It's been a while since we have posted any of our writing about the concept behind the exhibition and our work. The initial premise has remained the same, but the conceptual explorations for each of us have strengthened and shifted a little as with any ongoing body of work.
Here our writing to accompany the JamFactory exhibition, illustrated with some more recent work from us both:
un•nat•u•ral | Naturally
: a littering of frippery and fakery, jewellery and objects
by Lauren Simeoni & Melinda Young
Simeoni, Plumelle Neckpiece
The artists have spent three years developing this exhibition. During this time they have both been working in a shared sketchbook that has been sent back and forth between their hometowns of Sydney and Adelaide. This has allowed them to celebrate shared aesthetic ideas, collaborate on sketches and collages and in turn develop each others’ unique vision of contemporary jewellery practice. The work that each artist has developed for the exhibition takes some of the ideas and aesthetics commenced in the sketchbook as a springboard for the development of a new body of work representing a conceptual exploration of the theme unnatural, Naturally. In addition to sharing ideas in their sketchbook, the artists have also spent time in each others’ studios and are sharing some unique materials.
For both artists this exhibition marks an opportunity to not only work in a collaborative way – but also to push and extend existing ideas in their practices as a result of the collaborative dialogue. The premise of the exhibition and collaboration behind it is not often seen in contemporary jewellery practice and the opportunity to work and exhibit together is proving to be beneficial to the professional development of both artists’ practices not only in terms of conceptual and material expansion within their work, but also in the sharing and expansion of their professional networks.
The title, unnatural, Naturally, reflects the practices of both artists – they both respond to nature, but theirs is a celebration of nature gone slightly awry. Nature, specifically the Australian bush, is a frequent touchstone in contemporary craft and design practice in Australia and indeed, along with the body, could be said to be one of the main points of reference for contemporary jewellery practice in this country. Simeoni and Young take this, their culture of practice and its reference to the nature of the bush and the body, on board and subvert it slyly. The nature in their work is not that of the natural body, nor the Australian bush – rather, it is the fanciful, plastic representation of generic plant life that inhabits the dollar store that is used with glee by both as materials for their work.
Simeoni cuts and refashions this ‘plant’ matter into sometimes delicate, sometimes bold jewellery – neckpieces that garland the body and brooches that impudently perch upon it, to create a wearable passport to a whimsical ‘other’ reality. Young’s interest lies with re-presenting the natural state of the body – her works have an unsettling plasticity or tactility. She uses the language of the abject and sly humorous titles alongside colour and material to re-create the interior and exterior landscapes of the body in her jewellery. These works increasingly reflect an interest in composition and material play. For this exhibition fake, plastic flowers - cut up, reassembled and redeployed with gems and other found materials, become a metaphor for our cultural denial of the ageing body and indeed the decaying body, particularly as seen on gravesites and roadside memorials. For both Simeoni and Young the unnatural is simply as natural as can be.
Simeoni, Woodland Neckpiece
unnatural, Naturally has been touring since October 2009 and has been shown at metalab, Sydney; Pieces of Eight, Melbourne and in New Zealand at Masterworks, Auckland and Quoil, Wellington. The exhibition will be presented at The National in Christchurch and a new site specific version for Fingers Gallery in Auckland will open on 3 October 2011. Simeoni and Young are also curating a larger version of the exhibition project featuring the work of eight other Australian jewellers to be shown at Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco in August 2011. We are continuing to exchange materials, develop ideas in our sketchbook and create new work for the project.