So tonight is the opening of our collaborative exhibition at Objectspace. Set up at Objectspace on Monday and Tuesday of this week, so exciting to see it all coming together and really looking forward to seeing many of the Handshakers. I feel a slight sense of relief that this part of Handshake is coming to an end, and am excited for what’s to come next.
Estela and I had started discussing our collaboration earlier this year, time sped by and suddenly the exhibition was only a few months away. We had originally intended to trade a drawing and a photo, each respond to the other’s and see where that process would take us. Time again sped by. With the logistics of distance and time we reconsidered and made a new plan. We discussed how our mentee/mentor relationship has been a collaboration throughout this 2.5 year process, and we could show that journey in our exhibition.
My delight in Estela’s 2008 Good by(e) nest body of work influenced me to choose her as a mentor. This body of work is in a way the beginning of our Handshake journey, so Estela generously sent me 5 of her works from this series to show along my own work which has been developed throughout our Handshake journey. This is our statement of intent for the exhibition:
“The intention of our collaboration is to show our “Handshake journey”. We chose to display works from Estela’s series Good by(e) nest, 2008, as this series was the reason I chose her as a mentor, and therefore it signals the starting point of Handshake for us. Made throughout the project, my works are the result of collaborative discussions around making, resolution, and execution of the works. Gillian Deery”
I got to meet Estela in person in Munich! Along with a number of Handshakers I traveled to Munich in March for our exhibition. It was such an exciting and overwhelming adventure which I am still processing even after being back a few months.
Estela has been up to extremely exciting things over the last few months, she moved from Amsterdam to Cairo and is directing and the main designer at the Azza Fahmy Design Studio in Cairo, Egypt.
Been playing around in studio with some strips of silver that I have left over from weaving silver last year. I have an idea of making strips into a solid ‘sheet’ of silver by weaving and folding, no solder.
I have been discussing with Estela which works to show in Munich. It is a challenge to talk about work that Estela can only see in photographs or Skype and not in person. Skype photos below.
A trip to Christchurch! Handshake at The National – 31 August 2012
Some work this year – 28 July 2012
May 23 2012
Exhibition 4: 9 – 19 Feb 2012, Toi Poneke Gallery, Wellington
Pieces exhibited: two neckpieces
Exhibition 3: 8 – 21 December 2011, Masterworks Gallery, Auckland
Work exhibited: Documented making processes
Exhibition 2: 9 – 11 September 2011, The New Zealand Jewellery Show, Wellington
Work exhibited: an arm piece and two neckpieces
Exhibition 1: 9 – 21 August 2011, Studio 20/17,
Sydney work exibited: neckpiece and too brooches
Estela helped me choose and plan the placement of the work. Below are some lovely drawings Estela did to visulaise the placement of the objects.
July 24 2011
On reflection of our communication there has been quite a bit of conversation around what drawing and colour means in both of our practices.
The impression I have gained of Estela’s practice is that her choice of colour is pre-meditated and used to symbolize nature, eg. yellow represents the sun. An interest and one function of colour is to create synesthetic experiences.
Drawing is a mark making, image generating activity on a 2-dimensional surface and is a device Estela employs to connect the heart, mind and body.
Up until now my choice of colour has remained non-chalant when I first choose it. The only reasons I have chosen certain colours is that they are lying around my studio and/or have resonance with me on a visual level. I define my practice as a drawing practice, as articulated by Estela “drawing is the activity and metal/material is my pen.”
Estela’s questioning into my use of drawing and colour and explanations of how colour operates in her own practice will inform how I next hope to proceed in this project. As a way forward for this project I want to start researching into three strands of investigation.
1.Estela’s theories around colour selection, synesthesia and the symbolism of colour.
2. The suggestion made by Estela of how to push the idea of nonchalant selection of colour.
3. Start drawing using paper and pen, as an activity to practice mindfulness and add to my existing practice.
I want this to be the starting point for a new body of work that will open up my existing practice. I also see it as a way to fully utilize Estela as a mentor and create a research project that is specific to our mentor/apprenticeship relationship. As always in my practice I want the outcomes to be determined by the process and remain open.
Shaking hands with Estela. Reflections on Phase One.
Combining study and Handshake has been a challenge due to time and brain space. Feed back from Estela has directly fed into study and as previously mentioned helped clarify ideas. From the feed back previous work has changed in reaction to our conversations and in the last short while new work has been generated because of our conversations.
I feel now as phase one ends that the Handshake project for me is gaining momentum. Our conversations began around talking about work I had been making as part of my studies and in general studio practice. I have quite a clear framework for making and our conversations revolved around understanding and clarifying my intent, and analyzing if the work communicated this intent.
This was a helpful exercise and whilst I want to continue working within this framework, new avenues of research have now become apparent from reflecting on the similarities and differences between mine and Estela’s practices. I will begin making work that directly converses with our mentor/apprentice relationship. I am looking forward to making work specific to this project which at least at the beginning will be separate from my general studio practice.
July 12 2011
Here are some examples of work I have been making over the last couple of months. Beginning to think what will show in Sydney and Wellington. As the work develops Estela and I discuss it.
Over the last year I have been scanning and photocopying the evolution of a piece throughout the making process. This provides a visual history of the making process and allows for me to map practice.
Reflections on studio practice
The last three weeks have been a struggle. I felt I completely lost focus, was confused and had a lot of self-doubt. Throughout recent studio practice bodies of work were made that followed different methodologies. When looking at all of the work as a whole the many techniques on display was overwhelming. I had so much choice of how to go forward I couldn’t choose anything. Dipping in and out of past studio techniques in an uncommitted fashion I made stops and starts of work but was rather aimless and believing I would fail from the outset I didn’t make much.
Reflecting on this I see that I let self-doubt inhibit my making, I would overthink and second question ideas, talk myself out of even attempting them. Procrastinating would further inhibit me as the longer I procrastinated the more work I had to do closer to deadlines and the more overwhelmed I felt, in believing that I would fail from the get go I fulfilled my own prophecy and actualized failure.
Must remember feel the fear and do it anyway…
A couple of conversations ago Estela recommended watching Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten short film.
As described in Youtube: “Powers of Ten takes us on an adventure in magnitudes. Starting at a picnic by the lakeside in Chicago, this famous film transports us to the outer edges of the universe. Every ten seconds we view the starting point from ten times farther out until our own galaxy is visible only a s a speck of light among many others. Returning to Earth with breathtaking speed, we move inward- into the hand of the sleeping picnicker- with ten times more magnification every ten seconds. Our journey ends inside a proton of a carbon atom within a DNA molecule in a white blood cell.”
Having watched it quite a few times now I can see that the film’s premise of a shifting framework around a set point is a research tool that I already employ in studio. Whilst navigating studio practice and theory I look at expanded and microscopic views of previous research themes. As limits of research expand and contract new avenues of research are suggested and frameworks of investigation are amended. In doing so previous work develops further.
This is an activity that I want to do more consciously and rigorously as I think it is a way out of my feeling of aimlessness I have been experiencing in studio lately.
Whilst Estela has been busy with other jewellery related projects I have been trying to concentrate on my studies. Feeling a bit lost making wise……
Here is an excerpt of my response to some of Estela’s feedback of my work. I found responding to her feedback was a helpful exercise in seeking clarity around my research. I was responding directly to Estela’s feedback so have quoted her throughout. Our contact so far has been through email, so each of our ‘meetings’ has been back and forth email conversations.
G “I like this dialogue as a beginning
of our project.”
E “The first thing it comes to my mind is the color; why green?….what drives you to work with green and sometimes with yellow?”
G “A big part of my practice is nonchalance and casual choices
leading the way in exploration. Not caring, (or pretending I don’t
care by being nonchalant), about making choices is a way for me to
progress and keep up productivity without being inhibited. I suppose I
recognise that the fear of failure inhibits my making and makes me
scared to make choices in studio. So I pretend nothing matters and let
casual decisions be part of my making process. This was how paint
became integrated in my practice as it was in my studio and I started
using it, playing around with it whilst procrastinating from doing my
masters research, (sterling silver based investigations). At the time
my research was stuck, I couldn’t see a way forward. Then it became
apparent that the casual play could be integrated into my studio. The
green and yellow resonates with me, but other than that there is no
strong meaning behind the choice of colour. I have tried other colours
and also matt and gloss paints so casual investigation has become
premeditated now. The work in the photos uses matt paint which is
planned. I am getting bored of the colour now so think I will bring
nonchalant decision making back into the making process and play
around with other colours to then introduce into final work.“
E “Where is your inspiration coming from? has it something to do with your surrounding? perhaps a secret?”
G “A general description of my inspiration to make is as
follows:I suppose a lot of why I make is based on internal
motivations. And a lot is based on my dissatisfaction or negation of
the status quo in regards to how I was taught to make jewellery, and
the precision required to use solder and traditional jewellery
techniques. Maybe my greatest inspiration is dissatisfaction! I work
at a very fast pace, work in the moment, outside of my knowledge,
don’t plan what I will make and let the making process direct
outcomes. When studying as an undergrad I found that traditional
jewellery processes, having to plan, be precise, be considered and
have a planned outcome (either it be planning a successful cast or
solder join or have a finished piece in mind to make), was the exact
opposite of how I make. Using traditional jewellery techniques
dampened my enthusiasm for making and impeded upon my natural way of
making. I found jewellery as a context to be a good framework of
investigation, something to talk about and talk to, so by negating the
status quo I set up an investigation that both worked with and against
traditional jewellery construction. I am really interested in
utilising and strengthening my natural ways of working, so techniques
and making processes that allow me to work in the moment and have more
of an explorative practice that doesn’t always have resolved outcomes
inspires me to continue to make and keep exploring possibilities.
(For every piece there might be a more specific motivation. Like the
necklaces were to see if I could commit to making a jewellery piece.
Breaking down the making procedure of the necklaces into making
individual components and then replicate the components is evidence of
the approach that inspired making necklaces. Working procedurally, the
activity was about making multiple parts to see how to join, create
tasks for myself to make work. (This may answer your question of how
do I get over blocks and make work even when stuck. I create new
problems or tasks for myself. I find it a bit overwhelming to say I am
going to make a necklace or a brooch, so I say I am going to make some
bits, join them together to make a circle or I am going to bang some
metal or play with some paint, almost trick myself into pretending I
am not making a piece or an object when in reality that is what I am
trying to do.)”
E “I am also curious why do you use wire mostly in your necklaces, is it defined by your technical research? or something else?
I saw some other work of yours using more silver plates, matching to
each other, connected to each other, did you not longer work with it?
If felt very present to me, generates me questions as if it is an
animal skin, some metal left overs from a non developed country,
ethnical or even the inner camera of a tier.”
G “I began using wire to try and open up my practice. I agree
with you that I think the stuff using metal sheet is stronger, it has
more presence in a way. I was really confident when making stuff from
sheet. I am not so sure how I feel about the necklaces, there is not
enough tension about how they fit into jewellery or not. I like the
brooches a bit more as they are more objects. By this I mean that
because the attachment to the body is not as evident as say the
necklaces they can be seen as three dimensional objects and it is
questionable and not immediate what their relationship to the body is
if at all. I think they are a statement about how I position myself as
a jewellery, one foot in and one foot out. But the necklaces are too
literal in their investigation into jewellery or something. For me
they represent my practice questioning itself, maybe making stuff that
goes so completely into wearable jewellery to test my own limits. I am
more interested in the necklaces as components, they started as
components that individually I liked, but joined together to make
wearable I don’t like so much…I like your suggestion about leaving
the necklaces open. Throughout the making stage I enjoyed them more
before I had closed them off and might do this with them.”
E “Also i would be interested to see these necklaces open, without being closed, I can imagine then that there are no limits, more open, like drawing a line in the space, more as gestural forms as if you would be drawing. Making sketches.
I am wondering if you draw.”
G “Silver is extremely expensive and as a full time student who
only works part time I find this some what inhibits my practice. Due
to my study requiring a fast pace of making I couldn’t keep on using
silver and also such large quantities. I began using wire as a rest
from sterling silver sheet to think about line as opposed to mass, I
was interested in seeing how I could bring presence and make solid
line/wire. I think I want to next make objects out of wire instead of
necklaces or make the wire necklaces have larger components to bring
back the is it for the body or not tension back into my practice. Like
have a really small hole for the head and a large mass of material. I
don’t really draw, but I see my practice as a drawing practice, I
think quite 2-dimensionally in terms of line, space and light but make
in a 3-d format. Because I am interested in this and my practice uses
exploration, spontaneity, risk, material play and I like to work
beyond my knowledge I liken my practice to how open ended drawing
practices operate. I have been looking into Bruce Nauman, Richard
Serra as how they see their practices as an activity helps me see my
E “…do you leave room for casually? for things happening by itself? either
gravity or randomness?”
G “Yes, yes, yes. This is basically the premise of my making practice.”
E “With the brooches I feel a bit more personally attached. They appear more solid, more intriguing and they become more object orientated. There is a story, a struggle (the
ripping makes it present) it is not just the act of putting it
together. Which is the force that brings you to make this pieces? Is it just the
G “Yes, more object oriented is definitely something I strive
for in practice. I don’t feel my current work has this but I want this
back. I don’t think very technically, in some ways I try and avoid
this at all possible. The sheet work started because I was doing a lot
of traditional drawing, well using drawing materials and trying
various ways to trace patterns and decoration. I used frottage,
collage and started to hydraulic press found materials. So I was more
interested in the activity of tracing. I had been using paper and
began seeing the possibility of folding and transferring between 2-d
to 3-d explorations using paper. I didn’t like working with paper as
it wasn’t very rigid so started exploring metals and other sheet
materials. I began engraving as another way to trace found patterns
and transferred them onto metal. I began treating the sterling silver
sheet how I treated fabricating with paper, really fast. For paper I
could use glue or tape but with sterling silver using soulder didn’t
really work with how I worked as nothing was precise. I can up with
cold folding everything, this meant cutting, banging, and folding the
metal as I went and as the process dictated to try and make physical
ideas I had in my head. These ideas never went to plan and so in the
end what I worked on had a live of its own and ended up a pretty
bashed up piece. Making felt good, it was/is in the activity of making
that motivates me to make. So the pieces even though were probably
done I would bash up and change even further to prolong making, this
meant the sterling silver would at sometimes fail/rip/become brittle
and at times I would have to figure out how to save a piece from
falling apart, hence solving problems added to the over all look of a
piece. This is still how I work primarily.”
E “Furthermore, I would be interested to know (if you wish of course), the moment you feel lost within the process; where and how do you support yourself with, in order to move on? Is there in your pieces an spiritual meant to meditate; to contemplate
or just a get in get out situation?”
G “I think I may have addressed already how I get out of a
situation. Normally I only become conscious about my problem solving
on retrospect, like a new material can be brought in. The less I think
and the more I do seems to work so even if I do become stuck I have a
lot of making to refer to and maybe suggest a way out. Also in my
Masters I have felt very stuck and quite lost as a maker. This is
because there has been so much talk about my work, so many other
voices I have felt like I stopped listening to myself. Because of this
I have questioned myself a lot and found it hard to really decide how
to make. I have set a lot of rules like investigating, then picking on
of these investigations that I then have to commit to exploring
further to make resolved work. This is how the necklaces came about.
At the moment I am feeling I am wanting to just make without thinking
about rules. So my practice often goes: 1) fearlessly make, 2) get
bored/stuck/lose confidence/procrastinate, 3)Enforce discipline and
commit to making and following through on a choice 4) Become
productive 5) Start ignoring rules and make fearlessly again. 6)The
cycle repeats itself.”
Thanks for the artist references! continuing to look at them.
-Dan Flavin: investigation of the light an space. Not sure how I feel
about him. I will read more on him. I always feel quite removed from
light works as I don’t quite understand motivations to make with it.
-John Chamberlian (sculpture) immediately liked him as I wanted to
make what he had! I was trying to articulate why I like his work and
found a sentence that succinctly described my thoughts: “is expressive
of a spontaneous gesture.” Unfortunately I can’t find the reference for where I found the quote. Eeek bad researcher!
I sent an email to Estela suggesting an approach to the mentoring relationship. To begin negotiating the Handshake project I thought that the most useful strategy was to begin discussing my current research done in my Masters study, Below are the images of work created in recent Masters research that I sent to Estela to get feed back on.
G “To pick up where our conversation left off I will suggest how the
mentor/mentoree(?) relationship could work. I am currently finishing up
my Masters at Unitec so am completing work to quite a resolved form.
If I send you images of work and you could/or not comment on them. Up
to you if you want to be critical or observational. I suppose I
struggle with taking on feedback in terms of how I let it direct my
practice or not. I would like the mentoring relationship to help me
E “I understand, normally and specially during the final time giving birth to a body of work, we can feel sensitive to feedback but is always up to oneself if you want to take it or not, or if can help you to realize better what you want and what you do not want, specially, because once we finish the school and we are alone “in the world” setting our own workshop and going on with our practice it is important to take in account that the communication with our collegues (from school or not), that will be very important in order to have a dialogue upon our work and what is happening in the world, so I will comment your work and please feel free to take what you need from it.
It is very important that one stands for their believes and goes deep in their own concerns, research and wills, never forget what you want or what you do not want.”
G “My practice explores jewellery production using sterling silver and no
solder. I started to and continue to use silver as I like that there
is a tension created between my using the valuable material and
treating it in somewhat disrespectful ways. Throughout my Masters I
have investigated traditional and non-traditional ways to fabricate
and join. Techniques I have used have included folding, granulation,
engraving and paint.”
E “I find very interesting your research, it is very important to have a clear approach, and yours it is fantastic, specially because the material itself (silver), has been almost always linked to be soldered since specially metal it is difficult to be solved in other ways than that. However, stitching, gluing, casting and even forging are also other possibilities.Therefore, to start with it is really positive that you are very conscious about your goal.
Now upon your work, yes! I would like to comment over it from the photos you send me:The first thing it comes to my mind is the color; why green?what drives you to work with green and sometimes with yellow? Where is your inspiration coming from? has it something to do with your surrounding? perhaps a secret?
I am also curious why do you use wire mostly in your necklaces, is it defined by your technical research? or something else?
I saw some other work of yours using more silver plates, matching to each other, connected to each other, did you not longer work with it? why?
If felt very present to me, generates me questions as if it is an animal skin, some metal left overs from a non developed country, ethnical or even the inner camera of a tier.
The present necklaces leads me to a natural plant world however when getting a close up on them, the situation changes and if I imagine them big as I can walk around it, I see the power of a big rope holding up. Also i would be interested to see these necklaces open, without being closed, I can imagine then that there are no limits, more open, like drawing a line in the space, more as gestural forms asif you would be drawing. Making sketches.
I am wondering if you draw.
Also they remind me a DNA chain or microscopic animals or structures, and here I change my perspective and can imagine them as a micro-cosmos.
There is always an in an out. They feel chaotic at firs sight but there is a moment that if feels totally controlled; do you leave room for casually? for things happening by itself? either gravity or randomness?
With the brooches I feel a bit more personally attached. They appear more solid, more intriguing and they become more object orientated. There is a story, a struggle (the ripping makes it present) it is not just the act of putting it together.
Which is the force that brings you to make this pieces? Is it just the technical approach?!!
Furthermore, I would be interested to know (if you wish of course), the moment you feel lost within the process; where and how do you support yourself with, in order to move on?
….is there in your pieces an spiritual meant to meditate; to contemplate or just a get in get out situation?
If you have time, you might like to check this artist:
-Dan Flavin: investigation of the light an space.
-John Chamberlian (sculpture)
-Helena Lehtinen (jeweller)
-Marta Boan (jewellery)
-“The power of ten” a 10 minutes film of Charles & Ray Eames.”
I find that my way in to understanding and becoming enthusiastic about jewellery is if I can see parallels between my own making strategies and others.
Parallels I see between Estela’s and my own practice, her approach to making, combined with Estela’s involvement in other collaborative projects was why I approached her as a mentor.
I became familiar with Estela’s practice when I came across two series of her work: Good by(e) nest, 2008 and Recovered Connections, 2009. These series influenced a turning point in my practice whilst researching in my current study at Unitec within the Master of Design (by project) course.
Looking at the series re-invigorated my enthusiasm for working with silver, motivated me to expand upon construction techniques when using it, but also allowed me to permit the exploration of materials other than silver, (which I had been using exclusively since 2008), including paint.
I really enjoy these series visually and as a maker am enthusiastic about the methods of construction used. I see the construction as a combination of rawness and ‘precision’ which contributes to the form/overall aesthetic of the piece. The dual purpose of construction methods as both practical and contributing to the aesthetic look is a tension I am interested in exploring in my own work.
I want to approach Handshake in an open way where the happenings in the mentoring relationship will direct the journey and the outcome/s.
To begin with I have suggested how the project could operate and inform my current practice:
In the next few months, (as I am focused on completing my masters):
Maintain back and forth contact where I show current work/readings/exhibition and research presentation ideas for the Masters, and get feed back or not.
Glean as much from Estela as possible regarding jewellery practice.
Discussions are generated through process of feedback loop.
Revise discussions happening in the mentoring relationship to direct and lend focus to direction of the mentoring relationship.
Over the next few months after I have finished study I have a more specific idea of how the mentoring relationship could help me explore questions and problems in my practice:
I have been using sterling silver as the main material ever since graduating in 2008. Due to the expense of this I feel limiting myself to using sterling silver somewhat hinders my productivity as I can only work as fast as money allows.
I question if I rely on sterling silver to make strong work. And if using sterling silver even makes for strong work.
Is sterling silver even valid to me in the same sense anymore?
I am interested in exploring other materials to test if I can make strong work in other materials
The mentoring relationship can allow a platform to make, test and discuss a way of working outside of and that builds on my existing practice.
Handshake can be a space to test out ideas and introduce new materials and ways of working that I would possibly not have otherwise looked into. It will be left open for now if these explorations remain exclusive to this project or bleed into my existing practice.
Discuss and professional development, increase my involvement in the jewellery community.
The project could become collaborative in terms of work.