“Aida”, Opera Australia at Sydney Opera House until August 31. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA
THERE is a hint of romance about this exhibition. The artist, Bin Dixon-Ward, is the daughter of a seafaring captain and she is reliving her memories through her craft. She spent a lot of her early life at sea and remembers the constant movement of the ship and the vibrations of the ships engines and generators.
When the family was at sea, the ships stopped at ports all over the world, and she became familiar with the building blocks and grids that are constant in large cities. While some see cities as alienating, Dixon-Ward sees the connections between humans and their occupations.
Two small bodies of work make up the exhibition: “Connections” and “The Captain’s Daughter”, both of which reflect her transient life.
Using 3D printed nylon, this artist has created a full range of jewellery – neckpieces, rings, earrings, collars, brooches, and pendants. Small squares and cubes in bright pinks, reds, greys, salmon, oranges and blues are linked together resulting in light weight, articulated jewellery, which moves as the body does. Dixon-Ward dyes the nylon to achieve graduated colours.
“Enframing neckpiece” is a large work, which sits out from the neck, almost like a collar. A single dark stripe punctuates the bright red of necklace and draws the eye.
Small squares are linked together, tumbling over each other to form earrings and necklaces. They are sometimes used sparingly, so the necklaces are finer and at other times, more generously joined so that they are a statement on the body.
Tiny cubes are also joined together, some in square, enframing neckpieces and others in large brooches. “Tower Brooch #1” and “Tower Brooch #2” can be worn in many ways, across the body, over the shoulder or pinned across the chest. These are kinetic works, moving with every twist and turn of the wearer’s body. The tiny cubes are also combined in a stunning rounded square collar in bright pink.
Another brooch titled “Russell’s Grid”, named for the first surveyor of Melbourne has a slightly undulating surface, with a grid pattern overlaid on the surface. It is a one-off in this exhibition, the black absorbs all light, and I would have liked to see it in different colours.
In “The Captain’s Daughter” group, we see several brightly coloured Buoy pendants in striped coloured nylon on fine silver chains. These are fun, and hang beautifully.
Containers, on the ships on which Dixon-Ward travelled and on the wharves, would have been a familiar sight and this artist has made tiny containers in red, blue and orange join, which also hang on fine silver chains. Again reflecting her experience, “Longitude earrings” are curved and open. They hug the neck and are light.
Two “container” rings sit tightly on the finger and when not being worn are held in a stack of containers. Very fitting for the stacking and containing of these objects.
Bin Dixon-Ward teaches digital technologies at RMIT Melbourne and is an experienced jeweller. The jewellery works well on the wearer – it is light, colourful and comfortable to wear.