Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Happy Midsummer - bringing in the solstice with two new shows....

I have some new works in two exhibitions starting today at Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge - USA. Very aptly two pieces celebrate the midsummer solstice!

Midsommarstång & Små grodorna are both made with vintage Swedish flax yarns from the 1960, which were stored in a haberdashery stockroom for decades. They were made especially for the *Intoxicating textiles* exhibition.


"Linladan is Swedish for flax barn: the threads we have on this website is from flax grown and spun in the heart of Sweden's textile industrial area in the 1960's. As the factory closed down, the remaining yarn was hidden away in a haberdashery stockroom for decades. We're still researching the story of this yarn, hoping to write it here and on the blog as it unfolds. Although we will add threads from other parts of the world when stumble upon some, the purpose of this website is to present the Swedish yarn Linblomman (The Flax Flower)."

"An old Scandinavian proverb tells "Ull blir mull och lin blir gull", (Wool becomes dust, flax becomes gold) and we have found the latter to be true: linen stays beautiful and strong, ready for stitching now or in 50 years."

"Små grodorna", referes to a special song that is sung when dancing around the maypole at midsummer in Sweden. The translation of Små grodorna means the Swedish for "The Little Frogs" The song is to be danced to while making movements to signify different parts of the frog. It can also be sung at Christmas too, around the Christmas tree. My neckpiece is a celebratory adornment for midsummer to be worn when dancing The Little Frog dance. It can be seen as necklace of bubbling frog eggs to represent the starting of life and to celebrate the beginning of summer.

"Små grodorna"

If you fancied hearing the song and maybe joining in! You can follow the link to see You Tube Video

Små grodorna details

Midsommarstång neckpiece, is a nod to the maypole which is traditionally used at midsummer in Sweden and some parts of Finland. Again it is a piece of adornment to wear in celebration of life, which can be for special celebration days or could just be worn every day to remind us to enjoy and be happy for the good things we have. The small triangular forms represent flags or bunting used across Europe to celebrate traditional gatherings.

"Midsommarstång" details

The two Shepherdess Neckpieces were made especially for the *Black and White* exhibition, in which we were asked to make panda inspired works, either a literal panda or through the theme of black and white. I based my neckpieces on the folklore of the panda and how they came to have their black and white fur.

In Tibetan folklore there is a story about how the panda came to have it’s distinctive black and white colourings. It is said that a long time ago, all giant pandas were snowy white. One day a stalking leopard attacked a panda cub. A shepherdess came to his rescue, but in doing do she was killed by the leopard. The bears in mourning for the shepherdess wore black armbands as a sign of respect at her funeral. The pandas began to cry and as they did they began to wipe their eyes with their armbands, covered their ears to muffle the sounds of crying and hugged one another. The armbands blackened their fur and that is how the panda became black and white.

"Shepherdess Neckpiece #1"

My two neck-pieces are made in honor of the folklore surrounding the shepherdess, who bravely protected the panda cub.

"Shepherdess Neckpiece #2"

The exhibitions run from the 21st June – 15th August 2016

Promotional images from Mobilia Gallery

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Kallisti – Three Good Deeds

The three Kallisti brooches, with text stitched in English, German and Greek.

Myths 2016 - Test Drive was a Art in Public Space project curated by Loukia Richards and Christoph Ziegler, who are both visual artists based in Hamburg. The jewellery exhibition, which formed part of Munich Jewellery Week, took place inside a trailer-turned-into-a-gallery in down town Munich. The peripatetic gallery travelled to a number of locations throughout the week.

The premise of the innovative project was, “If you can check out how a car works, why not check out whether a piece of jewellery makes you look more glamorous, popular, funny, insightful, attractive etc?”

The project gave participants the option to lease the jewellery to wear for one or more days. An on-line booking system guaranteed that the items borrowed would be returned in perfect condition. The participants also had the option to buy the work.

The peripatetic gallery – open for business. Images courtesy of Loukia Richards and Christoph Ziegler

I was intrigued by this forward thinking idea and I wanted to use their unique ethos in my own pieces and really question how we interact with jewellery in galleries as viewers and customers. I decided that instead of purchasing the work with a traditional transaction of money, the currency for my works would be to do a good deed for others.

The idea behind the works is linked The Judgement of Paris. Taking the idea of "Kallisti" and what it means in a modern day setting. To be the fairest, is to be the kindest and "fairest" should really pertain to being a good person rather than just having a good appearance. The brooches are offered as medals to deserving suitors. The Medal suitors were asked to let us know what their good deed was within three months of receiving the brooch and send us a short text and images about their deed. I left it as open as possible so that each person could respond in a way that suited them and captured their good deed and personality.

Not really knowing what to expect, I was delighted to hear back from the three participants. All three had very individual approaches to the challenge. It was interesting too that each of them had already been doing many good deeds as a part of their daily lives. It seemed that the brooches themselves had found deserving owners!

A little bit about the story of the Judgement of Paris, which inspired the brooches... Having been excluded from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the offended Goddess Eris, plotted her revenge. She threw down a golden apple inscribed with the words 'to the fairest', knowing that this would cause unrest between the other goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera and Athena asked Zeus to decide to whom the apple belonged. Who was the fairest? Zeus did not want to cause any more discord. He knew that choosing one of the goddesses he would result in the other two feeling hurt and angry. Instead he decided that the mortal Paris should decide for them.

All three goddesses appeared before Paris. Each goddesses promised Paris different incentives and prizes if he chose them. Aphrodite promised him the most beautiful woman in the world. This woman was Helen, the wife of King Menelaus of Sparta. Aphrodite made Helen fall in love with Paris. The lovers ran away together. Menelaus called together his allies in Greece. They set off to recapture Helen. The resulting war lasted for ten years.

Daniel Von Weinberger’s Story

Daniel is a multimedia artist, jeweller and teacher, born and living in Antwerp. One of the Myths- Test Drive artists, Linda Savineau, had been one of Daniel’s former students. As part of his good deed he gave Linda two books about his work as a teacher which celebrated his student’s art work. The books contained some of Linda’s work.

Daniel was exhibiting work in Schmuck in the Messe, so he also gave Linda tickets to get in and see the show and she in turn gave tickets to other people so they could also see the works. He also gave some of his books to Galerie Spectrum , who then gave him a book. In turn he gave this book to someone else who was “very happy with it”.

I also found out that Daniel was allergic to apples and he had not been able to eat them for 10 years or more. So for him having a “beautiful green apple” had a very personal meaning. He intended to keep it “as a treasure in a box” rather than wearing it.

After our initial contact, Daniel and I had a correspondence back and forth about the ideas behind the project and he continued to make further good deeds such as helping someone make a decision, gifting an old type writer to a friend, talking to a friend in on the telephone who needed advice and giving away other personal possessions to benefit others.

As part of Daniel’s response to the project he sent me some wonderful illustrations about his good deeds.

I had not come across Daniel and his work before, so for me it was a really nice way of learning about a new artist. You can see more of Daniel’s work and read about his multifaceted art practice here: http://danielvonweinberger.weebly.com

Kim Tiong’s Story

Kim is a jewellery student from Glasgow who is currently studying at Dundee. She was visiting Munich Jewellery Week with her class and wanted to visit Test Drive as she knew I was exhibiting there.

Kim’s good deed was helping out every week at the Eagles wings, which is a Christian organisation who help give clothes, food and drink to people who are homeless or less fortunate than others.

Kim helped out with giving them food bags and something warm to drink. She told me about helping to mix up ingredients for a “stovie”, which she explained is a corned beef and mash potato mix. Kim said she was going to continue to do this kind of work as it was really enjoyable, being able to help others and listen to their stories, “hearing about their stories and how each of them offers to give rather than take which I thought was nice”.

Kim also told me about her studies at Dundee and the project she is currently working on, as well as sending me images of her work including one of a piece from her first collection about her home city Glasgow called "Dear green place" after the Glaswegian saying. She was inspired by how grassy the city was and the fact that she grew up near forestry areas. The collection won her the H.S Walsh award. Kim also knew my work and was really pleased to receive one of my brooches which was really lovely to hear about.

Kim is currently working on a project linked to anxiety and how the wearing of her work can alter your mood and thoughts. She has been experimenting with mark making and colour on press formed aluminium. I have been reading about the project on her blog: www.kteojewellery.wordpress.com

I am looking forward to seeing her degree show work.

Li Ching’s story

Li lives in Basel, Switzerland and is also an artist, making installations, jewellery and objects. It was interesting to hear that Li does a lot of volunteer work already in Africa and is constantly giving back to others, so it seemed very fitting that the third brooch should find her as its new owner.

For the Kallisti project Li gave her studio for free to an artist to work in while she was away in Taiwan and she also let 3 artist couples stay at her flat while she was travelling.

She explained to me that this was nothing special and she liked to help others. When I asked her what she thought about the brooch she said, “The brooch, is made with much LOVE!! and carefully!! and unique! it brought to me so much joy! it touched my soul!!”

Li sent me some images of her wearing the brooch and also some images of her work in an exhibition where she included her Kallisti brooch as part of her art work. I thought this was a really unique way of using the brooch and it was interesting to see it in such a difference context. Li explained it was a visual diary art work.

Li Ching is actually her artist name given to her while she was working in Taiwan. It means “bringing blessings and happiness to everyone”. Her birth name is kathrin Stalder.

Li has worked on many voluntary and community projects including an urban knitting project in Basel and a jewellery art project in Africa.

“Kathrin creates different works in different places while she is travelling. Wherever she goes, she starts by embracing foreign environments, and she ends by creating surprises and artworks. Kathrin, like many other artists, is gifted of rediscovering beauty in our familiar city.”

You can read and see more about Li and her work on her blog kathrinstalder.wordpress.com

Loukia Richards the Myths Test Drive organiser had the following to say about her part in the Kallisti project...

Loukia Richards, talking to a participant at Myths Test drive, Munich. Image courtesy of Loukia Richards and Christoph Ziegler.

“As a curator of Myths entrusted with the selection task I had the pleasure to talk to three extraordinary people. I value our discussions and thank you for your trust.”

“I was entrusted with the honour to evaluate whether a visitor could be the right person, investigate his/her mood and mind set, take the brooches out of the secret box I kept them ("adyton"), talk to him/her about the challenge, encourage her/him to be brave and take the initiative.

I think we build a network of good people interested in another way of looking at art and design. Believe me taking the challenge is not that easy as it sounds.

Your own consciousness will supervise you. You will also serve as an example of inspiration for higher causes to other people, you have to be perfect. Your actions must be well thought and matched. They should not look like an obligation, a duty or a pay back - they should come from the heart.

It is also very difficult to judge: What is a good deed today?”

Images courtesy of Loukia Richards, Christoph Ziegler, Daniel Von Weinberger, Kim Tiong and Li Ching.