So with a hiss and a roar the first HS4 Show has left the starting blocks. Our show LEANINGS, currently on show at Pah Homestead in Auckland was truly a curate’s egg of an experience. The good parts were many; the company and camaraderie of my fellow Handshakers and the beautiful location of Pah Homestead to name but two, and the less good parts were also apparent [the limitations of the exhibition space and several tiny breakdowns in communication for example] but they were never so onerous as to be destructive. Overall, the complete experience was extremely positive and I think that as a group we are all buoyed up for our next exhibition at Toi Poneke in Wellington at the beginning of next year, having learnt a huge amount about the cat-herding experience that is putting on a group show.
With this post, I want to detail the chain of thought and experimentation that led me to the pieces that I put on display at Pah. I spoke with Nicolas in September and made the following notes in my visual diary:
I was beginning to think about the very beginnings of making an object rather than the object itself. I wanted to go to the source rather than skip to the end and began to view the exhibition at Pah as an opportunity to exhibit more experimental work that attempted to investigate the process of making rather than placing the emphasis on a finished object. I had been making pewter plugs by pouring molten metal through holes in wood and had also been fiddling with lengths of metric-equivalent No. 8 wire in an attempt to describe volume and shape with 3-D line ‘drawings’. By a process of thinking with my hands as well as my head, some forms began to come together:
I identified my head and my hands as the two basic ‘tools’ essential to my making. Nicolas and I have had a couple of conversations about tools, after I inherited a whole lot of tools from my late father [see my first blog post] and I have been skirting around the theme for a while now. I have also been fascinated by the idea of drawing with metal and I decided to try and draw the inside of my head [the mischevous side of me was tempted to fill the head with scraps of rubbishy paper and tumbleweed but I resisted the temptation]. I wrapped pieces of wire around my head and suspended pewter plugs inside the resulting framework, hoping to allude to germs of ideas and sparkings of synapses, in the moments before the hands begin to make:
I enclosed my brass wire mouse in a cage to complement ‘Headful’ and pierced a sterling silver mouse mat out of a dish I inherited from my late father-in-law. ‘Handful’ refers to the research process behind every piece made, whether it’s from information found on the internet or from material investigation made in the studio. The confusion of intersecting and tangled wires in ‘Handful’ references the enormous amount of information we have to read, filter, edit and process before we are able to isolate those components that are crucial for the formation of an individual object or item of jewellery:
Even though these pieces are not wearable pieces of jewellery, I wanted to infuse them with ‘jewelleryness’ because I do after all make jewellery and a piece of jewellery is more often than not the end product of the ideas, investigations and process that I allude to in ‘Headful’ and ‘Handful’.
When installing these pieces, it was crucial to me that the height of the planks they were placed in relation to made reference to the proportions of the human body:
Photos of the final installation:
With a side reference to the fabrication of the piece, I hung ‘Headful’ from a plug of pewter pushed through a hole in the upper shelf:
My page from the exhibition catalogue:
Putting together this exhibition was a rich and varied experience resulting in a rich and varied collection of work. It was really energising to come together as a group and review our work and compare our experiences so far. Collaborating with other artists is always a tricky beast but I think we got off to a good start.