PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Like The Justified Sinner's A Forest, I too have responded to a couple of songs in metal this year. Back at the start of the year I began working on my entries for this year's Buda Contemporary Australian Silver and Metalwork Exhibition, which has recently closed in Castlemaine, but from which a small selection of works will travel to The Arts Centre in Melbourne in August. The exhibition features prizes in a bunch of different categories, including the big prize, $8000 from the Melbourne Arts Centre, for a work that exhibits excellence in silver design, craftsmanship and originality by an artist inspired by, or interpreting, any branch of Australian performing arts.
Right, performing arts, eh?
Well, first up, the Arts Centre is known for being a performing arts hub in Melbourne. It has many theatres and hosts performances from the likes of Opera Australia right through to comedy (I saw Dylan Moran there a few years back, and recently Daniel Kitson), music (ahh, the PJ Harvey gig...) and of course plenty of more 'regular' theatre. Geoffrey Rush is frequently seen to be acting up around about the place. They also have a small area for exhibitions, so I've seen one on band posters from the 70's, and of course there's been one on Kylie. Lately it's been devoted to Rock Chicks, and a few years back there was a bit of a Nick Cave retrospective. Of his notebooks, album art, posters, books and the like. As a bit of a Nick Cave fan I went to see that one with a group of like-minded friends.
So when it came to working on a silver piece "inspired by, or interpreting, any branch of Australian performing arts" I figured that I would have to have to start at the works of Mr Cave. After listening to an interview on local radio (lucky he happened to be touring in January and was interviewed by Dave Graney) I settled into listening to his back catalogue. To put it simply, in the world of Cave's lyrics/poetry (and arguably also in his other writings), there is good, and there is evil. I eventually decided that I would need to represent both sides separately for them to have full effect, and so I whittled down my song choices to Breathless and O’Malleys Bar in order to show the good and bad of his world. The imagery in these songs is rich, and so armed with two lists of motifs - one from each song - I began to plan my pieces.
As my statement for the competition reads:
"The motifs within these pieces conflict with one another in an attempt to together represent the sacred/profane syzygy that is ever-present in Cave’s writings. Within these works the “Cavian world” (a quote from the January interview) is given sculptural form, and the interplay of his metaphors are explored. The darker of the two is based on the song O’Malleys Bar; a murderous tale that comes with a sliver of mercy in the redeeming motif of “Saint Francis and his swallows”, while its counterpoint is drawn from another, Breathless; a sweet and richly metaphoric love song that includes its requisite point of darkness; a reminder of the authors mortality in his “juddering bones”.
The works are both executed in 800 silver, in the form of antique plates, sourced from a local dealer (to whom I promised I would not be melting them down...) The Raven is in two parts, the altered plate and the pendant taken from this plate and hung on 925 silver chain. The Fishes is a single plate (this is part based on Breathless, with its 'leaping fishes' reference) that has been sandblasted with glass beads to give it a softer finish than the sharper The Raven. The works were both hand-sawn to plans drawn in AutoCad. They were pieced back together and joined using fine 0.32mm stainless steel cable, which was fixed at the ends by granules of solder.
bullets and arrows ... Oh my!
The complete work The Raven and The Fishes took out the Arts Centre prize, a little over a month ago now, at the opening of the Buda show. Many of my friends were on hand to congratulate me (owing to the fact that we had scheduled a Part B meet to coincide with the opening, some months before), and several also won awards. The prize is acquisitive, so now it will go into the Art Centre collection of silverware. I'm pretty pleased to have managed to wangle a piece of jewellery into their collection too ;)
Later this month another of my works, also completed before I went on a study tour to the UK and Europe in February this year, goes on display in the Powerhouse Love Lace exhibition in Sydney. The work, entitled Blue Tin Set, is part of the International Lace Award which will show 130 works from 134 artists from the 29th of July to April of next year.