Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Today I went to the second annual Practice as a Site for Enquiry seminar held by RMIT's Gold and Silversmithing and Ceramics departments, which will merge next year. 

This year's topic was Hybridity. A thought-provoking talk by visiting French contemporary jeweller and artist Benjamin Lignel posed questions about the importance of authorship and the outsourcing of production, and original works as opposed to repetition: does uniqueness equate with authenticity? 

Dutch ceramicist Anton Reijnders spoke lyrically about knowing and not knowing, creating a dialogue with works in progress, and the "logic of wonderment," while contemporary Dutch jeweller Manon van Kouswijk presented her jewellery, ceramic and object-based work dealing with the souvenir, tableware, maps and the beaded necklace. Manifesting in diverse ways as a collection of plastic butterflies hand cut from tableware or the intersection of a teacup and a pearl necklace in "Pearl Grey", Manon's disciplined approach is clear throughout her work.

New Zealand Art Historian Damien Skinner stirred the pot presenting some contentious questions about the direction of craft practices. Is there a "third wave" of hybrid popular and community (DIY) craft focusing on the creation of social relations that is replacing traditional skills-based craft created by artist-craftspeople? How do we define ourselves as craftspeople, within our field and the broader fields of art and design? Lively group discussions and a panel session addressed the positions and directions of contemporary craft and notions of hybrid practice.

The seminar was held as part of Craft Victoria's Craft Cubed events throughout August. Benjamin Lignel will be holding a workshop at RMIT next week.

There were two exhibitions opening after the seminar, but those posts will have to wait until tomorrow!

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