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Art jewellery by Sim Luttin

Moment(o)s of Disquiet and Beauty

Materiality. Memory. Time.

"Sim's practice plots a course through time: examining notions of ritual, personal authenticity and materiality."


Moment(o)s of Disquiet and Beauty

Looking for inspiration to nourish me, I walked through the streets of New York City and slowly noticed details underfoot. I was particularly drawn to the metalwork embedded in the pavement and bitumen: steel and iron grates, utility hole covers, cast metal steps and urban metalwork garden edging. I encountered many circular and geometric solid and open grid constructions and began to see the beauty in the formal elements and repetition. I could visualise fragments transformed into miniature objects: keepsakes that could be worn on the body serving as urban signifiers and reminders of moments past.


I travel to New York City as often as I can. Each time I visit, I think about how heavy and 'grounded' the city feels: the repetitive forms, the ubiquitous concrete, metal and human-made structures. While travelling through the streets in New York City in early 2019, I found my mind drifting once thoughts of industrialisation, urbanisation, alienation, materiality, and masculinity. I thought about the push and pull of progress and manufacturing Vs beauty found in ubiquitous everyday objects, and whether these concepts are mutually exclusive. I also reflected on the role of the artist, the craftsperson and the humbling process of making. My role as a maker felt so far removed from what I was seeing and experiencing in one of the busiest cities in the world.


Then I was reminded of an Indiana University Professor that I know from my time spent studying in the US, Tim Mather, who said, "What we hold in common gives meaning to our uniqueness, as well as a platform from which to compare and understand that unique vision of what it means to be human." Sometimes, as makers, we need a nudge to move forward, and these words gave me the confidence to respond to this iconic urbanscape the best way I know how: through the craft of making intimate miniature objects that relate to the body and my personal experience.


When I returned to Melbourne, I looked through the photographs I'd taken and decided to focus on the formal qualities of the metalwork I'd documented on my iPhone. Sometime later, I was urged to research the origins of the metalwork I'd seen in the streets, to understand the history and origin of the grates.


My research led me to US filmmaker Natasha Rahejathe's short documentary 'Cast in India'. It was illuminating while also incredibly confronting. Rahejathe's film revealed the disquieting context in which New York City manhole covers are made. Yet, despite this, I loved discovering that the grates are handmade. I loved watching the process of creating: of building the ingot moulds, melting the metal, pouring red hot molten metal into moulds, and stamping down the iron-saturated earth. This is all done with minimal clothing and bare feet--it boggles the mind. And despite the abominable conditions that are a far cry from what's allowed in Australia and other Western countries, I am enamoured and in awe of the makers and their skills. I'm unsure how to reconcile these mixed feelings, and I hope to make some sense of these New York City objects through my conceptual reflections, process and craftsmanship.


"...the extensive labour infrastructure and social life behind the everyday objects that we encounter in the built environment of the city {highlights] our alienation in modern life [exposing] the hazardous working conditions that are masked by the shiny surfaces of our great metropolises."
- Natasha Rahejathe -

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Cast in India

A documentary film by Natasha Raheja

Iconic and ubiquitous, thousands of manhole covers dot the streets of New York City. Enlivening the everyday objects around us, this short documentary is a glimpse of the working lives of the men behind the manhole covers in New York City. (26 min)


Manhattan’s Manhole Covers, Made in India

Jeffrey Bonior asked of Natasha Raheja: Some people may view the factory as unsafe, unhealthy manufacturing, while others might consider the work an art form. What are your conclusions?

"The two responses aren't mutually exclusive. The film showcases how the foundry work is simultaneously artisanal and industrial. It's surprising to learn that each manhole cover is “handmade.” Of course, what gets to be considered art depends not only on the technical process but on who is making a given product and for whom. The foundry workers have an acute awareness of the everyday dangers of their jobs and don’t have the luxury of thinking of themselves as artists."  - Natasha Raheja, by Jeffrey Bonior, 18 August 2015 -


New York Steam Company

Con Edison’s Steam Operations is a district heating system that takes steam produced by the steam generating stations and carries it under the streets of Manhattan to heat and cool high-rise buildings and businesses. Some New York businesses and facilities also use steam for cleaning and disinfection.


The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan on March 3, 1882. Today, Consolidated Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the world (bigger than the next nine combined). The organization within Con Edison responsible for the system's operation, known as Steam Operations, provides steam service to over 1,700 commercial and residential customers in Manhattan from Battery Park to 96th Street uptown on the Westside, and 89th Street on the East side of Manhattan.[4] Roughly 24 billion pounds (11,000,000 t) of steam flow through the system every year. (Wikipedia, New York City steam system)



Manhole Cover Markings of NYC

Bell System

BECo = Brooklyn Edison Company

BHRR = Brooklyn Heights Railroad

BMT = Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation

BPB = Borough President Brooklyn

BPM = Borough President Manhattan

BQT = Brooklyn and Queens Transit Corporation

BRT = Brooklyn Rapid Transit

BS = Bureau of Sewers

BSBQ = Bureau of Sewers, Borough of Queens

BSBQ = Borough Superintendent of the Borough of Queens

CIBRR = Coney Island and Brooklyn Railroad

Citizens Water Supply Co. of Newtown

ConEdison = Consolidated Edison

Con Edison Co. = Consolidated Edison

Conrail = Consolidated Rail Corporation

CT&ES Co. = Consolidated Telegraph & Electrical Subway Company

CWSCo. = Citizens Water Supply Company of Newtown

DCW = Brooklyn Department of City Works

DEP = Department of Environmental Protection

DPW = Department of Public Works

DWS = Department of Water Supply

ECS Co. LIM = Empire City Subway Company Limited (also abbreviated as ECS Co LTD)

EDISON = Edison

EEICo. = Edison Electric Illuminating Company


GAS = Brooklyn Union Gas

HPFS = High-Pressure Fire Service

IRT = Interborough Rapid Transit

JWS = Jamaica Water Supply Company of New York

KCEL&PC = Kings County Electric Light and Power Company

LIC = Long Island City

LIRR = Long Island Rail Road

LIWSCo. = Long Island Water Supply Company

NY&NJTCo. = New York & New Jersey Telephone Company

NY&QEL&PCo = New York & Queens Electric Light & Power Company

NYCTA = New York City Transit Authority

NYCTS = New York City Transit System

NYC & HRRR = New York Central & Hudson River Railroad

NYM = New York Municipal Railway Corporation

NYRT = New York Rapid Transit Corporation

NYTCo. = New York Telephone Company

PSC MRC = Public Service Commission-Metropolitan Railway Company

QMT = Queens Midtown Tunnel

RT NYC = Rapid Transit New York City

RT NYRT = New York Rapid Transit Corporation

RTS = Rapid Transit System

RTS NYC = Rapid Transit System New York City

STEALTH COMM = Stealth Communications

WSNY = Water Supply of New York

Water Supply


Full Circle
a collaborative exhibition
Linda Hughes  |  Sim Luttin  |  Katrina Tyler

at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins
Opening Friday 13 September, 6-8 pm







There are milestones in life worth celebrating, and 2019 marks twenty years since Melbourne-based jewellery artists

Linda Hughes, Sim Luttin and Katrina Tyler met, underground, in the RMIT University Gold and Silversmithing studio in Melbourne. Two decades on, their studio practices are thriving, and they remain close friends and metalsmithing confidants.

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