ACTU President Sharan Burrow opened Guild Unlimited with a very warm speech. She seemed interested in all the guilds represented by artists in the exhibition, but ended with a special plea for the Guild of Dreamers. A photo with Sharan and the Guild artists now features on the website.
Barbara Heath, jeweller to the Guild of Dreamers, gave an explanation for the leafy patterns on her crowns. As a Brisbane dweller, Barbara finds a special association between the fretwork in the breezeway of old Queenslanders and the meditative state of mind practiced by her guild.
Sharan's presence seemed quite timely given the call to a Federal election that had preceded the opening. The exhibition will now run the course of the Federal election, ending on the same day that Australians cast their vote for the new leader. This is especially relevant to Roseanne Bartley's work, which features evanescent badges for ghostwriters showing the first names of the last fifteen prime ministers. Laid out like a conference table, there is a conspicuous absence following the last 'John'. Whose name will follow? 'Kim', 'Peter', 'Tony'?
Three Sydney artists were able to make the opening. Fortunately, Shaelene Murray arrived early and noticed that her beautiful steel aprons were hanging high. We had been given the wrong ceiling height so her meticulous planning had gone awry. Fortunately, with the able assistance of glass artist Liz Kelly, we were able re-rig her aprons. Their shadows are quite stunning. The same occurred to a lesser degree with Tracey Clement's work, which included four brooches for leg waxers. Fortunately, a set of white gloves were available so the curator took the liberty of lifting the perspex cover during the opening and let Tracey rearrange the pieces to her satisfaction. Pierre Cavalan exuded sang froid throughout the whole proceedings, though we were horrified to see that his beautifully suspended Cadaceus had slipped a few centimetres overnight and hasty work had to be done in rearranging the pieces. We like these fussy Sydney-siders!
Our 'international' artist, Peter Deckers, worked tirelessly on
his piece right up to the opening. For a while it seemed he had transferred
his bench to Craft Victoria. His homage to the Reproduction Guild was
an intricate work where the sinkers were almost as expressive as the works
they counterbalance. The tiny faces and nipples in the moonstones for
the process reproducers are quite sublime, and the list of materials is
fascinating reading, including an extremely rare artificial diamond.
Finally, Sarah Jane Ross's discussion of her brooches for baristas revealed a potential new line for jewellers. Sarah found that the top baristas are desperate for someone to fashion the special metal implements for making those treasured patterns on tops of coffees. Her brooches for the Macchiato, Ristreto, Latte, Cappuccino, Doppio and Espresso could be the medals of honour for the coffee-pulling class that makes modern life possible.
The ten jewellers have made wonderful works for Guild Unlimited and we hope they will turn into conversation pieces around which new identities might converge.