Of all the places to be if you are a contemporary jeweller, Melbourne is in the top three cities you wish you lived in. So I count myself lucky, as I constantly see exhibitions featuring art jewellers I respect and admire. The work of artist Carlier Makigawa is no exception. Her exhibition Nature and Structure at Funaki (one of the world's top jewellery galleries) is a must see for jewellery enthusiasts.
Having known of Gallery Funaki not long after it opened, I first became aware of Makigawa's work as an undergraduate student at RMIT in 2001. I had just completed one of my first jewellery series Ostentatious (below) for a student exhibition at the Sofitel Hotel, in Melbourne. After proudly exhibiting my work and being particularly pleased with my technical achievement, I started planning the next series using combinations of these 'frame' structures. That was until a fellow student commented that "[I] must have seen the work of Carlier Makigawa to be inspired to make the work in the exhibition", to which I naively asked myself 'am I supposed to know who Carlier is?'.
For those unfamiliar with contemporary jewellery, not only is Carlier Makigawa one of Australia's best known and leading contemporary jewellers, she was the head of the RMIT Gold & Silversmithing department for a time in the 90's. So as quickly as my 'brilliant' idea had manifested it abruptly stopped. I couldn't knowingly develop work that would be similar to the signature style of a prominent artist. The fact that I had in the first place was pure happenstance, however to continue along that path would be something else altogether.
From that point on, the more I saw of her work the more I knew I had made the right decision. Carlier Makigawa is the master of creating fragile, linear jewellery forms. Each piece defines a small area of space it simultaneously tries to contain. Her objects are beautifully considered and are made with great aesthetic and technical precision.
Years later, and following a similar discovery after creating a different series of work, the former JamFactory Creative Director of the Metals Studio Sue Lorraine had this to say on ideas of creative crossover, "it's ok to accidentally cross paths stylistically with another artist - this can happen...as long as you don't stay on that path - instead move on and seek another route". It was such great advice and something I remind myself of as I create new work.
That being said, I think accidental creative crossover (or whatever you want to call it) is a fascinating concept - the fact that two artists who are unknown to each other or each other's creative practice, can stylistically arrive at a similar destination. It can be interpreted perhaps as the result of a form of collective consciousness (or should that be collective un-conciousness?). I use this term here to describe the idea that our combined human experiences and thoughts can result in the creation of similar things. It is an interesting idea, even if it's arguably hard to justify as simply 'happenstance only', especially given how easy it is now to access artist's information and images in books and on the internet.
Besides, why would anyone want to make more art that has been created by someone else? So, my flirtation with creating fragile, linear structures (as interesting as it was) ended before it began. And it's just as well - the last thing the world needs is more of the same, especially when someone else can do it better.