Last week saw the opening of two exciting jewellers exhibitions simultaneously in Sydney and Adelaide. Two young Australian jewellers are featured in these exhibitions. Their work is very different, both visually and conceptually.
Jessamy pollock’s solo exhibition in Sydney, Building Jewellery, draws inspiration from Australian architecture and the built environment. She also uses aluminium and precious metals to create patterns found in nature.
Adelaide Lisa Furno, a jeweler from scrap and found objects, is the sole curator of a new jewellery exhibition featuring works by New Zealand artists. It’s called outburstsof unhinged imagination.
These two young jewellers represent a shift in generational art that is marked by increasing vernacularisation in Australian visual art, which includes jewellery.
Reject Cliched Australianness
Vernacularization is a way to reject cliched Australianness, such as references to the bush or the beach. It also means more direct engagement in urban and suburban life: art and design that reflect our daily lives and domestic concerns.
Although the approaches and media choices of the young artists are very different, both artistic works reflect this common sensibility.
Pollock’s wearable sculptures are a reflection of high levels planning, control, attention to detail, and careful attention to form. Pollock creates refined pieces that fit comfortably in the realm of fine art.
Lisa Furno, on the other hand, is bowerbird-like and uses trash and throwaway materials for tongue-in-cheek ironic work. She melts down plastics and incorporates other detritus. Furno transforms these seemingly unimportant raw materials into colorful and extravagant wearable collages, which seem to transcend the divide between fine art and popular culture.
Jessamy’s Pollock’s art, on the other hand, deliberately refers to naturally occurring patterns and repetitions such as the honeycomb as well as certain geometric designs in Australian architecture.
Federation Square As An Aesthetic
I first began to look at Federation Square as an aesthetic inspiration a few years ago. This led me to read essays on the design philosophy behind buildings.
She was inspired to do this by Donald Bates’s work on the Federation Square redesign. He has written the following about the underlying philosophy behind his LAB Architecture Studio practice:
As architects, we believe that space’s social dimension lies in its ability for materialization and conceptualization through new and more speculative spatial arrangements.
Jessamy’s jewellery practice has profoundly influence by the architectural philosophy of Bates et al. She explains the principles that underpin her practice in her own words. The first is this:
Everything must serve two purposes. In a wider sense, this could mean that the building serves two purposes. It must wearable, but it also needs to an object that is not attach to the body.
Pollock’s wearable sculptures are also a testimony to Australian urbanity and suburbanity, as well as to the interconnected world in our present lives.
Traditional Jewellers Images
Traditional jewellery images conjure up powerful and well-bejewelled people. This is in stark contrast to the Australian egalitarianism self-image.
Although the notion that Australians are averse to power, prestige, or status is ludicrous, we have overcome our collective cultural fear to see the value of the vernacular both in life and art. This is reflect in our growing tastes in visual arts, as well as bodily adornment.
Many of Pollock’s clever and captivating brooches, as well as other wearable art, are miniature models of Melbourne’s Federation Square’s unique, eccentric, and crazy-shaped architecture. Each brooch takes it own shape depending on the angle from which it view.
This requires conceptual prowess, but Pollock’s entire body of work demonstrates a high degree of technical mastery. The design elements that underpin these wearable sculptures tap into a unique Australian social and architectural zeitgeist.