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Canberra Today 12°/16° | Saturday, September 25, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Brooches show whimsy, grief and joy

Johannes Kuhnen, black diamond brooch, 2021, Titanium, anodised titanium, black diamond, 0.5 ct.

Art / “The Perfect Brooch”, Bilk Gallery. Viewings by appointment on weekends (call 6232 9411 or 0433 694 669), 11am-5pm, until Saturday, August 7. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

THE title of this exhibition is tantalising and is the catalyst for pondering. From whose perspective – the maker, the wearer, the giver? Your perfect brooch may not be the same as mine.

Many of the artists who regularly exhibit at Bilk are exhibiting their perfect brooch.

Cinnamon Lee, Protection Brooch 202, Titanium, 925 silver, 0.13ct heart-shaped diamond.

Cinnamon Lee’s “Protection Brooch” continues her exploration of covert romance. Her artist’s statement reveals the reasoning behind her brooch, which features a heart, a diamond, a cross and a secret. A perfect disc, it evokes a shield which safeguards the wearer.

Six principles – perhaps oppositional – have guided Carlier Makigawa in the making of two brooches in sterling silver and titanium. Slinky titanium links are suspended on a sterling silver grid, evoking her very early works of open frames containing a single object.

Eugenie Keefer Bell Japanese Garden Reeds and Stream Brooch, 2012. 925 silver, 750 gold.

Several artists have drawn on nature for their work. Eugenie Keefer Bell has lived in Japan and has memories of the beautiful gardens there. “Japanese Garden: Reeds and Stream”, is a peaceful work which highlights the tranquillity found in the small, perfect gardens. The surface of the brooch is crossed by elements which suggest reeds and a stream.

In Johannes Kuhnen’s design we find the thinking behind the exhibition. When he was training, Kuhnen’s professor in Germany made a “perfect brooch”; its elements reduced to the minimum. Kuhnen’s design is an homage to that brooch. Using a frame in anodised titanium with a two-point setting black diamond, it is seemingly simple.

Love, life, precious memories and death are invoked in Julie Blyfield’s “Life and Loss” brooch. Also an homage; she made it in remembrance of her partner and chose four plants or leaves to represent their shared joy in the garden.

There is an extraordinary amount of thought and care in the works in this exhibition. Many of the artists refer, either directly or not, to the current climate in which we are living, when we are not able to see family and friends and must keep social distance. Most exhibitors are senior practitioners, and it is a delight to re-engage with their skills.

The works show humour, whimsy, grief and joy.

I was stimulated and intrigued by this exhibition, and I encourage all to make an appointment to view the superb pieces being displayed.

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