By Example

The Museum of Arts and Crafts
13/03/2010 - 28/03/2010

By example presents a view of Australian contemporary jewellery through the lens of the processes of learning. It draws attention initially to the transference of knowledge not as a didactic method but through the relationship of the mentor to the learner. At the same time it provides a ‘cultural snapshot’ of Australian jewellery through the work of the forty-two artists presented here, a collection of more than two hundred pieces of jewellery.

This exhibition brings together fourteen leading jewellery artists, exemplars of their discipline, and places alongside each of them two artists with whom they have worked and have selected as evolving talents in their field. Interestingly, this is not an exhibition depicting the hierarchy that may be expected in such a relationship, but rather illustrates the symbiotic dynamic that develops when a creative bond is formed between two makers. In this sense examples can be set in many ways – through skill, thinking, visual expression, professionalism, to name a few.

As a collection, these works reflect the distinctive Australian context, which has evolved out of the European tradition of learning from a ‘master’ into one marked by dialogue and exchange. The selection of artists acknowledges the range of learning that one undergoes in the process of becoming an artist, recognising that this is not limited to formal education within an institution.

Looking beyond the curatorial premise of the exhibition, in selecting the established artists, we considered initially those who fulfilled the brief of working in a position of ‘influence’, that is of transferring some kind of knowledge. We recognize that there are many worthy teachers beyond our selection though we also took the presence of a sustained and acknowledged jewellery practice into consideration. In recognising that learning also occurs in less formal, less direct ways, we felt it also important to identify these as equally valuable. Consequently the professor, the tutor, the mentor, the guide, the confidante, the teacher all appear here. And it is through their eyes that you see a new generation of makers.

By example explores the diversities of these relationships – as this is what they indeed are. Each mentor is defined by their own standing and identity in the field of Australian contemporary jewellery and along with that, their ability and commitment to the nurturing of new talent. In selecting them we have thought carefully about the identity of Australian jewellery and about how to represent its diversity. In turn, these mentors have enthusiastically taken on their task, presenting an insight into the creative and spiritual partnership they share with their nominees.

We would like to thank Mr Kazuyuki Takiuchi, the director of the Museum of Arts and Crafts, Itami for inviting us, and all these artists, to present this collection of Australian contemporary jewellery to Japanese audiences. Further we would like to acknowledge the role of Ms Fumiko Tsubo, herself a mentor, and her drive and commitment in enabling the realisation of By example.

Dr Karin Findeis and Bridie Lander, Curators