My Significant Thing – Metrosideros excelsa

Taking thDorothy de Lautour,   Dominion Rd Herbaria: Metrosideros excelsa, Pohutukawa, 2010e role of a 19th Century botanist, I have collected and catalogued the artificial plants found along Dominion Rd.  Using a variety of findings to create each brooch, this series, Metrosideros excelsa, Pohutukawa, New Zealand Christmas Tree , is displayed in an herbarium style but are meant as a parody of these expeditions to create a commentary on the influences of post-colonialism, consumerism, economic and cultural global exchange, specifically here in Auckland.  Herbaria collections were often displayed in drawers and cabinets, so I have chosen to display the specimens in a jewellery cabinet as a reference to these ‘specimen’ now being wearable items.

From as early as the 16th Century, the practice and production of science depended largely on observational evidence.  Firstly tied in with medicine the study of the plant world began to branch out into its own scientific area which we now refer to as Botany.  A huge emphasis was placed on meticulous rendering of plants, not only the entire form but also complete with details of the roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits.

It was also around this time that Herbaria, which are the collections of preserved plants, became increasingly popular.  After 1700, compiling herbaria was considered to be a useful and educational past time where one went out to “Botanise”, exploring and recording one’s natural surroundings.   Toward the end of the 17th Century naturalists wanted to travel abroad to collect and document more exotic flora and fauna, one of the most notable being Sir Joseph Banks, (1743 – 1820).  Banks was a pioneer of modern plant hunting paying his own way onto the Endeavour on its voyage 1768 – 1771.   These early botanical explorers made many discoveries which they painstakingly preserved and catalogued.  Banks is credited with introducing over 7,000 new species into Britain, his herbarium attained national importance and is held at the British Museum of Natural History.  Large collections of plants were taken and introduced to England, observatories an almost obligatory feature of the larger Victorian garden.

It was in this context that I began ‘collecting’ along Dominion Rd, examining the influences that have affected the popularity and abundance of these cheap, often brightly coloured artificial flowers.  Globalisation has given us, the consumer, a far greater choice of cheap goods (particularly from around the Asia-Pacific Region) and here on Dominion Rd the ‘$2, $3 and more’ Shop illustrated this consumerism well.  Chinese lanterns, fake flowers and pacific lei, adorning the shop frontages, all made from cheap massed produced items, the majority of which coming from China.  Other cultural influences come from our closer Pacific neighbours, where the wearing of flowers as head decorations are a part of everyday clothing and a quintessential decorative accessory.

These brooches have been created from cheap mass produced items that are readily available, they have been deconstructed and made into something uniquely handmade, while at the same time giving me an opportunity to experiment with a number of joining techniques useful to my jewellery practice.  The influences of post-modernist contemporary artists Alberto Baraya, Areta Wilkinson, Lisa Walker and Judy Darragh, as well as my own interest in Botanical drawing, have all contributed to the personal relevance of my ‘Significant thing’.

Alessandro Mendini

This striking chair is one of Mendini’s best known work’s.  La Poltrona di Proust is one of his re-interpreted “classics”, modified by the addition of structural or decorative elements that change the dynamics of the original.

In an allusion to the description of time and space in Marcel Proust’s writings “In Search of Lost Time”, the old-styled armchair is painted in the pointillist style of Paul Signac.

In Proust’s novel, the narrator states…  “memory – not about the place where I am right now, but about a couple of places I had lived before and have been before – descends upon me like a saviour from above and rescues me from the emptiness which I cannot escape by myself”. 

In other words he is suggesting that from our memories we can rediscover ourselves and help lead us to remember our identities and revive the significance of our lives.

The “points” of colour in the chair then are not only intended for visual delight  but they also represent little fragments of memory which together form a uniform identity.

Proust also states “a travel that truly lets us discover something new is not to see a new scene, but to have new eyes to see the scene”.  Similarly,  Mendini does not want to create something new, instead he redesigns from an existing form and successfully transforms the inherent essence of the object to give it a new significance.

The Everyday Collective laboratory

How can the practice of painting and drawing contribute to site analysis in Landscape Architecture?

This was the research question posed by Paul Woodruff, currently a lecturer in the Design and Visual Arts department at Unitec Institue of Technology in Auckland as he undertook his Masters Thesis – Master of Landscape Architecture.

The project investigates possible uses and applications of fine art to Landscape Architectural site analysis practice. It does this by actively promoting an inter-disciplinary apporoach when advocating for sites that are neglected or have forgotten narratives. Painted and drawn and crafted representations are employed to draw out these narratives from a site which further encourages community participation.

Woodruffe proposes that through colloaboration instead of specialization artists and artworks can connect history with the present day in an interesting and  thought provoking way which enriches our experience of landscape statesing “A shared experience usually carries more potential than a solitary one, and this is especially so when the experience is to be translated into planning or design. To illustrate this point two projects were undertaken on the North Shore of Auckland City, the first is Centennial Park in Campbell‟s Bay and deals with local history, the second at Kennedy Park also on the North Shore, explores boundary. In both cases it was move away from specialization as artist, historian, cartographer, photographer or landscape architect, it was the result of shared experience, collaboration, and as Gibson observes; “Information about the self accompanies information about the environment, and the two are inseparable.” (Gibson, 1979, p126).”

As an outcome of this collaboration there is now a Memorial Walkway that links these special previously uncelebrated places,  the everyday collective laboratory is continuing in its aims to use art as a way to document and celebrate lesser known parts of Auckland and is currently involved in investigating the Rosebank Road Peninsula.

JEMposium issue of Overview – another great read

The latest issue of Overview is jam packed with reflections of the highly successful JEMposium held in Wellington in February  (select the link on my Home page to connect to their facebook group).  It certainly was a who’s who gathering of Contemporary Jewellers from New Zealand and overseas, the highlight for me being the pin swap where we got to mix and mingle.  Having been caught up in the Ted Noten Ring Swap bedlam, Sharon Fitness’s monologue of the Miss Piggy frenzy that ensued is spot on.  Thank you Jewellers of Greater Sandringham.

Finding the Narrative

Dorothy is a third year student at Unitec in Auckland, she enjoys finding a shared narrative or personal connection within the work she is making,  She is predominately working with metal techniques such as enamelling, casting and etching and this year hope to continue her exploration with experimenting with raising, chasing and repousse. She is currently involved in developing ideas and responses to the Rosebank Road collaborative project.

Rosebank Road Project (Heart of the Whau)

This project is a collaborative between artists, residents, business association, historical society and others.  My intent is to create a contemporary series of jewellery pieces as part of this collaboration  that will enrich understanding of a chosen site,  in this instance Rosebank Road,  and the importance of preserving its historical and cultral values.

Amongst my aims is to research the historical and cultural values held regarding Rosebank Road and in what ways can they be reinterpreted. Central to my research are two on publications the first,  Heart of the Whau: The story of the Center of Avondale is written and compiled by Lisa J Truttman and is a central resource to my projec t and secondly Rosebank Peninsula Thematic Landscape Study 2008-2010. By Endangered Gardens have both provided me with a huge amount of invaluable factual and ancetodal information.  It is also important to mention the Timespanner blog, another wonderful online resource.

Dawson Road Mural Project

I wanted to share with everyone this fantastic mural project , so great to see such a community project like this, overseen by Ema Tavola and the Otara Fresh Gallery. Well done Ema and all those involved….

This from Ema  “Kia ora friends of Fresh!

 I’m proud to share with you an exciting project I oversaw on the weekend, the Dawson Road Mural Project – a partnership between Manukau Arts, Parks, Libraries and Manukau Beautification Trust.

 With the help of 11 excellent volunteers (from Tangaroa College, Ferguson Intermediate, Macleans College and Sancta Maria) and 3 local artists, this impressive mural was painted over 2 days and one night with paints supplied by Manukau Beautification Trust.

And the Dawson Road Mural Project blog will be updated with ongoing documentation: http://DawsonRoadMuralProject.wordpress.com

 Over the next week or so, Richard Misilei from Tupu Library and I will distribute certificates to the volunteers at their respective schools, to be acknowledged in front of their peers and the Macleans College student will also be awarded the school’s service to the community award.

 The mural is pretty gorgeous, so next time you’re in the Dawson area, I encourage you to stop the car and have a look! The design was developed in house by Nicole Lim and I, informed by a video project Manukau Arts commissioned in August, asking 50+ park and library users what they wanted the mural to look like.”

I have already mentioned this project while looking at Janet Lilo’s work (under Globalisation category),  where she has interviewed local kids about what they would like to see in a mural,  here’s the You tube once again.