The Badges Buttons Waistcoats + Vests exhibition opens next week at Velvet da Vinci jewellery gallery in San Francisco. If you go to that first link, you can see some images of the pieces I have made that will be in the show.

The exhibition is curated by Elizabeth Turrell and Robert Ebendorf, and includes jewellers and artists from the US and the UK:

Dail Behennah, Michael Brennand-Wood, Stephen Bottomley, Ken Bova, Melissa Cameron, Jim Cotter, Susan Cross, Robert Ebendorf, Beate Gegenwart, Caroline Gore, Jane Harrison, Gretchen Goss, Arthur Hash, Thomas Hill, Timothy Information Limited, Basil Kardasis, Felix Lindner, Megan McGaffigan, Trish O'Hara , Matthew Partington, Maria Phillips, Marissa Saneholtz, Marlene True, Elizabeth Turrell, Jessica Turrell.

What am I doing in that list? Well, I've just managed to sneak into this one as a US artist, though I was invited into the show by the UK based Elizabeth, on behalf of the US curator, Mr Ebendorf.

The long-winded name alludes to both the genesis and the topic of the exhibition. Elizabeth and Robert both are interested in, and frequently make, badges/buttons as a part of their separate practices. Following on from the exhibition The Enamel Experience: International Badge Exhibition that Elizabeth curated, and which toured the US  in 2007,  they decided to have a combined US + UK artist show.

The subtle differences between US and UK terms for the same objects are the reason for the double naming of the show, as in the United States a button adorns a vest, while in the United Kingdom a badge adorns a waistcoat.  (I think I have that right?!) The concept is that each artist adorns their chosen waistcoat with one or several buttons/badges brooches (!) and the whole ensemble is displayed

As for my work, the waistcoat was sourced from a second hand store in Fremont, about  a 10 min walk from our house in Seattle. The pieces were hand-sawn in some slightly beaten up recycled mild steel that has scratches through the paintwork, that I'm reasonably sure came from some old cable-concealing skirting boards at Monash university in Melbourne. The lettering is Century Gothic font (that one's for you Rameen :)) which I worked to get the joins so that the lettering itself would be sufficient to keep the piece together. But why lettering and what's with the message?

My artist statement:

The lexicon of the badge is specific and short. Short also describes the length of words used, sculpted to convey maximum meaning in mimimum space. The work BanStopSaveFightSolve interrogates the didactic language at play in badges, using terms that have had broad cultural significance (take Ban the Bomb and Save the Whale as two prime examples), as a way of investigating how meaning is conveyed through this format. Plesanteries are dispensed with, as is nuance or subtlety, when a sensitive issue is boiled down to an abrupt word-symbol. The meaning is thus re-sized, not for the benefit of the message, but to be appropriate for wear.

I am exhibiting six pieces, a single large magnetic brooch affixed to a waistcoat making up the piece BanStopSaveFightSolve, as well as 5 separate smaller works, Ban, Stop, Save, Fight, Solve, each of which is also in mild steel and magnets. The five smaller pieces will be for sale for immediate take-away during the exhibition.

I will be traveling to Velvet da Vinci gallery in San Francisco (2015 Polk Street  San Francisco CA 94109) to the opening of the show, so if you're in the area on Friday the 13th between 6 and 8pm, please come down and say hi! (As a hint, I'm likely to be the only female Australian in the room.)

The exhibition runs from July 11th until August 26th, and will tour to the Society of Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh later on in the year.

Melissa Cameron. Ban 2012. Recycled painted mild steel, plastic-covered magnet.

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Comment by Rameen Ahmed on July 3, 2012 at 9:58am

Thanks, Melissa!! Lovely, lovely, lovely - not only the font but your description, aesthetics and concept at work! Wish I could join you at the reception... I'll be there in spirit.  Congratulations again!

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Photo Credit: Philip Cohen


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