, but chances are you’re already familiar with the work of industrial designer Tom Skeehan. Been to the new XO restaurant in Narrabundah? The chopsticks were designed and produced by Tom’s studio called Skeehan. Been to 86 in Braddon to dine? The stools are by Skeehan. Same with some of the café stools at Barrio. Skeehan also worked on the fitout for Remedy Espresso Bars.

Stools by Skeehan

Stools by Tom Skeehan

Beyond the world of wining and dining, Canberra toasts Skeehan for being the first from the ACT to be signed by prestigious Stylecraft, which gives the studio instant access to local, national and international buyers of meticulously designed and produced furniture, lighting and other interior products. Skeehan’s new collection, Hoshi, a Japanese word meaning (loosely) ‘star’, is also available for viewing at his first solo exhibition at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre. Tom is an Accredited Professional Member and Thought – Process, which officially opened last week, is a sneak peek to the quality of design you can expect throughout the upcoming DESIGN Canberra festival (21 to 29 November).

Thought - Process Exhibition by Tom Skeehan

Thought – Process Exhibition by Tom Skeehan; image by Charlie White

Skeehan studio specialises in commercial furniture, lighting and product design. The Hoshi collection includes a single seated chair, three-seater lounge, coat stand and side table. Working with his hands is in Tom’s blood. His dad is a furniture maker and carpenter who has lived in Canberra for 40 years. “I grew up drawing and tinkering on the job site,” says Tom, who has a drawing by Alex Lundy of his dad’s wooden mallet on his Facebook page.

Skeehan in workshopWhen it came time to study, Tom landed at the Canberra Institute of Technology in the art design program. He then worked with mentor Craig Harris making fine furniture for two years in a workshop in Fyshwick. “I realised I was a maker at that stage, and not a designer, so I went to the University of Canberra to study industrial design,” says Tom. “After a short stint in Sydney I set up Skeehan.”

Thought – Process is all the more fascinating because it includes a ‘process wall’ showcasing the design journey from initial sketches to polished products. Material samples, tools and prototypes all inform the experience.

“The process our studio goes through to create a product involves a series of formal stages,” says Tom. “I think the most important stage, and the one I enjoy the most, is prototyping. This is when an idea is at its biggest and when you’re constantly refining it and pushing the limits.” Tom is currently in Denver, USA, to teach a furniture design class at Metropolitan State University, but he’ll be back in time for DESIGN Canberra.

Process Wall

Process Wall

For the festival, Tom will host a special workshop for children aged 8 to 12 years to open up exciting visual journeys into the world of design drawing. During Drawing our City Tom will get kids exploring, through drawing, some of Canberra’s most exciting architectural elements and next up, the kids can extend their sketches by building simple objects with paper.

Avi Amesbury, Craft ACT CEO/Artistic Director, says DESIGN Canberra increases awareness of our vibrant and diverse craft and design community. “Thought – Process and the children’s workshop offer opportunities for audiences to engage direct with the creative process,” says Avi. “The festival is all about connecting, creating and collaborating.”

Thought Process Exhibition, photo by Charlie White

Thought Process Exhibition by Tom Skeehan; photo by Charlie White

Thought – Process is on throughout DESIGN Canberra (free to the public and drop-ins welcome). Drawing our City is on Saturday 28 November at Craft ACT from 1 to 3pm. It’s also free but bookings are essential (online at craftact.org.au). Check out the full program at www.designcanberrafestival.com.au