Some unnatural talking... at craft, naturally.

During our exhibition at craft in Melbourne, Lauren and I were filmed giving this talk about the exhibition. It shows some great footage of both the unnatural Acts and unnatural tendencies exhibitions and gives a bit of background into our collaborative endeavours.



A gallery visitor blending right in with the installation...

We always enjoy adding to the space. At craft this is particularly lovely as our foliage is able to have a conversation with the ferns sprouting from the walls of the adjacent building. 

We love that Anna Davern and Lucy James inserted their work throughout the building as well!

Unnatural Activities at Craft

Here are some snaps of our latest jewelling adventures on now (until December 1) at Craft (formerly Craft Victoria) in Melbourne. We have installed two exhibitions in Gallery One. 

The first, Unnatural Acts, is a group exhibition which we originally curated for Velvet da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco last year. We are so delighted to bring the show to Australia too - it features the work of an amazing line up of makers: Anna Davern, Caz Guiney, Bridget Kennedy, Peta Kruger, Natalia Milosz-Piekarska, Sim Luttin, Kath Inglis and Mark Vaarwerk. All were sent the same bag of strange fake foliage and fruits/veg and asked to respond to or make something with the contents. The results blew us away, some inspiring, beautiful, thought-provoking and funny work. You can read more about it in earlier posts on this blog. 

The second exhibition Unnatural tendencies features our new work. Continuing our unnatural adventures together, the brief we set ourselves for this incarnation of the exhibition, aside from shared materials and making some collaborative pieces, was to respond to the wonders of Adelaide and Sydney's inner suburbs and the joys of spring! We worked out that this is the seventh unnatural exhibition we have held and this marks the third anniversary of our unnatural exhibitions. It has been a beautiful journey! 

You can read more about both exhibitions and also the stunning exhibitions in Gallery Two by Phoebe Porter and in Gallery Three by Anna Davern and Lucy James here.
Grateful thanks to our opening speakers Zoe Brand and Kevin Murray; Debbie Pryor and all at Craft for their support and these super images taken by Lily Feng


A taste of unnatural tendencies

A taste of some of Lauren and Melinda's new work for the unnatural Tendencies exhibition opening this week at craft in Melbourne. Can you guess whose is whose?


Collaborative work - sneak peek...

Some quick shots at the bench of Simeoni/Young collab earrings and neckpiece for unnatural tendencies.

The collaborative pieces are so fun and energising. We send each other half made neckpieces to complete and, most challenging of all, 'blanks' in our individual 'signature' material and style - which is very different. There is only one chance to get the piece right so lots and lots of thinking, planning, sketching and a few sleepless nights go into these works!

Unnatural Tendencies- Opening Thursday 18 October at Craft 31 Flinders Lane Melbourne.
More sneak peeks to come...


Unnatural update

It's been a while between posts... we have been busy, busy, busy making for our next unnatural adventure and Lauren, being the amazing superwoman that she is, has also been busy studying for a teaching degree.

So, let's get up to date on our unnatural activities!

Our next exhibition opens on 18 October at craft (formerly Craft Victoria) in Melbourne. We are delighted to be showing with this iconic organisation and super excited to be presenting not one but TWO unnatural exhibitions in gallery one under the banner unnatural Activities.

unnatural Acts the exhibition that we originally curated for Velvet da Vinci in San Francisco featuring the wonderful work of Anna Davern, Caz Guiney, Kath Inglis, Bridget Kennedy, Peta Kruger, Sim Luttin, Natalia Milosz-Piekarska and Mark Vaarwerk will have its Australian debut alongside a new, spring-fresh incarnation of unnatural Tendencies by Lauren and myself.

While we are in Melbourne we will be presenting two public programs. An afternoon conversation and show and tell about the nature of making at craft (with presenters including many of our fabulous unnatural collaborators) on Saturday 20 October and an unnatural jewellery workshop hosted by our friends at the wonderful Northcity4 on Sunday 21 October.


A Sneak Peek...

We still have a few more images from the Velvet da Vinci show to share, but in the meantime, hot off the press here's a sneak peek of some pieces from our next unnatural adventure.
Unnatural Tendencies opens at Fingers in Auckland on October 3 and we have both made new work inspired in part by our visit to Auckland last year and the physical space of Fingers.
We will post some images that have inspired us over the next little while along with some more of the work we have been making.


Hunting and Gathering

We are always on the lookout for materials and find the very best ones in the strangest places... Like outside this corner store in Dulwich Hill. The studio assistant and I couldn't quite believe our eyes when we saw the gems nestled in these buckets outside and were beside ourselves when we saw the treasure trove INSIDE!!! We have been patiently saving these materials for our next unnatural adventure - Unnatural Tendencies which  opens on October 3 at the amazing Fingers in Auckland.

A foliage laden pram is a familiar sight around these parts...


Unnatural Acts Catalogue

We have published a very fancy 20 page full colour catalogue to accompany the Unnatural Acts exhibition... It would not have been possible to do this without the extraordinary assistance of Team Brand. Zoe Brand and her Mum, Jeanette Brand who designed and created it for us. It is a beautiful book and we are so very, very grateful to them both.

If you would like to get your hands on a copy of the catalogue, please contact Velvet da Vinci gallery or drop us a line.

Meanwhile, please enjoy reading the fabulous catalogue essay that Zoe has crafted for us interspersed with a few more images of works from the exhibition...

452 to Paradise
A few years ago, on a trip to Adelaide, I chanced upon a road sign, that in big reflective letters simply read O-bahn to Paradise. My mind drifted to a dreamlike world. As I stepped down from my chariot dressed in a cherry red toga with a golden grape wreath upon my head, I would be presented with a ceremonial reception. Beer would flow freely and trumpets would sound. This was my grandiose, and perhaps a little kitsch, idea of Paradise. Only, I had a feeling this suburb in Australia’s fifth largest city might not live up to my expectations. This humorous idea of paying a few dollars to catch a bus to Paradise, has stuck with me ever since.

Not long after this unexpected discovery, I was introduced to another delight, a project that jewellers Melinda Young and Lauren Simeoni were beginning to germinate and would grow to become unnatural, Naturally and now unnatural Acts.

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Mark Vaarwerk, Brooch

My initiation went something like this: Young handed me an A4-sized padded envelope addressed to Young from Simeoni and invited me to inspect its contents. It contained just one single item: a huge plastic lettuce leaf. There was no note, no explanation, just the TO and FROM address written on the outside. From my facial expression, it was clear that I did not understand. Young, however, offered no explanation, just a cheeky grin. Further inquiry uncovered that this was just the veiled way that Young and Simeoni like to communicate.

 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Caz Guiney, Neckpiece

Over the past three years Young and Simeoni have posted a communal notebook and found objects, usually plastic fakery, like the gifted lettuce leaf, back and forth between their respective studios in Sydney and Adelaide. Through this process they have each developed a series of work in response to these shared communications and objects. Like neighbours exchanging recipes and garden clippings over the back fence, it seems appropriate then, that the fruits of their labor have been exhibited on stylized wooden hedges, with their neckpieces and brooches, hung in colour coordinated vignettes. It is as if Young and Simeoni are perhaps thinking about their own jewellery paradise and in unnatural, Naturally creating their version of a Garden of Eden. Drawn together by their similar aesthetic and appreciation of a good pun, it is clear that both Simeoni and Young take much joy in their creations. The humour of the work is deeply seeded not only in the use of their found objects, but also in the quiet nod of appreciation passed in the titles of the pieces. I however, have a sneaky suspicion, that under all the flourish, things might not always be what they appear. Spend some time with these works and you start to notice that all the plastic fakery might actually be teasing you; the works may look a little different after you glance at a few titles: Half Lung, Puce, Pollinator, Leak and Probe. Perhaps you might also like to consider where some of these works sit when placed on the body.

 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Bridget Kennedy, Brooch

This project seems unrivalled not only in the unconventional approach to collaboration, but also in scope (creating new work for each of the five previous exhibitions) and in its longevity (beginning in 2008 and with no immediate indication of slowing down). Like a plastic bunch of grapes, the work still seems fresh, however kitsch and unnatural their inspiration and materials, the resulting work is relevant and reflects how each jeweller views the world around them.

 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Kath Inglis, Brooch

In 2011, Young and Simeoni have opened their garden gates and invited eight Australian jewellers, Anna Davern, Caz Guiney, Kath Inglis, Bridget Kennedy, Peta Kruger, Sim Luttin, Natalia Milosz-Piekarska, and Mark Vaarwerk, to share in their world of plastic fakery, sending them each an oddment of vines, lemons, grapes, cherries and onions. The result is unnatural Acts, an exhibition where these everyday objects are grafted together, given new life and transformed into something else entirely.

 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Natalia Milosz-Piekarska, Neckpiece

These new realities, full of possibilities show how unexpected and funny life can be, like the discovery that Paradise exists and is just a short bus ride away.
Zoe Brand

Unnatural Acts... a taster of the work in the exhibition!

Here are some images showing examples of how everyone responded to the Unnatural Acts brief along with their artist statements... quite a few of the artists have also written additional things about their work and the process of making the pieces - click on the links to access this extra information! We are so excited by each person's response and the work that they have made is awesome!

Here are the materials again to remind you of what everyone was given to work with... All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,

My immediate response to my bag of materials was to want to cut it all up (my piercing saw is my favourite tool!). I was particularly drawn to the onion as I wanted to play with slicing it and trying to represent the layers found in a “natural” onion.

My first experiments were fun but I kept thinking that they looked like someone else had made them. My natural inclination when working is to build a narrative and I have been working with the imagery from old biscuit tins and tin trays for a few years now. I cut, rearrange and construct the layers of images to create hybrid creatures and strange altered landscapes.

The onion makes a conspicuous reappearance in the David brooches, but it is also present in the layers and layering of the construction of the brooches.
Anna Davern

 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Anna has blogged about her work here


Difficulty with prescribed physical starting point – no conceptual framework, no relation to my location, not my stuff, disconnected
Plastic smells like it has been in a smoker’s house YUCK!
Attempt purely aesthetic compositions -- nice but not me
Completely disassemble, completely destroy and rebuild – run over the whole lot with the car to create an element of chance… mmm might be a bit risky
Manipulate rather than destroy… punch holes… yes I will punch holes
Challenge myself to use all of the material supplied… yes this is important
Upcycle – product cycle – lifecycle
Holes, lots of holes, punch, punch, punch this plastic food stuff… lifecycle… AH! Got it… The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Caz Guiney
 All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,
Caz blogged extensively about the process behind her work. Check it out here, here, here, here and here

I think of myself as a material based maker, in that significant relationships are formed between the material, my hand and the tool. For ten years my practice has centred on the manipulation and transformation of a commonplace material: Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), into the precious. The material is initially coloured then small pieces are removed from the surface through a process of hand cut incisions and carved patterns. Transformed from its prosaic ‘natural’ state, this new material glitters with a play of light and reflection.

unnatural Acts really challenged the way in which I approached my work. I am used to having an unlimited supply of one material to physically experiment with and now I was limited to one envelope of varied materials. I knew I had to change my approach or else I would exhaust my resource in a minute! If only I could have more of these materials... I considered Charles Darwin’s theory of ‘natural selection’ and played with the idea of ‘unnatural selection’. Unnatural plants would need the assistance of ‘plastic pollinators’ to reproduce.
Kath Inglis

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,

Kath has written about her work here


This work reflects an ongoing exploration into concerns of environmental and human fragility.
Miracle-gro and Crop-giant were two of the fertiliser brands heavily advertised by the side of the road that I observed while travelling in the Philippines.
Bridget Kennedy

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,

Fake plastic onions. Someone in this world is making their living from manufacturing fake plastic onions. I feel as though I stepped into this person’s life for a few days, I shared the desire to make it look real and to make it look good. I sliced an actual onion to understand the detail inside, the cells, its layers - and it made me weep.
Peta Kruger

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,  

Contrary to the ordinary course of nature, the series Somewhere There Exists… does. Exist I mean.
Where once there was merely a collection of artificial bits-and-bobs (having received them in the mail), there now exists a collection of jewellery pieces that would never otherwise have existed. If it weren’t for the project Unnatural Acts, I would not have been led down a garden path of imagination and promise: to create a new, small collection of work in response to a bag of colourful unnatural plant-like forms. Somewhere There Exists… is a visual bite of a bigger idea that is slowly evolving (and not dissimilar to some of my earlier work).
While continuing to inform the overarching theme of my current exploration Melancholy Series, this collection is much more playful. Melancholy Series has a darker tone: it poetically explores notions of beauty, nostalgia and passing time, questioning how the creation of objects can guide or replace memory. While Melancholy Series alludes to forms found in nature, deliberately abstracting them to de-familiarise the familiar, this series explores the imaginary by creating new, unnatural jewellery from silver, wood and plastic. Essentially these are objects of frippery and decoration, born in response to thinking “somewhere there exists...”.
Sim Luttin

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,


I found the materials I was sent for unnatural Acts, to be a somewhat telling and disconcerting harvest for what has become native to my western contemporary urban culture. However, in response, I pruned and diced my way through the fake fruit and foliage to create two neckpieces that celebrate the lurid colours and embrace the playful qualities of the materials. I drew inspiration from the traditional Lei, a predominantly Polynesian and Hawaiian ceremonial and celebratory garland composed from materials native to, or at hand for the maker, such as flowers, seeds, teeth, shells and in more recent times, man made elements such as plastic, candy and coins. A symbol of welcome, friendship and good intent, these garlands are material gestures composed from elements specific to geographical and cultural significance. Taking on the role of bricoleur and alchemist, it was not my intention to discriminate against the materials in front of me, to devalue them or judge them. They are a raw material to be explored, manipulated, celebrated and treasured. By honoring these materials, I feel I am giving them a new context that elevates them above the disposable commodity they were intended to be.
Natalia Milosz-Piekarska

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,


My favourite piece of jewellery is a necklace made of plastic twigs. Never before have I appreciated the delicate form of a synthetic stick from a plastic floral arrangement, complete with a browny-green patina and potential new life budding from its gnarled joints. –Kirrily Hammond (artist & curator)

When I found these humorous salvaged pieces, I saw them as a reminder of how consistently strangely our culture views the natural. I am fascinated, weirdly excited and disgusted.
I insist on giving these oddities a new life.
The rich colours and textures of these found objects are important triggers of inspiration, and a limited palette provides more possibilities. A homage, a wearable passport to a whimsical ‘other’ reality, finding the beautiful and seductive in what is otherwise thought of as mundane. The onion will be a fabulous brooch.
Lauren Simeoni

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,


Accustomed to working with unconventional plasticky substances, when making jewellery for unnatural Acts my focus was simply to welcome the donor materials into my usual collection of Useful Things. Initiated by means of tortures and experiments already common to my practice - shredding, cutting, mixing, spinning, amongst others - these new materials quickly found a way to fit in with my current obsession with transforming expanded polystyrene into colourful jewellery using simple experimental and crafts-based techniques.
Mark Vaarwerk

All images from unnatural Acts at Velvet da Vinci Gallery,

I played and I played and I played.
I sliced, stitched and sawed.
I had grand plans.
Made sweeping gestures.
Colours exploded across my bench (and some paint spilled). 
Several enormous, lemony brooches announced their ghastly presence.
I made an onion chandelier.
Big green leaves became cheeky, swingers’ merkin pendants.
Small, weird, blue leaves tossed and tumbled like waves around a neck.
All composted.

And then, suddenly, all that was left were the stalks… Buds of a new idea grew: Ikebana stark.
Shadow play. Hidden secrets.
Melinda Young