My lastest wearable artwork, Welcome / Un-welcome lei, is a reflection on the uninviting Australian border experience. Unlike other traditional handmade island garlands that are colourful and kind spirited—including the widely recognised Hawaiian lei where a wreath of flowers is presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of affection—this lei responds to the unwelcome reception visitors encounter as they enter our country. The word ‘welcome’ is engraved in different languages on the surface of the handmade blackened gum leaves threaded together, so the greeting is hidden. In this way, Welcome / Un-welcome garland is ominous rather than welcoming, devoid of celebratory ritual, emulating the current reality experienced by arrivals to our shores.
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.
Since starting at RMIT in 1999, art jewellers Linda, Sim and Katrina have worked hard and carved their own path, developing distinctive styles that are as individual as they are rich in creative ingenuity. To date, the collections by each maker have evolved year-to-year and are unique, refined, and–most importantly–recognisably their own. Each artist has built a national and international reputation and, while their work is diverse, the women are united in creating intimate objects that are abundant in creative integrity and dynamism.
THE 2019/20 AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES HAVE BEEN DEVASTATING.
Looking through the fire and ash for some hope for the future, I've decided that, for me, 2020 is about looking to nature yet again to inspire me and connect me to this earth: to this place and point in time.
Like previous collections, I can visualise fragments transformed into miniature objects: keepsakes that can be worn on the body serving as signifiers of the land and of moments past. While my 2019 focus was on thoughts of industrialisation, urbanisation, alienation, materiality, and masculinity... the push and pull of progress and manufacturing Vs beauty found in ubiquitous everyday objects, and whether these concepts are mutually exclusive, I was also reflecting 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, and in 2020 I need to find a way to reconnect with my environment-my natural environment. Through the craft of making intimate miniature objects, I can create unique and highly personal pieces that sensitively reflect my response to the natural and burnt landscape.