Review / Jewellery leaves a mark on the earth

craft / “Mark Making: Bench”, Craft ACT, until August 25. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

‘Blended Modess’ by Katie Stormonth, 2018. Photo by Faun Photography

THE word “mark” is used as both a verb and a noun, and has many definitions and connotations. “Bench” artists have used it as a broad term to present forms, patterns and textures within their artwork.

Bench is an artist run studio established in 2012 in response to the need for creative spaces in Brisbane. This exhibition, at Craft ACT, presents the work of four Bench members and their interpretations of “mark making”, both individually and collaboratively.

Each approach their work differently although there are several common themes such as exploration of the connections between objects and people – especially the wearer – memories and shared experiences, and, of course, the surfaces of objects and materials and the marks on them.

‘Ghost Bloom I’ by Andy Lowrie, 2017. Photo by Faun Photography

Andy Lowrie is exhibiting large brooches and pendants which are heavy in appearance. Made from sterling silver, copper, wood, enamel and steel, he has recently included graphite or drawing on the surfaces of several of his works. The colour and character of reclaimed timber used in “Immortal Bloom I”, and Immortal Bloom II” with the dots, or marks on the surface of the enamelled steel all add interest.

‘Seed Bomb Necklace’, by Clare Poppi. Photo by 5foot Photography

Clare Poppi is interested in creating a dialogue, which shows the marks people leave on the earth. The pairs of works in the “Seed Bomb Necklaces” series enable the purchaser to create their own necklaces, giving them agency. The mould used to create a shape is threaded on recycled cotton cord, contains seeds and can be placed in a garden to grow. Purchasers can also reuse the moulds. The moulded works refer to the mould, both in name and in form. Carefully and thoughtfully, Poppi shows the audience that contemporary jewellery leaves a major mark on the earth.

Large brooches are also being exhibited by Katie Stormonth. The decorative arrangements of painted aluminium are delicate and colourful. In addition to several brooches, she is exhibiting necklaces of painted aluminium and sterling silver, and bamboo. These sit surprisingly well around the wearer’s neck. I find a similarity between the work of Stormonth and Andy Lowrie.

‘Horizon North’ by Nellie Peoples. Photo by Faun Photography

Many may be familiar with Nellie Peoples, who finished her education at the then ANU School of Art. She is showing several series of work, such as the Bifocal series, which are identified as something one might do when cataloguing objects found on an archaeological dig. The surfaces of the discs – in copper or sterling silver – are delicately marked with dots, lines, and other textural scratches. Small pieces of reclaimed timber threaded on stainless steel are formed to give the appearance of a horizon. This finish is subtle and is shows her belief that feelings for and about, a specific place, are deeply personal.

Stormonth has collaborated with both Peoples and Poppi, to create brooches and necklaces.

In my experience most artists are concerned about the environment and what is being done to it. This is one of very few exhibitions where most of the works have a component of recycled materials. These young artists are demonstrating that we can have both the beauty of jewellery and still be careful about how materials are used.

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