or ‘Art for Foodies’ by Wendy Johnson
It’s not every day that a famous chef, restaurateur and judge of a multiple award-winning television show gives the big tick to the work of a Canberra artist. But that’s what MasterChef’s Gary Mehigan did this week for the gorgeous pieces in Table Tools, a special exhibition by gold and silversmith Alison Jackson. And a mighty big tick it was, with Gary saying Alison’s new work is ‘the ultimate art collection for foodies’.
It’s no surprise when you think about it. This is Alison’s first solo exhibition and she is destined to become a star. “It only took me seven years to get around to doing an exhibition,” she says. “It’s amazing that it’s now here.”
The exhibition features about 48 high-end pieces, made from materials such as fine silver, silver, copper, brass, and steel wire. Alison has created spoons of varying shapes and sizes, scoops, pouring vessels, whisks, bowls and more. Each piece has been handcrafted using traditional and intense silver smithing processes and techniques, both of which require a high level of skill. Alison starts with a flat sheet and hammers the metal over many stages and through many processes to create a whole new form.
While it takes oodles of time and patience, this rather primitive process is near and dear to Alison’s heart. “It’s a way for me to explore different ideas and processes that are ticking over in my head,” says the artist. The result with Table Tools is a series of one-off designs that will be treasured by those who ultimately own them, forever and a day.
Alison describes all of her work as simple, refined and pared back. Don’t be fooled, however. This is contemporary work that is highly functional, and beautiful. “I create for people to use my pieces every day,” she says. “They’re great for special occasions, but not just for special occasions. And they’re made to stand the test of time.”
Mel George, Curator and Exhibitions Manager at Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, says Alison’s work doesn’t just happen. “Her work is informed by research and she’s extremely focused and dedicated to her art, fusing traditional silver smithing handcraft techniques with contemporary industrial processes,” says Mel. “Alison is intrigued by the way people interact with their objects as well as how objects shape a space, influence an environment and become part of experience.”
While all pieces in Table Tools have names, Alison doesn’t want to dictate how they should be used. “Pieces are designed to be flexible. I want people to be inspired by their imagination and not restrict themselves to one use,” she says. “I want the objects to transform everyday experiences—like eating out of a bowl—into something special.”
Alison works full-time out of her own fully equipped silversmithing workshop, called Pocket Studio, where she also teaches short courses. She studied at the Australian National University School of Art, Gold and Silver smithing Workshop, working part time at Australian contemporary design firm, Fink and Co. Alison has also spent six months studying in Germany at the University of Applied Sciences, Gemstone and Jewellery Design in Idar-Oberstein. She has exhibited throughout Australia and Germany. Table Tools was made possible in part because of an Australia Council 2015 New Work Grant and artsACT project funding.
Alison has also just produced two new lines of jewellery, available at Agency, Ori Building, Braddon, along with some of Alison’s more permanent range of tableware and cutlery. You can explore Alison’s work on her new website: www.alisonjackson.com.au
Table Tools opens tomorrow at Craft ACT: Craft and Design Centre and runs until Saturday 24 October.
Table Tools—11 September to 24 October, Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre, Level 1, North Building, 180 London Circuit, Canberra City. Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm. Saturday 12 pm to 4 pm