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This course is also run by Dutch designer Herman Hermsen, and involves the design and execution of an exhibition of student work – small-scale series production available for sale. Part of the theory behind this exhibition is that during times of economic instability, buyers are less likely to invest in expensive, one-off artworks, while simultaneously being skeptical of mass-produced goods from large-scale manufacturers.
For the maker, this opens up a niche – handmade pieces from independent designers at a reasonable price point are now more desirable to the market.
The exhibition has 9 student participants, mostly final-year or masters students (which makes me more than amateur…) who are each developing their own marketable range of products – wearables, accessories or decor pieces.
So how can we make a coherent exhibition out of this broad range of work? It seems that the contemporary jewellery scene is the only place where it is commonplace to exhibit production pieces. Of course, the dichotomy of exhibiting jewellery is that it almost negates the function of the pieces themselves — what is a piece of jewellery if it is behind glass, without a body, a wearer, a life? It becomes and empty object, the dialogue of the piece is changed, overlooked.
To me, these pieces need to communicate something about their context. For me, there is a constant struggle to justify my making production pieces in a world that is already flooded with products. Empty objects, only given purpose by the consumer, to be returned to emptiness once the next-gen designs appear.
In order to deal with these anxieties, I find myself drawn to forgotten objects as a basis for my work. Jewellery, being a highly personal and communicative medium, seems an apt place for re-contextualising these ‘lost’ objects. At the same time as making production pieces, I want to subvert the concept of mass-production itself. But how?
For the last 3 years or so, I’ve been working on an ongoing production series of ‘Teacup rings’. These rings are constructed from the handles of second-hand melamine teacups which were in production in Australia between the 1950s-1970s. During this time, melamine was a fashionable material for kitchenalia, picnic ware and crockery. I buy the cups from op-shops, garage sales and estate sales. Each wearable piece is hand-carved and unique. The shapes in the pieces reference the original lines of the products from which they are derived, as well as the natural movements of my tools when I carve. If you are interested, the pieces are available from Workshop Bilk.
I’ve decided I will keep working along this theme, using vintage plastics from abandoned mass-produced objects. Aesthetically, I like the concept of referencing the original forms. I have begun a few experiments, but more on that soon.
I’m also in charge of the graphic design/marketing team for this exhibition, this means there’ll be logo/identity design, packaging, promotional material, website and installation work to follow, too.
I stumbled across this Dezeen article on Karen Ryan last week, and I can’t get her work out of my head.
Ryan uses ‘used’ objects to create amazing graphic-inspired objects which make a strong social comment about consumerism and the obsolescence of products.
She manages to find a place as a product designer amidst a sea of mass-over-production. Very poetic and thought-provoking, whilst being aesthetically very edgy and fresh.
Her personal website has a link to her Flickr photostream, showing objects and process from previous collections.
I ❤ you, Sarah Illenberger. You could be Michel Gondry’s younger, cooler sister.
i vote for art is an online boutique where artists and designers can sell their works interantionally. It works in a similar format to Etsy, and has a cute feature which allows the general public to vote on favourite works by the click of a button.
It’s a very sweet concept, but I kind of wish it wasn’t limited to 2D works – artists may sell original paintings, and limited or open edition prints – but I suppose drawing the line around 3D works is more complicated, and risks treading on the toes of etsy…
Nonetheless, its always wonderful to see fledgling galleries offering this kind of publicity to independent artists. 🙂