Julie Blyfield is a renowned Australian silversmith, who creates meticulously detailed contemporary jewellery and embellished metal objects from her Adelaide home studio. Kirsten Coelho is a celebrated contemporary ceramicist who has exhibited extensively both in Australia and abroad.
This month in Melbourne, Julie and Kirsten join forces on ‘Ormolu’, a stunning exhibition that brings together handcrafted porcelain containers and an accompanying jewellery collection.
The exhibition has been produced painstakingly over the past nine months, and consists of handcrafted canisters, embellished metal containers and jewellery items, grouped in small families or ‘suites’ of around six to seven pieces. Each suite is named after a historic town in South Australia – such as Yelta, Moonta and Weetulta! ‘Many of the forms of the ceramics are derived from historical, domestic objects found in museum collections,’ explains Kirsten.
Julie and Kirsten are old friends who have been talking for many years about collaborating on a special body of work. The pair share a passion for visiting historic townships and museums, and their respective practices are often inspired by researching domestic objects of centuries past, such as kitchen utensils, tins and containers. ‘The beauty of these everyday items, often made from inexpensive materials, are records of past lives and times,’ Julie explains. ‘We are interested in the translation of utilitarian objects into something precious and valued.’
For this project, the pair researched the historic connections between pottery and metalware in the Moonta Mines Museum and the South Australian Museum, as well as looking at the findings of a major archaeological dig on the site of the Royal Adelaide Hospital. ‘Dr Keryn Walshe (previous South Australian Museum Archaeologist) was very generous in sharing her knowledge and displaying the vast array of items including bottles, ceramic shards and personal items collected from the old dump site of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,’ Julie explains. Both makers photographed this collection, with Julie reinterpreting the motifs found on a small shard of ceramic which was uncovered here!
Accustomed to long hours working solo in their respective studios, Julie and Kirsten have relished the opportunity to join forces on this project, and to develop a thoughtful, cohesive body of work with a deep sense of respect for each another’s practice. The result is a meticulously crafted collection, far greater than the sum of its parts.
Julie Blyfield’s pieces are stocked at Gallery Funaki. Kirsten Coelho is represented by Philip Bacon Galleries Brisbane, This Is No Fantasy and Dianne Tanzer Gallery Melbourne, and BMG Art Adelaide, you can see more of her work on her website, here.