INTERVIEWS WITH ARTISTS FROM 14 BENCHES

14 Benches, curated by Anna Gray, showcases the work of 14 contemporary jewellers from the highly regarded warehouse studio Northcity4. Founded in 2011, this sustainability focused, Artist led studio space supports independent jewellery businesses through permanent and short term tenancies.

  Run LMC Double Necklace ( detail), 2018, Laila Marie Costa. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

Run LMC Double Necklace (detail), 2018, Laila Marie Costa. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

LAILA MARIE COSTA

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

The audiocassette tape inspired the RUN LMC earrings and necklaces and the pressure pads that are a component of the tape inform their design. As an analogue child of the 70s and 80s, I spent many quality hours with tapes (the cassette deck featured in the display is the original), recording radio programs and carefully composing mixed tapes. There was a load of rewinding and fast forwarding involved.

I harvest certain components from inside the tapes of which I source and open hundreds. These collected components are the basis of all my RUN LMC jewellery pieces and visual art. They are linked with my obsession with using waste materials, most of which are plastic, and embody memory from last century.

The earring design that I refer to as Blingers, were sourced in Argentina when I was there on an artists’ residency years ago.

I am attracted to the large scale of the circles and have a distinct Latino flavour. The locals knew how to rock them. I have used these shapes several times with various materials hanging from them. The pressure pads are quite fragile, despite their metallic look, and these have been designed to ‘wear and tear’ when worn. This leaves a physical mark of the wearer’s movements so that they become a work in progress.

 

What does the word craft mean to you?

Craft means tradition, artisanal skills, a vocation, history, materiality, knowledge, lineage, privilege, authority, and domesticity.
It means my mum’s ladies craft group, community craft groups, hipster hen’s night ceramic classes, men’s shed business and, sometimes, crimes against craft.
It means craftivism, creating agency, providing a voice and social change.
It means hours and hours of focus, concentration, attention to detail, repetition, and repetitive stress injuries.
Most importantly craft is butted up against art and design and it is these intersections that interest me and provide a point of departure.

 

Dream collaboration?

Too many to even list but I’m giving it a go. In fact I actually do have a list in waiting of some of my favs.

Locally: Alasdair McLuckie, David Herbert, Mikala Dwyer, Manon van Kouswijk, one of the AFLW teams, Elizabeth Gower, Lauren Simeoni, the Indigenous Jewellery Project, Jon Campbell, Trophy Wife Barbie, Sarah CrowEst, Robert Baines, Clementine Edwards, Deanne Butterworth, Kirsten Perry.

Internationally: Joanna Vasconcelos, El Anatsui, Marcello Pombo, Sarah Sze, Lucy Sarneel, Tony Cragg, Jessica Stockholder, Nora Iniesta, The Guerilla Girls, Lisa Walker, Alex Murray-Leslie, a gondola maker, Kim Gordon.

Those who now live in a parallel universe: Paul Klee, Anni Albers, Enrico Baj, Emmeline Pankhurst, Peter Tully, Virginia Woolf, Judith Scott, Inge King, Sally Gabori, Elvis, Ettore Sotsass, Rosalie Gascoigne.

Dream collaborations would involve some large scale public art and small scale wear-ables.


  Miss-Utility  (detail), Anna Gray. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

Miss-Utility (detail), Anna Gray. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

ANNA GRAY

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

This is a collection of projects that I’ve worked on over a few years. My work is often figurative and narrative, and jewellery is a great platform for this combination. I love the idea of distaste, and that something can be beautiful but also cause a gut reaction of revulsion: Like a silver silverfish. The octopus is another example of a beautiful form - but with a visceral, off-putting sliminess! 'Miss Utility' is a combination of cheap and useless pocket knife ‘tools’, with fingernails decorated with chipped, goldleaf nail polish and saw-pierced scribbles. It’s the epitome of my distaste for useless things, combined with my bitterness at being unable to maintain a manicure! The hand 'Miss Utility' is presented on is everything: creepy, beautiful and slightly horror-inducing!

What does the word craft mean to you?

The inclination to make something.

Dream collaboration?

I already got to collaborate with a whole group of excellent and talented artists at Northcity4 to put up this show. I find so much energy and drive available when working with others, I’d happily collaborate with most people! 


 Santa Sofia, 2018, Juan Castro, image courtesy the artist

Santa Sofia, 2018, Juan Castro, image courtesy the artist

JUAN CASTRO

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

All the pieces are inspired in objects and adornments that I feel attracted to since I was a kid. The juxtaposition of the arabic culture and religion with the art and the occidental religion, that happened in Spain around the XII century, churches,treasures from mediterranean cultures.

What does the word craft mean to you?

The word Craft means to me tradition. After my trip to morocco, I'm more aware about how tradition and craft depend on one another. From my view as an Anthropologist Craft it is the core and the root of pretty much every type of art.

Dream collaboration?

A dream collaboration would be with a light or an object designer. I would love to use my concept of jewellery and apply it to functional objects, to create functional art that got a practical use behind the aesthetics.


  Neptune's Dish  (detail), 2015, Pam Camille. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

Neptune's Dish (detail), 2015, Pam Camille. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

PAM CAMILLE

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

My work is influenced by my English heritage and also inspired by my home surroundings on Phillip Island, in southern Victoria. I create patterns, shapes and textures in my pieces using traditional and contemporary decorative techniques and patinas. Enamel, coloured silver alloys, bleached silver and fine tourmaline beads increase the colour range.

I love lace and my oceanic designs become delicate lace-like structures. The sections of seaweed, shells and the rock pools I find on the beach near my house are reflected in my work.

The “Alice in Wonderland” teapot echoes my English heritage and love of teapots.

What does craft mean to you?

Using special skills to create an art form.

Dream collaboration?

My dream collaboration would be to work with Italian jeweller Stephano Marchetti. I admire his technique of combining precious and semi-precious metals together to produce colourful mini mosaics that take on a fabric-like quality.  I also love and admire the work of Melbourne Jewellers, Nicky Hepburn and Anna Davern, Nicky has amazing skills and her organic aesthetic aligns with my own sense of shape, texture and decoration.  Anna’s clever, intelligent wit and dioramas often described with Elizabethan costume appeal to my enjoyment of history, stories and aesthetics.


  Percussion Neck Piece ( detail), Georgie Brooks. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

Percussion Neck Piece (detail), Georgie Brooks. Photo by Eliza Tiernan

GEORGIE BROOKS

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

My work explores ideas about texture and weathering highly manufactured surfaces so they become worn and tactile. The surfaces are hand carved and formed so that they are reinvented into something that is unrecognisable. These pieces are inspired by adornment and it’s context as an ancient form of expression, as if they are a buried hoard found hundreds of years from now. 

What does the word craft mean to you?

When I lived in London, I saw this intricate etching of a jewellery workshop that must have been at least four hundred years old. In this detailed piece, all of the tools and furniture were paralleled with workshops of today. I am fascinated by the fact that a Viking would have used similar processes to what I implement on a daily basis. For this reason I feel that the desire to make and in turn craft is timeless. The processes have been honed for millennia and now with the introduction of digital technologies, there is a fascinating merging of ancient techniques with new ideas and processes. 

Dream collaboration?

I have a few... Eduardo Chilida for his beautiful sculptural forms, Mark Dion for his story telling and celebration of cabinets of curiosity and Alan Fletcher for his incredible use of colour.


  Trophy Wife | Courtney , Annelies Hofmeyr. Image courtesy the artist

Trophy Wife | Courtney, Annelies Hofmeyr. Image courtesy the artist

ANNELIES HOFMEYR

Could you talk about the inspiration behind your work in 14 Benches?

My Trophy Wife Barbie project started as a visual pun in 2011 with an Op Shop Barbie, a piece of shield-shaped laminated wood found in a skip and some twigs for antlers. The project has taken on a few iterations, most notably the @trophywifebarbie Instagram account where I provide an insight into the life of one Trophy Wife. My aim with this project is to highlight the limitation of labels.

What does the word craft mean to you?

My first thought is always Witches, probably because of that movie The Craft.

Dream collaboration?

Mattel ;-)