An evolving nation-wide curated project, The Indigenous Jewellery Project focuses on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander contemporary jewellery and small object making from workshops undertaken on Country at Indigenous owned art centres. Mediums include resin, silver and other metals as well as traditional natural materials.
Part art project, part social enterprise, the aim of the Indigenous Jewellery Project is to strengthen and continue existing traditions and facilitate artists to develop a career as exhibiting contemporary artist jewellers through upskilling, involving developing practice and the use of professional jewellery materials.
It is focused on developing and maintaining Aboriginal jewellery and small object tradition and practice, reinforcing the connection to traditional lands and the natural world and developing a sophisticated contemporary art craft practice, in which works are created that both sit on the body and outside it.
The Indigenous jewellery project is curated by McCulloch & McCulloch co-director Emily McCulloch Childs who is linking up with contemporary jewellery galleries and jewellers to connect them with Indigenous art centres across Australia.
The first studio workshop worked with Melbourne artist Kate Rohde (of Melbourne's Pieces of Eight Gallery), and Erub Erwer Meta Art Centre, in Erub (Darnley Island), Torres Strait Islands. Already adept at Ghostnet weaving, the artists’ Ghostnet jewellery was noted by Emily when she presented a talk with the artists at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2011. Seeing the potential for the Erub artists to develop their skills as jewellers and to combine their ghostnet weaving with resin, Emily, with Pieces of Eight Gallery director Melanie Katsalidis and Erub Erwer Meta, on successful application for an Australia Council Skills and Opportunity Grant, arranged for two workshops, held at the art centre on Darnley Island, with Melbourne artists Kate Rohde to teach new skills in resin.
Subsequent workshops have included those with Kate Rohde at Ernabella Arts in the APY Lands and at Ikuntji Artists, at Haasts Bluff, Western Desert, and contemporary jewellery workshops featuring natural materials, silver, and mixed media working with Sydney contemporary jeweller and lecturer Melinda Young with artists at Ernabella Arts.
Works made at Ikuntji and Ernabella were shown in an exhibition JEWELLERY HAS ALWAYS BEEN HERE curated by Emily McCulloch Childs at JamFactory, Adelaide, as part of the inaugural TARNANTHI Festival in October 2015. The project also includes films detailing the traditions, techniques and sources of traditional jewellery and the studio workshops.
Further exhibitions have included a launch exhibition at Whistlewood at Easter, 2016, 'Synergy' Fundraising exhibition for Elizabeth Morgan House, Xavier College, Kew, August-Sept. 2016, 'Inheritance', McCulloch & McCulloch & Salt Contemporary, Queenscliff, October 2016, 'Aboriginal Sculpture', &gallery, Melbourne, October-November 2016, 'Borne: Sculpture for the Body', curated by Margarita Sampson, Stanley Street Gallery, Sydney, October 2016.
The Indigenous Jewellery project has also helped to bring Indigenous jewellers further into the Contemporary Craft field with Ernabella artist Lynette Lewis being accepted into the National Contemporary Jewellery Award, Griffith Regional Gallery & touring Sturt Centre for Design, Sept-December 2016, with a set of necklaces made in the IJP workshop with Melinda Young, using materials made in the first workshop with Kate Rohde. This is the first time an Anangujeweller has been exhibited in this prestigious contemporary jewellery exhibition.
In July, Melinda Young and Emily ran the first contemporary jewellery workshop at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala, Arnhem Land with funding from Ministry for the Arts with aims to work towards developing an ongoing contemporary jewellery project
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